In this drug offense, petitioner was a 21 year old heroin addict. On September 18th, two agents of the Sheriff’s Department of Louisiana, accompanied by a paid informant, and encountered petitioner. Aware of petitioner’s addiction, they asked him whether he had any heroin. He answered that he did not but agreed to “score a bundle” for them. This jargon describes the purchase of 25 packets of individual doses of heroin, a retail transaction. Petitioner telephoned his “connection” (i.e. his supplier), the agents provided the funds to enable him to make the purchase and he left to accomplish the transaction. He returned with 22 packets. The agents took 19 and allowed him to retain three.
Some months later, a New Orleans Heroin Possession Lawyer said that petitioner was arrested, tried and convicted of distributing heroin (drug possession). Petitioner testified at trial. He did not deny the facts set forth above, but contended that he was entrapped. He admitted that his addiction required five to six packets of heroin each day, but he was not able to afford that much. He paid $10 to $12 per packet. He was employed as a carpenter earning $3 per hour, but he did not work steadily. He admitted that he had previously been convicted of two felonies, burglary and theft by fraud. His wife testified that, while she also worked, her husband was a good provider for her and their one child. A New Orleans Drug Crime Lawyer said that petitioner was sentence to life imprisonment without parole for distributing heroin.
A New York Criminal Lawyer said the issue in this case is whether petitioner’s sentence is grossly disproportionate to his crime as to contravene the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishments.