Cornell Hood II, a thirty-five-year old New Orleans resident, was sentenced to life in prison for possession and intent to distribute marijuana. That's right: he'll spend the next fifty or so years on the state's dime for pot. Don't you feel safer already?
Hood was arrested for his fourth pot-related charge earlier this year, and sentenced to life after less than two hours of jury deliberation. The harsh sentencing comes from a Louisiana law that gives life for more the three or more infractions that carry a ten-year sentence. Crimes like violent rape, or, you know, possession of marijuana. His previous three sentences had all involved suspended prison sentences and probation.
Now, to be fair, this guy had been warned. His fourth arrest actually happened when his parole officer was visiting his house and found more than two pounds of pot. So yes, he was kind of asking for it. And yet, the whole thing seems to underscore the bizarre and unjust drug laws in this country.
The U.S. currently has a prison population of more than two million people, or around three percent of the adult population. Of that population, almost a quarter are in prison for non-violent drug offenses. Given that it costs more than $20,000 per inmate per year, and all we can talk about is how broke we are — plus the fact that California has nearly legalized the drug, and not, as far as I can tell, sunken into debauched gangland madness — I'd say our national priorities are out of line.