Florida man Richard DeLisi, 71, who was longest-serving prison inmate for nonviolent marijuana crimes in the US is freed early after 31 years of a 90-year sentence

Florida man, 71, who was longest-serving prison inmate for non-violent marijuana crimes in the US is freed early after 31 years of a 90-year sentence - and heads straight to his favorite crab shack for lunch


Richard DeLisi, 71, was freed on Tuesday from a Palm Beach County prison 

He spent 31 years behind bars after 1989 conviction for marijuana-linked crimes 

DeLisi had been serving longest sentence for nonviolent drug offense in the US 

Judge sentenced him and his brother to three consecutive 30-year prison terms 

They were convicted of trafficking marijuana from Colombia to Florida 


In a report published by Mail news, a 71-year-old Florida man who served 31 years behind bars for marijuana-related offenses was freed from state prison on Tuesday.

Richard DeLisi had been serving the longest sentence in the country for nonviolent marijuana-related charges before he was released on Tuesday from the South Bay Correctional and Rehabilitation Facility in Palm Beach County.

‘It's really an amazing feeling but I knew it was a long time coming,’ DeLisi told WTVX-TV.

Asked what he plans to do now that he was out of prison, DeLisi said: ‘I'm going to celebrate at the Rustic Inn, eating some crabs this afternoon.’

The only Rustic Inn restaurant in Florida is in Fort Lauderdale, where DeLisi had the option of paying $52 for nearly two pounds of dungeness crab or $83 for king crab.


He had been serving a 90-year prison sentence after he was convicted for racketeering, trafficking cannabis, and conspiracy.

‘I can personally tell you, as a former prosecutor for Miami-Dade County, I never saw anything like this,’ said DeLisi’s attorney, Chiara Juster.

‘It's truly unjust.’

DeLisi's release on Tuesday comes 18 months before he was scheduled to be freed in August 2022. 

The early release was part of a joint effort from the Last Prisoner Project and pro bono attorneys Juster, Elizabeth Buchanan and Michael Minardi

The Last Prisoner Project is a nonprofit organization made up of attorneys, activists, and policy experts who are seeking to win the release of prisoners who have been incarcerated for nonviolent, marijuana-related crimes.

But the Florida Department of Corrections said the decision to release DeLisi had nothing to do with any third parties. The department said it reviewed DeLisi's record and found that he was not awarded credit for time served, causing his release date to be moved up.

In 1988, Richard DeLisi and his brother, Ted DeLisi, were caught in a reverse-sting operation for trafficking marijuana into Florida from Colombia. 


Both were charged for trafficking and sentenced to three consecutive 30-year prison sentences.

Judge Dennis Maloney, who sentenced both brothers, went well beyond the recommendations in judicial guidelines, according to The Ledger. 



Ted was released from prison in 2013 after he successfully appealed his conspiracy conviction. Richard's appeal, however, was rejected.

Richard said that now that he was out of prison he was looking forward to spending time with his two living children and five grandchildren. 

His wife, one of his children, and both of his parents are dead.

 'It feels amazingly wonderful to know that I will be home with my family and loved ones very soon,' Richard told his legal team last month after it was announced that his release date was moved up.

'I am grateful to everyone who has been there and helped me along in these long years.'

Lawyers have highlighted the COVID-19 pandemic as a huge part of the reasoning they sought DeLisi's release, citing his old age and 'several underlying chronic conditions.' 

The Last Prisoner Project shared in June release that SBCF has become a 'hotspot' for the virus, with 421 people testing positive with the virus while one inmate has already died, according to data from the Florida DOC. 

At least 85 staff members have tested positive for the virus.

Richard plans to live with his brother-in-law, Robert Burrows, in Broward County. 

In Florida, 189 inmates have died from coronavirus, according to state statistics.   


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