Michigan Attorney General Puts Support Behind Releasing Man Serving 60 Years in Prison for Marijuana Conviction

Original Case Details

Back in 1996, Michael Thompson of Flint was sentenced to a minimum of 42 years and a maximum of 60 years for convictions of delivery of marijuana, felony firearm, and being a felon in possession of a firearm. Thompson was first arrested in 1994 for this case when he sold three pounds of marijuana to an undercover informant in Genesee County. Police later searched his home and found various firearms. These were firearms that he was not legally allowed to own because of previous felony convictions in the 1980’s. It has been since noted that most of these firearms were antiques that were locked away and that Thompson was not carrying a gun when he sold the marijuana to the informant. At the time of his sentencing, Michigan sentencing guidelines did not apply to habitual offender cases. The habitual offender law at the time allowed a judge to sentence Thompson for any term of state prison up to life in prison specifically for the felon in possession of a firearm charge, even though the normal maximum sentence for this charge is five years in state prison. This sentence in today’s times seems prehistoric as marijuana is both medically and recreationally legal in the state of Michigan today.

Michigan Attorney General’s Position Regarding Early Release

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has taken a special interest in this case and has expressed strong support for Thompson’s early release because of the factors discussed above. It is also worth noting that the 69-year-old Thompson is currently being treated for COVID-19 while he is in prison. If the current sentence is to be followed, then Thompson will not be eligible for parole until he is 87 years old. Thompson has been described as a model prisoner who has expressed remorse for his past infractions and has taken steps to rehabilitate himself. Thompson is currently housed at the Muskegon Correctional Facility as operated by the Michigan Department of Corrections but has been transferred to the Duane Waters Health Center due to his illness where he is receiving treatment.

What Happens Next?

Attorney General Nessel has sent a letter to Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer regarding Thompson and her position that Thompson should receive a commutation of his sentence. A commutation is an early release that can only be granted by the executive branch of state or federal government. Nessel herself does not have the power to grant a commutation, only Governor Whitmer has that power in the state of Michigan. If Thompson was convicted of a federal crime, then the only person who could grant a commutation would be the President of the United States. Commutations in the state of Michigan were postponed for a while because of COVID-19, and the parole board further prioritized cases where prisoners were actually eligible for parole, unlike Thompson. Due to his COVID-19 issues, Thompson’s attorneys have also filed for early release from the parole board due to the high-risk nature of COVID-19 and Thompson’s age and underlying health conditions. The parole board and the Governor have yet to make a decision about what will happen with Thompson. It is likely that with the rare support of the Attorney General, along with his combined health issues that Thompson will receive a review of his case in the near future, although that is a best guess at the moment.

Any Further Questions?

If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime or 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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