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Life Sentence Commuted for LSD-Selling Grateful Dead Fan

If he would have just killed someone, he would have been out years ago. -Baxter

Change.org
Change.org

A Grateful Dead fan serving a double life sentence for a drug offense committed more than 20 years ago will now see release in 2018.

Pitchfork reports that 45-year-old Timothy Tyler is among the 111 federal prisoners who were granted reduced sentences by President Obama yesterday as part of an effort to curb “unduly harsh sentences under outdated laws for committing largely nonviolent drug crimes.” Tyler, who sold LSD to a police informant in 1992, was initially handed a double life sentence with no possibility of parole under the “three strikes” mandatory minimum rule.

Tyler is currently set for release on Aug. 30, 2018, after which he’ll have to enroll in a residential drug treatment program. The decision comes after years of advocacy efforts on Tyler’s behalf, including a petition started by his sister Carrie that ultimately gathered more than 420,000 signatures.

“Tim made mistakes when he was young, but after 22 years in prison, he has more than paid his debt to society,” wrote Carrie Tyler in the petition. “He is not a threat to anyone. He wasn’t given a chance to get clean and sober to think about the damage he was doing to his life. They locked him up and threw away the key. It costs $25,000 per year to keep my non-violent brother in prison for a mistake he made more than 20 years ago. So far, that is over half a million dollars. Not only is that not justice, but it’s a waste of money.”

Tyler’s clemency is part of the administration’s efforts to effect prison reform — and he became a face of that movement when the White House announced its shift in policy in 2014. In an interview with CNN, Tyler said he’d been told to enter a guilty plea without understanding he faced life in prison.

“A life sentence, people don’t really understand it,” he noted to CNN at the time. “A man raped his daughter, got probation. A man killed people with his car, got probation. They don’t understand. If they did 10 days in jail, they would understand. … They can’t comprehend.”

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