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Grandfather, 53, jailed for LIFE for selling $20 of marijuana to undercover cops when he was homeless is freed after serving 12 years

 A Louisiana man who was sentenced to life for selling $20 in marijuana to undercover officers when he was homeless has been released from prison after spending 12 years behind bars.

Fate Winslow, 53, a father of four and a grandfather from Shreveport, walked out of Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola - one of the country's most notorious maximum-security prisons - a free man on Wednesday and was on his way back home.

'I was so happy to get out,' Winslow told WWL-TV after his release. 'A life sentence for two bags of weed? I never thought something like that could happen.'

Fate Winslow, a father of four, was freed from prison on Wednesday, 12 years after he was sentenced to life for selling $20 worth of marijuana

Fate Winslow, a father of four, was freed from prison on Wednesday, 12 years after he was sentenced to life for selling $20 worth of marijuana 

Winslow is pictured with Jee Park, director of the Innocence Project New Orleans, who successfully appealed his sentence and secured his release on time served

Winslow is pictured with Jee Park, director of the Innocence Project New Orleans, who successfully appealed his sentence and secured his release on time served 


Winslow said he was looking forward to getting some fried chicken from Popeye's and reuniting with his family, including his four children, three grandchildren, and his two sisters. The man's mother died while he was in prison.  

Winslow was sentenced under the state's repeat offender law. His case has garnered attention as Louisiana wrestles with criminal justice issues and over-incarceration.

According to the station, Winslow was living on the streets in Shreveport in September 2008, when he was approached by undercover officers who asked him where they could get some marijuana. 

Winslow was homeless in Shreveport in 2008 when he was approached by an undercover officer seeking to buy drugs (pictured in a 2013 mugshot)

Winslow was homeless in Shreveport in 2008 when he was approached by an undercover officer seeking to buy drugs (pictured in a 2013 mugshot)

Winslow borrowed a bike, went and found some marijuana and came back to give it to the officers who then gave him $5 so he could buy some food, according to his attorneys at the Innocence Project New Orleans.

Winslow had already been convicted of three previous non-violent crimes - two burglaries and cocaine possession - stretching from when he was a 17-year-old to when he was 36, making him susceptible to the state's repeat offender law.

The Innocence Project New Orleans, headed by Jee Park, took up his case, appealing his life sentence on the grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel, noting that his lawyer at the time failed to present any evidence, or even mention in his 30-second opening statement that his client was homeless and acting merely as a 'runner' for a drug dealer. 

'You read the transcript of his trial and you’re just horrified about what happened,' Park told Yahoo News. '[His attorney] doesn’t object when he gets sentenced to life. He doesn’t file a motion to reconsider … he doesn’t do anything.'

As Rolling Stone reported in its previous coverage of the case, the white drug dealer whom Winslow was working for was never arrested, despite keeping most of the proceeds from the marijuana sales, including the marked $20 bill that landed Winslow in prison for life.   

Winslow was sent to the notorious Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola to serve his life sentence under the state's repeat offender law

Winslow was sent to the notorious Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola to serve his life sentence under the state's repeat offender law

Winslow's daughter Faith (left) said her father has been there for her and he deserves a second chance

Winslow's daughter Faith (left) said her father has been there for her and he deserves a second chance 

After Park successfully appealed Winslow's conviction, he was re-sentenced to time served. 

Park said Winslow received an 'obscenely excessive sentence given his life circumstances and crime, and today, we are correcting that unconstitutional, inhumane sentence.'

Park said Winslow is the third person IPNO has freed this year through the organization new Unjust Punishment Project, which focuses on people who have been sentenced to life imprisonment for nonviolent crimes, particularly drug-related crimes.

Winslow's daughter Faith has set up a GoFundMe account to help her father rebuild his life. As of Thursday afternoon, the campaign has drawn more than $14,000 in donations. 

Faith Winslow Canada said in a statement released through IPNO that despite being incarcerated, her father was there for her when she needed him. 

'He deserves a second chance and I am so glad he is getting one.' she said. 

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