FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – An emotional homecoming Thursday night for a man who spent more than three decades in prison for selling marijuana.
Family and friends of Richard DeLisi gathered at a drive-in movie theater in Fort Lauderdale for a socially distant celebration.
DeLisi, who is 71 years old now, was sentenced to 90 years behind bars for drug trafficking back in 1989.
He had been locked up in Palm Beach County ever since. But with his prison term recently shortened, he’s now he’s a free man.
He prefers not to dwell on lost memories and time he’ll never get back. He’s not angry, and instead takes every opportunity to express gratitude and hope.
“Prison changed me. I never really knew who God was and now I know and it changed the way I talk to people and treat people,” said DeLisi, who became a mentor to younger inmates. “For me, being there so long, I was able to take gang members from gangs to gentleman.”
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When the then-40-year-old hipster with the thick Italian accent first entered prison, he was illiterate, but taught himself how to read and write.
Now, he wants “to make the best of every bit of my time” fighting for the release of other inmates through his organization FreeDeLisi.com.
“The system needs to change and I’m going to try my best to be an activist,” he said.
DeLisi is believed to be the longest-serving inmate for a non-violent marijuana crime.