December 22, 1998
Will Foster To Spend Another Christmas Behind
Medical Marijuana Patient Remains Incarcerated Despite Parole Board's Plea
For Early Release
December 22, 1998, Oklahoma City,
OK: Medical marijuana patient Will Foster will spend another Christmas in
jail despite unanimous approval from the state's parole board to release him.
"Will Foster is a loving husband and father of two children who has been wrongly imprisoned for his efforts to treat a painful and debilitating condition with medical marijuana," NORML Executive Director R. Keith Stroup, Esq. said. "It is unconscionable for Gov. Frank Keating to allow Will to spend another Christmas apart from his family after a parole board moved to correct this injustice. It is time for Will Foster to come home."
An Oklahoma jury sentenced Foster in 1997 to 93 years in jail for cultivating marijuana in a 25-square foot underground shelter and other lesser marijuana-related charges. Foster maintains that he grew the marijuana to alleviate the pain of rheumatoid arthritis; however, Oklahoma law does not accept the defense of medical necessity as a basis for acquittal on a marijuana charge.
This fall, an appeals court judge found Foster's sentence excessive and reduced the term to 20 years. At Foster's first parole board hearing days later, officials unanimously voted to release him on parole upon approval from Gov. Frank Keating. Keating has thus far refused to act on the parole board's request despite thousands of phone calls, e-mails, and letters from Foster's supporters. Several of Foster's prison supervisors have also written Keating urging his release. They each label Foster as an exemplary inmate who deserves to be reunited with his family.
Danny Earls, Unit Manager at North Fork Correctional Facility, writes on Foster's behalf: "I have worked in prisons for a many number of years. I rarely intervene on any inmate's behalf. Mr. Foster and his case are definitely an exception."
Unit Manager Tim Brown agrees. "I believe Mr. Foster should be given a second chance to resume his life with his family ... and start a new and better life ... for himself."
"Everybody who has reviewed this case, including the appeals court and the parole board, has concluded Will Foster's sentence was a miscarriage of justice," Stroup summarized. "Governor Keating must do what is right and grant Foster's parole."
The NORML Foundation urges concerned parties to contact the governor and demand parole for Will Foster so he may be reunited with his family. Contact Gov. Frank Keating at the following address:
Gov. Frank Keating
State Capitol Building, Room 212
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
(P) (405) 521-2342
(F) (405) 521-3317 or (405) 523-4224
For further background on the Will Foster case, please visit the May 1997 issue of Reason Magazine online at: http://www.reasonmag.com/9705/col.smith.html. For more information, please contact either Keith Stroup of NORML @ (202) 483-5500 or Adam Smith of the Drug Reform Coordination Network @ (202) 293-8340.