In 1996, Darrell Hayden was running a 75-acre marijuana grow operation on a Kentucky farm. When a complaint about a runaway horse from the farm (really) was levied, the Sanilac Country Drug Task Force paid Hayden’s farm a visit, noticed the large-scale grow operation, and subsequently arrested Hayden.
The County charged Hayden with “conspiracy to manufacture or possess with intent to distribute 18,957 marijuana plants” (that’s 4,169 pounds) along with a “second count of manufacturing the 18,957 marijuana plants.” Consequently, Hayden–a Vietnam War Veteran–has spent the last 16 years of his life behind bars because he broke federal law.
While Hayden’s sentence typically means a 15-20 year jail stint, Hayden’s two prior felony convictions meant he received a mandator life in jail punishment. For growing weed.
Yes, Hayden was breaking the law and profiting off of marijuana in a state where marijuana is very much illegal. But this man who served our country in the Vietnam War has paid a hefty price for his “crime.”
Simply put, no man deserves to spend a second in jail for growing weed. Given our country’s ever-evolving cannabis policies, Hayden’s case highlights the need to examine those individuals unjustly still in jail for growing pot (of which there are many). The need to retroactively analyze and adjust sentences like Hayden’s is a real one that should not be overlooked.
Likewise, supporters have put together a Change.org Petition that hopes to grant Hayden clemency and let him spend the remaining years of his life with family, not behind bars:
Darrell has been in prison for 16 years and has no possibility of parole for non-violent, marijuana-only offenses, my uncle has been sentenced to die in prison because of a “three strikes” mandatory sentencing policy in the state.
Darrell is a Vietnam Vet who willingly sacrificed his life to protect and honor this country. A model prisoner with zero violet histroy. While serving his time, Darrell has watched violent criminals, rapists, and murderers serve their time and be released. Meanwhile all he wants to do is be a productive member of society, work, pay taxes, and love his family.
Being away from his home has caused Darrell precious time with his children, seeing his grandchildren grow, and missing out on so many milestones.
President Obama is the only one who has the power to bring this Father, Son, Grandfather, Uncle, Nephew and brother home. Grant Darrell clemency. Please help us reach a reasonable and just end to his prison sentence by signing and sharing this petition. [Change.org]
Hayden represents a prime example of individuals spending their lives behind bars because they manufactured cannabis before America began to see the light and progress its cannabis laws. Hayden is one of many individuals spending his life in prison all because of this plant.
Moreover, in states like Kentucky and Texas, sentences like Hayden’s still remain a very real possibility for cannabis dealers. It’s hard proof that we’re still embroiled in the war that is marijuana prohibition.
You can–and should–sign the petition right here.