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State of Oklahoma v. Will Foster (1995-2009)

posted Jan 29, 2013, 9:41 PM by The Editor   [ updated Jan 30, 2013, 1:26 AM ]

Will Foster's lengthy battle with Oklahoma's justice system was featured in Shattered Lives: Portraits from America’s Drug War.  When the police raided his Tulsa, OK home in 1995, they found a  5 x 5 foot garden sealed in a storm shelter containing medicine Foster used to treat his degenerative rheumatoid arthritis. Foster received a 93-year sentence - 70 years for marijuana cultivation, 20 years for possession of marijuana in the presence of a minor child (his own), 2 years for possession with intent to distribute, and 1 year for not having a tax stamp..  On appeal, he was later able to get his sentence reduced to 20 years.  He ended up serving 4.5 years in prison before being released in 2001. 

However, Oklahoma wasn't done with Foster. Although he had successfully completed his supervised release two and a half years after moving to the Bay Area, the parole board issued a warrant to get him back to serve more time.  Their excuse was that they had made a mistake when calculating the length of his parole.

Things came to a head when Foster was raided and charged with cultivation in northern California, although he claims the grow was legal under the state's medical marijuana law.  After keeping Foster in jail for a year, Sonoma County prosecutors dropped the charges against him.  By then, however, Oklahoma parole authorities demanded he return to the state to finish his original sentence.  Foster tried to fight the extradition on grounds of habeas corpus, but was nonetheless returned to Oklahoma in September 2009. 

 Two months later, though, the parole board and the state governor decided that Foster should be released.  He walked free in late November 2009.