A New Orleans group fights to free a man from a 13 year prison sentence for what they call a minor offense. Now, a city councilwoman is joining the fight.
Saturday afternoon, dozens gathered in the Broadmoor neighborhood to rally for the freedom of Bernard Noble. Most don't know Noble personally, but they believe what happened to him, just isn't right.
Kevin Caldwell, Executive Director of Common Sense NOLA, explains, "He was originally sentenced to four years but D.A. Cannizzaro was not happy with that and actually fought all the way to the State Supreme Court to increase his sentence."
Noble's story starts back in 2011, when he was arrested for possession of marijuana. His supporters say he had 2.8 grams on him, the equivalent of two marijuana cigarettes. Having two previous convictions for drug possession years earlier, Noble was deemed a habitual offender, and ended up with a 13 year prison sentence.
Noble's mother, Elnora, says, "You see people that get out of jail for murder and they gave him all of these years. They took his life away from his family."
"I believe it's a really, really terrible injustice," said New Orleans City Councilwoman Susan Guidry.
Guidry says city leaders are working hard to keep non violent and minor offenders, like Bernard Noble, out of jail and instead steering them towards rehabilitation and diversion programs. Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate in the country, which comes at a hefty cost to taxpayers. Guidry says she's spoken to New Orleans District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro about Noble's case, and expressed her displeasure with his stiff sentence.
"This man had a past of possession of marijuana and it was 10 or more years ago. It's just not using sense and compassion in the criminal justice system," Guidry said.
Kevin Caldwell points out, Noble was jailed for having a small amount of a drug, that's now legal in some other states. His organization is appealing to Governor Jindal for clemency and says the fight will continue until Noble is free.
We reached out to a spokesperson for D.A. Cannizzaro but didn't hear back. Bernard Noble is scheduled to be released in 2024. He has no opportunity for parole.