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Non-Violent Cannabis Offender Sentenced to Life in Prison Just Contracted COVID-19

Michael Thompson’s decades-long incarceration is turning into a death sentence, and the Last Prisoner Project needs our help to save his life.

Last June, MERRY JANE reported on the case of Michael Thompson, a 69-year-old Michigan inmate busted in 1994 for selling weed to an undercover cop. Even though Michigan has since legalized cannabis, Thompson remains behind bars and is supposed to stay there for the rest of his life. But, jails are the last place anyone deserves to be — especially for a non-violent weed offense — amidst a pandemic. Unfortunately, we regret to report that Thompson was just hospitalized for COVID-19. 

Getting Thompson out of prison took on emergency status this year in light of the coronavirus, which has torn through incarcerated populations like wildfire. Thompson, who suffers from diabetes and other health issues, was especially vulnerable to infection. Not surprisingly then, he fell prey to the disease.

Thompson is currently hospitalized. If he recovers, he will be sent back to prison. If he’s not sent back to prison, it’ll be because the coronavirus took his life. That’s why he needs our help now more than ever. Here’s how you can help. Call the Michigan Parole Board (517) 373-0270 and Governor Whitmer (517) 373-3400 and tell them to grant clemency to Michael Thomspon. His MDOC number is 176309.

the last Prisoner Project (LPP) has been working relentlessly to commute the sentences of Michael Thompson and other inmates presently locked up for weed crimes in states, such as Michigan, that are no longer even crimes. And the LPP needs our help. They are asking us to take action immediately by urging the Parole Board and the governor to grant Thompson clemency.

According to Bailey, Thompson is extremely ill. “Michael is feeling incredibly weak. He is diabetic and unable to eat the food being served in the hospital. His main source of sustenance right now is milk and juice, which is not enough. He is feeling malnourished. On a phone call earlier today, his voice was barely audible and he was coughing a lot.”

Despite this, Thompson’s case remains in an extremely dangerous state of legal limbo. “Last Prisoner Project and Michael’s attorney sent in his clemency petition on January 29, 2020,” Bailey wrote. “We applied for an expedited review back in March… His case has still not been reviewed by the Michigan Parole Board. Governor Whitmer is unlikely to grant Michael clemency without a statement of support from the parole board. They have told us repeatedly that they would be reviewing his case ‘soon’— but they have not given us any further information.”

Meanwhile, Bailey expressed gratitude to Michael’s supporters. “Many celebrities have posted on Michael's behalf via social media,” she wrote, “including Snoop Dogg, Chelsea Handler, Jim Belushi, Montel Williams, Sarah Silverman, and the Michigan Attorney General, Dana Nessel.”

What's infuriating is the fact that Roger Stone was spared from going to prison after lying to Congress, while people like Tekashi 6ix 9ine, Michael Cohen, and Paul Manafort are among the prisoners released due to the coronavirus outbreak — all while Michael Thompson's case, and thousands of other non-violent drug offenders, is continuously ignored. How is this true justice?!

“Please help Michael by calling the Parole Board and Governor Whitmer to urge them not to return Michael to prison from the hospital," Bailey said. "He has already served 25 years for only three pounds of cannabis. Don’t let a nonviolent cannabis sentence become a death sentence for Michael Thompson.”

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