Man serving longest ever sentence for non-violent drug crime to be released

A Polk County man who was serving a life sentence for a drug-related offense will soon be a free man.

Richard DeLisi's sentence is one of the longest ever handed down for a non-violent crime involving marijuana. After 30 years behind bars and months of work by the Last Prisoner's Project, the 71-year-old will be home with his family in early December.

His brother Ted said they are more than ready to catch up on lost time.

"I can't wait. I haven't seen him in 25 or 28 years," Ted DeLisi said. "I'm so happy he's coming home. Oh my God. I can't tell you how happy I am. Just to know I'm going to be there when he walks out that door. He's going to get the biggest hug, let me tell you."

In 1989, the DeLisi brothers were sentenced to 90 years. Both were convicted of drug trafficking charges for planning to fly a plane loaded with marijuana into Polk County.

In 2013, Ted DeLisi was released but Richard remains behind bars.

Earlier this month, a day after FOX 13's story on the case aired, the Florida Department of Corrections approved Richard's request for release.

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"These are people with families. These are people, some of whom made mistakes. Some of whom were patients trying to do their best for their own health, and we need to make sure that we don't ignore victims of the war on drugs while we develop an essential industry," Richard DeLisi's lead attorney, Chiara Juster said.

Richard DeLisi is serving 90 years for a non-violent marijuana trafficking offense

DeLisi's release comes at a time when more municipalities are decriminalizing marijuana and more states, including Florida, have legalized the drug for medical and/or recreational use.

In June, the Last Prisoner's Project started working on DeLisi's case. The organization is made up of cannabis industry leaders and criminal justice advocates who are focused on freeing prisoners serving lengthy sentences for marijuana offenses.