After a Decade in Prison, Cannabis Offender Eric McCauley Granted Compassionate Release
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After a Decade in Prison, Cannabis Offender Eric McCauley Granted Compassionate Release

Attorney, leaders from The Weldon Project, respond to U.S. District Judge Stephen Bough’s decision.

ST. LOUIS, June 24, 2021 – PRESS RELEASE – U.S. District Judge Stephen Bough of the Western District of Missouri granted the compassionate release motion of cannabis offender Eric Scott McCauley of Columbia, Mo. McCauley was sentenced in 2012 to 23 years in prison for cannabis and money-laundering felonies.

In his order, Bough stated, “Upon review of the record, the court finds further incarceration is not needed to reflect the seriousness of [the] defendant’s crimes, promote respect for the law or provide just punishment for his offenses. [The] defendant has already spent over 12 years in prison. Although the nature and circumstances of [the] defendant’s crimes were serious, the court agrees with [the] defendant that ‘the 12 and a half years [he] has spent in prison is long enough to reflect the seriousness of his offenses, promote respect for the law and provide just punishment for his offense.’”

In response to the ruling, McCauley’s attorney, Barry Grissom, said, “The First Step Act of 2018 allowed for federal judges to take a second look at unduly harsh sentences of individuals like Mr. McCauley and determine if extraordinary and compelling reasons justify reconsideration of continued incarceration. We are grateful that Judge Bough saw fit to order the release of my client after more than a decade served.”

McCauley’s release was supported by Mission Green, a cannabis-offender release, expungement and clemency campaign spearheaded by non-profit The Weldon Project.

Weldon Angelos, a presidential pardon recipient and founder of The Weldon Project, has been advocating for McCauley and others who are serving time for cannabis offenses, in hopes of getting the necessary attention and action from the Biden administration.   

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“Thousands of Americans continue to serve time in prison, while states, as well as the federal government, collect billions of dollars in tax revenue from legal marijuana commerce,” Angelos said. “We call on President Biden to fulfill his campaign promises of decriminalizing marijuana and providing a pathway to expungement for those with marijuana offenses on their records.”

Katie Sinquefield, a Missouri criminal justice reform advocate and board member of The Weldon Project, said, “We are grateful to Judge Bough for issuing this ruling. I’m delighted for Eric, and I’m honored to have helped bring his family back together. It is my hope that this case serves as a guidepost for other non-violent drug offenders serving unduly harsh sentences. While we are thrilled with this outcome for this case, we have a long way to go to reform this state’s and country’s criminal justice system and reverse the harm done to generations of non-violent cannabis offenders."

In a joint statement, Ann McCauley and Ethan McCauley, Eric’s mother and son, said, “We are overwhelmed by the joy of our family being together again and by the support from the community.”