By Steve Elliott
Federal marijuana prisoner Randy Lanier, 60, a former race car driver, will be released from prison after serving 26 years of a life sentence at the high-security Federal Correction Complex of Coleman in Florida for a 1988 conviction on leading a marijuana drug ring.
U.S. District Judge J. Phil Gilbert has granted a motion by the federal government to reduce Lanier's life sentence and has approved his pending release, reports Jon Saraceno at Autoweek.com. Earlier this year, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. endorsed a proposal to reduce sentencing for convicted drug dealers, while seeking to eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders.
"He has served his time with dignity and respect," said Stephen Ross Johnson, lead attorney for Lanier since 2002. "He has helped mentor young people in the prison system."
The brief order issued by Judge Gilbert gives no reason for the sentence reduction. In addition to his life sentence, Lanier was given an additional maximum of 40 years on a distribution charge and another five years on an IRS fraud charge.
Lanier's release comes with heavy restrictions, including drug-and-alcohol tests, no consumption of alcohol or patronizing of establishments that sell it, no firearms, and no lines of credit without approval from his probation officer.