Man Serving 60 Years for Marijuana Conviction Gets Meeting with Parole Board

Original Case Details

In a previous blog, we detailed the case of Michael Thompson of Flint. Thompson was sentenced to a maximum of 60 years in state prison for his convictions of delivery of marijuana, felony firearm, and being a felon in possession of a firearm, with a minimum sentence of 42 years before he is eligible for parole. He has since served nearly 25 years of that sentence and will not be eligible for parole until he is 87 years old if his current sentence stands. Thompson is currently 69 years old. Briefly, Thompson was arrested in 1994 for selling three pounds of marijuana to a confidential informant. He was charged with the additional gun charges when police searched his home and found various firearms, mostly antiques. Due to the habitual offender law at the time, it allowed the judge to sentence Thompson to any term of years up to life in prison. This 42-60-year sentence isn’t even possible in today’s time for Thompson’s crimes. This issue has resulted in strong support for Thompson from various people, including the Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel.

Support from Attorney General

In a rare move, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel voiced strong support of Thompson’s release. She wrote a letter to Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer asking Whitmer to take a look at Thompson’s case, and to consider his early release. Nessel stated in the letter, “while technically legal, the sentence imposed on Mr. Thompson is the product of a different time in Michigan legal history. And it is a time that has passed.” As you can probably guess, it is extremely rare for a sitting attorney general to so vehemently be behind a prisoner’s release. The facts in this case, however, have led Nessel to make this uncommon move. Governor Whitmer is the only person who has the authority to commute Thompson’s sentence. The Michigan Department of Corrections parole board still retains control of Thompson and has met with Thompson for a preliminary hearing. A full parole board hearing has still not been approved for Thompson.

What Happens Next?

Thompson contracted COVID-19 inside the Muskegon Correctional Facility and is currently hospitalized at Duane L. Waters Hospital, which is inside a state prison in Jackson. He is currently isolated, on oxygen, and said to be “without energy.” Due to his health condition, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has called for Thompson’s immediate release, pending approval from the parole board. Thompson and his case have had notoriety nationwide as emblematic of the overly harsh drug laws of the 1990s. From the preliminary meeting Thompson has with the parole board will set the table for what is to happen next. The parole board and the Governor both have the power to release Thompson, and it just looks like a matter of time before he is released through one of those avenues. It appears as if Governor Whitmer is allowing the parole board of the Michigan Department of Corrections to do their due diligence in meeting with Thompson to make sure they are also on board with the release of Thompson. If the parole board does not decide to release Thompson it is important to note that Governor Whitmer will retain the power to commute his sentence at any time and have Thompson released. Whether she eventually does so remains to be seen.

Any Further Questions?

If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime or are being investigated for one, then it is important to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. At Grabel & Associates, our attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience in successfully defending criminal cases all over the state of Michigan. This experience extends not only to adult cases, but also to juvenile charges. We are not a general practice firm. We are a team of criminal defense attorneys; it’s all we do. We offer a FREE consultation to anyone with questions relating to a possible or existing criminal charge against them or a loved one. Feel free to contact us on our 24/7 defense line at 1-800-342-7896. You can also contact us online or come visit us at one of our three statewide locations. We can also come to you.

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