Justice? Louisiana Man Gets Life in Prison for Fourth Marijuana-Related Conviction

From HyperVocal.com:

Cornell Hood II had been convicted of marijuana-related charges three times, and all three times it resulted in probation.

Unfortunately for him, he was recently convicted a fourth time for one count of possession with intent to distribute marijuana — a charge that usually carries no more than 15 years in prison — and will now serve a life sentence in Louisiana prisons. Yes, a life sentence.

Under Louisiana’s habitual-offender statute, criminals in the state are “subject to life imprisonment after being convicted three or more times of a crime that carries a sentence exceeding 10 years,” reports The Times-Picayune.

When Hood switched homes [to St. Tammany Parish], he also requested a new probation officer based in St. Tammany. Authorities granted the wish, and the officer, Dustin Munlin, drove to Hood’s place for a routine visit on Sept. 27, 2010.Munlin found nearly two pounds of pot throughout the house, according to court records. He alerted Sheriff’s Office deputies. They arrested Hood, who apparently shared the King’s Point house with his mother and young son.

At Hood’s one-day trial, the evidence presented by the prosecution included a digital scale and about a dozen bags that had contained marijuana before being seized from the house, testimony showed. Deputies also found $1,600 in cash and a student-loan application with Hood’s name on it inside of a night stand.

Jurors deliberated for less than two hours and convicted Hood of a reduced charge, which usually carries no more than 15 years’ imprisonment. Assistant District Attorney Nick Noriea Jr. then used Hood’s past convictions on Thursday to argue that he was a career criminal worthy of a severe punishment.

Judge Raymond S. Childress was more than willing to use those past convictions, and he sentenced the 35-year-old to prison for the rest of his life, or at least until he is granted parole.

The strange thing here, aside from how this is yet another example of why America needs a serious overhaul to its drug laws, is that each of Hood’s previous three convictions carried a suspended five-year prison sentence, which makes it seem as if he’s being wrongly (or overly) sentenced under the repeat-offender and three-strikes laws in Louisiana.

Should Hood serve some time in prison? Absolutely, at least based upon the current drug laws of the land. Hood should have known that another arrest would result in a much more serious charge, and it’s his risk to assume.

But it’s also galactically foolish policy to send away a man to prison FOR LIFE for dealing pot just because he’s been convicted three times already.

When it comes to prison reform, America ultimately needs to ask itself what the prison system is trying to accomplish. Is it to keep the most violent and dangerous members of society off the streets? Or is it to make money by throwing anyone and everyone into lock down?

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4 thoughts on “Justice? Louisiana Man Gets Life in Prison for Fourth Marijuana-Related Conviction

  1. I understand the inclination to feel sympathy for 3 strike offenders. And you rightly point out:

    “Should Hood serve some time in prison? Absolutely, at least based upon the current drug laws of the land. Hood should have known that another arrest would result in a much more serious charge, and it’s his risk to assume.”

    But then you go on to make Hood a victim of the justice system. I don’t get this thinking. Honestly, whether drug laws seem harsh ought to be irrelevant. People should not be selling drugs. I am not worried about how harsh drug laws are, I don’t use or sell them.

    Aren’t laws supposed to be to a degree, a deterrent? If drug laws are too soft, what’s the real discouragement? As you said, he had already received 3 convictions for which he served no jail time. He obviously didn’t feel any pressure to stop breaking the law. I think the point of life sentences for repeat offenses is to remove people who obviously have no interest in following the laws of the land from the productive members of society, no?

    • The question isn’t “should he be punished” but rather “did the punishment fit the crime”? I say no. I also say that it is questionable at best if his case met the requirements for the mandatory life sentence.

      Additionally, at a time when we are cutting fuel programs for needy ppl, student loans, and a million other programs we should ask if this crime deserves a punishment that is going to put taxpayers on the hook for $50k per year for another 40 or so years.

    • It is quite the crock of shit when alcohol and tobacco, both of which have harmful side effects and either lead to crime (booze) or increased medical costs passed along to all of us (both), are legal yet this particular drug isn’t. Despite what the bible belt crowd wants you to think the vast majority of research on it shows that it is not a gateway drug…at least no more than alcohol is.

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