Drug Policy

OK Corral

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Despite widespread sentiment that he does not belong there, Will Foster remains imprisoned at the Lawton Correctional Facility in Oklahoma. Foster, a 40-year-old computer consultant and father of three, was arrested in 1995 for growing marijuana in his basement. (See "Pot of Trouble," May 1997.) Although he said the marijuana was for treating his rheumatoid arthritis, a jury convicted him in 1997 of various drug charges and sentenced him to 93 years.

Last August, saying Foster's sentence "shocks our conscience," an appeals court reduced the time to 20 years, making him eligible for parole. Days later, a parole board voted unanimously to release him. Three prison supervisors who said they rarely intervene on behalf of inmates urged Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating to sign the parole order. After Foster's supporters received discouraging replies, the prisoner wrote to the governor, saying "it is my understanding that you have no intention of approving my parole." He was right. In late January, Keating rejected the parole board's recommendation. Richard Kirby, the governor's spokesman, says the decision was due to "a combination of factors," including strong objections from the district attorney and the fact that Foster had served less than 10 percent of his sentence.

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