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Our next highlight in the ILLICIT Freedoms Campaign, which aims to show the injustice in US cannabis incarceration, is Robert Franklin from Columbia, Missouri. He was sentenced 22 years without the possibility of parole for a pound of marijuana after pulling off at a “drug checkpoint” on the highway. Robert served 11 of those years, costing taxpayers $244,057. He had a 15 month old child at the time of his arrest.

Robert says, “They railroaded me. They gave me 22 years without the possibility of parole for less than a pound of marijuana because I had a record. My co defendant got papers; She didn’t have a record.” He remembers, “They were talking about giving me life without parole.”

Robert Franklin, Jr. was in Lafayette County jail in Missouri for his trial for less than a pound of marijuana.

He says, “I didn’t understand why I was sentenced so harshly. I got the book thrown at me. Well, you know, I was a black man in a small white town. Everybody that was in the courtroom was white except for me and my family: the secretary, the stenographer, the prosecutor, my lawyer, the judge, the jury.” Robert recalls the jury selection process and one moment in particular, “After they selected the jury, they asked if there were any questions from the jury pool and one lady said, ‘How long is gonna take because I’ve got a volleyball game to coach?!’”

It took them 15-20 minutes to come back with a guilty verdict. He would be sentenced to 22 years without the possibility of parole costing taxpayers $244,057.


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