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Longest-serving inmate with marijuana charge goes free

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Richard DeLisi greets family and loved ones (WPEC)

A Florida inmate is now a free man after serving 31 years in prison for non-violent marijuana charges.

"It's really an amazing feeling but I knew it was a long time coming," said Richard DeLisi.

Richard DeLisi, 71, was the longest serving inmates in the country for non-violent marijuana charges.

He was sentenced to 90 years in prison for racketeering, trafficking cannabis and conspiracy.

"I can personally tell you, as a former prosecutor for Miami-Dade County, I never saw anything like this. It's truly unjust," said Chiara Juster, DeLisi's lead attorney.

DeLisi was charged in 1988 after agreeing to help smuggle more than 100 pounds of marijuana from Colombia into Florida.

"He has been ripped apart from his family for 32 years. And as a society in Palm Beach County, we are no safer because of that," said Attorney Elizabeth Buchanan.

The non-profit The Last Prisoner Project teamed up with attorneys over the summer to work on getting DeLisi free from the South Bay Correctional and Rehabilitation Facility.

"It was absolutely time to do everything in our power towards his release," said Mary Bailey, the group's director.

Tuesday, December 8, DeLisi was released from South Bay. His family, attorneys, and members of The Last Prisoner Project all waited outside of the facility to welcome him back to freedom.

"I'm going to celebrate at the rustic inn, eating some crabs this afternoon," said DeLisi.

"Today we celebrate Richard DeLisi's release, but tomorrow we go back to work because in our state and in our country there are thousands of Richard DeLisis," said Buchana.