Ivan Wright, 69, is the first inmate convicted under New York’s Rockefeller drug laws to have the rest of his prison sentence set aside under the state’s recent easing of the statutes, the New York Times reports. The proceeding took five minutes yesterday in Brooklyn. Wright had been held since 1985 and was convicted in 1987 of selling three ounces of cocaine to an undercover officer. Justice Lewis L. Douglass of State Supreme Court, who had sentenced him to 25 years to life under the mandatory sentencing laws, declared that 19 years behind bars was enough. The Brooklyn district attorney’s office supported Wright’s application to be resentenced to time served.
Wright will not be staying long. He is an illegal immigrant from Panama subject to a deportation order. One of his lawyers said he would return to Panama voluntarily. Brooklyn district attorney Charles Hynes said Wright had paid his debt to society. “We’re very pleased,” Hynes said. “We try to put things in perspective. He was involved in multiple sales, but he certainly didn’t deserve to spend the rest of his life in jail.”