After Seven Years Behind Bars for Two Joints, Bernard Noble is Free

Noble became a national symbol of the country’s, and Louisiana’s, harsh drug laws and minimum mandatory sentencing.

Bernard Noble is Finally out of Prison

Bernard Noble, whose draconian conviction and sentencing to 13 years of hard labor over two joints worth of weed, was released from prison early Thursday morning, after serving 7 years, reported The Marshall Project.

Noble, 51, was arrested while biking in New Orleans. The cops said they found about three grams of weed on him. Because he’d been convicted of having small amounts of cocaine and weed in the past, they threw the book at him under the Louisiana “habitual offender” law.

After Noble was convicted, two separate district court judges attempted to reduce his to sentence to five years, based on the fact that he had no record of violence or drug dealing and supported seven children.

When that failed, his mother Elnora Noble, collected nearly 75,000 signatures on a Change.org petition for his clemency. Even President Obama couldn’t issue a federal pardon as Noble’s case was in state courts.

Noble became a national symbol of the country’s, and Louisiana’s, harsh drug laws and minimum mandatory sentencing.

“There is plenty of data and evidence that suggests harsh drug sentences are not effective, and we can argue those talking points until we are blue in the face, but most people need to see flesh and blood,” said Kevin Ring, president of Families Against Mandatory Minimums.

Noble’s sentence was especially unfair in that other states were starting to legalize cannabis for medical and personal use. In Louisiana, medical marijuana was approved in 2015.

Eventually Bernard Noble’s case caught the attention of Daniel and Margaret Loeb, whose foundation donates to The Marshall Project. Daniel Loeb spent years pressing courts, governors and lawmakers to reverse Noble’s long sentence.

Now after seven long years, Bernard Noble is free.

“I really felt special, seeing my family and everyone waiting for me,” Noble told The Marshall Project by phone after he was released and met by his mother, sister, and other family members.

“I cried a lot of times in prison silently because you can’t do it out loud in a treacherous place like that. But I always said, ‘one day it’s gonna get better,’ ” he said.

Welcome home, Bernard!

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