He sold pot, and now he's serving up 60 years in prison. Gov. Whitmer may be his only hope.


Michael Thompson was sentenced to up to 60 years in prison. - MICHIGAN DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS
  • Michigan Department of Corrections
  • Michael Thompson was sentenced to up to 60 years in prison.

Michael Thompson worries he’s going to die behind bars.

In 1996, he was sentenced to up to 60 years in prison.

He’s not a murderer, rapist or terrorist. He sold 3 pounds of marijuana to an undercover informant in a state where recreational marijuana is now legal.

The 68-year-old is not eligible for parole until he’s in his late 80s.

"I can't die in here," Thompson, of Flint, told WNEM-TV in a phone interview from Muskegon Correctional Facility. "For what? Some marijuana and some guns in a locked closet?"

After Gov. Rick Snyder denied Thompson’s request for clemency two years ago, a movement called “Free Michael Thompson” has gained steam. Central to the movement is a website where more than 21,000 people have sent a letter to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, urging her to set Thompson free.

“His mother, his father and his only son died while he was in prison,” the site reads. “And recreational marijuana has been legalized in Michigan. Now we’re going to fight to get Michael free. We can do it. We must.”

Whitmer was unavailable for comment Monday.

When Thomspon was arrested, police found several guns in a locked closet at his home. Although he was not armed when he sold the pot, prosecutors charged him with possession of a firearm while committing a felony. And since he had prior convictions — all of them nonviolent and involving drugs — Thompson was hit with Michigan’s Habitual Offender Law, which dramatically increased his sentence.

"Michael's house had no drugs, no drug money, but it had a number of guns," Thompson’s attorney Kimberly Corral said. "A lot of them were antique guns in a locked closet."

Thompson has lost a lot in the nearly 25 years he’s been in prison.

“I've lost my only son. He was my best friend. And I loved him,” he said. “My favorite nephew. I lost my mother and my father. All these losses for what? I'm in here and i didn't kill anyone."

Stay on top of Detroit news and views. Sign up for our weekly issue newsletter delivered each Wednesday.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at letters@metrotimes.com.

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.