A Louisiana man who was serving life in prison for selling $20 worth of marijuana was released after spending 12 years behind bars

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A Louisiana man who was serving life in prison for selling $20 worth of marijuana was released after spending 12 years behind bars
An entrance gate into one of the maximum security wings at Angola Prison. An entrance gate at a maximum security wing at Angola Prison. The Louisiana State Penitentiary, also known as Angola, and nicknamed the "Alcatraz of the South" and "The Farm" is a maximum-security prison farm in Louisiana operated by the Louisiana Department of Public Safety & Corrections.Giles Clarke/Getty Images
  • A Louisiana man who was serving a life sentence for selling $20 worth of marijuana to an undercover police officer was released last week after 12 years in prison, WWL-TV reported.
  • Fate Winslow, 53, was homeless in 2008 when an officer approached him asking for weed. He sold the officer $20 worth of weed and was later arrested and given a life sentence, WWL-TV and CNN reported.
  • "I was so happy to get out," Winslow told WWL-TV. "A life sentence for two bags of weed? I never thought something like that could happen."

A Black man in Louisiana who was serving a life sentence and spent over a decade behind bars for selling $20 worth of marijuana to an undercover cop was released from prison last week.

Fate Winslow, 53, was released from the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola on Wednesday after serving 12 years for marijuana distribution, WWL-TV reported.

"I was so happy to get out," he told WWL-TV. "A life sentence for two bags of weed? I never thought something like that could happen."

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Winslow was homeless in Shreveport in 2008 when an undercover officer confronted him and asked him for weed, WWL-TV and CNN reported. He used a friend's bike to pick up two bags of weed and sold them to the officer for $20. The officer gave Winslow $5 for food. Winslow was later arrested.

Because of Winslow's past offenses - a business burglary, a car burglary, and cocaine possession, all nonviolent - he was sentenced to life in prison, WWL-TV reported.

Winslow was granted time served with the help of his attorneys from the Innocence Project New Orleans, an organization that helps and represents people serving life sentences in Louisiana and Mississippi.

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In November, five states - Mississippi, New Jersey, Arizona, Montana, and South Dakota - voted to legalize marijuana in ballot measures. This month, the House of Representatives voted to decriminalize cannabis at the federal level.

A recent report by the American Civil Liberties Union found that Black people were more likely to be arrested on marijuana-possession charges even in states where it's legal. And according to policy experts, widespread marijuana legalization may take some time.

As Business Insider's Kelly McLaughlin reported, in many states there isn't an automatic process to expunge marijuana convictions from a person's criminal record. Further, some states require inmates to file petitions for resentencings or dismissals of marijuana charges.

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"I cannot wait to have my dad back fully in my life," Winslow's daughter, Faith, said in an IPNO statement, according to WWL-TV. "Twelve years is a long time. Too long. He deserves a second chance and I am so glad he is getting one."

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