America's Drug Laws at Work: Louisiana Man Serving 13 Years for Weed Denied Clemency

Bernard Noble has already served four years in prison for possession on 2.8 grams of marijuana. In this photo, inmates sit inside a holding cell before being transported to a state prison from New Orleans, September 6, 2005. Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

A Louisiana man sentenced to 13 years in prison for possession of a small amount of marijuana has been denied clemency because he has not yet served 10 years in prison.

In 2011, Bernard Noble, a 49-year-old father of seven children, was convicted of possession of 2.8 grams of marijuana, which advocates say is the equivalent of two joints, and he was sentenced to 13.3 years in prison without the possibility of parole, according to a petition asking Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal to grant clemency initiated by Elnora Noble, Bernard Noble's mother. Due to two prior drug convictions for cocaine and marijuana, Noble was sentenced under Louisiana's habitual offender law, which landed him a sentence of 13-and-one-third years.

Despite the judge in Noble's case reducing his sentence to five years after deeming the initial sentence excessive, it was appealed three time and overturned by Louisiana's Supreme Court, leaving Noble with no choice but to serve his full sentence. Two of Noble's children have health conditions, including autism and rheumatoid arthritis, according to the petition, which has been signed by more than 60,000 people.

Noble has already served four years in prison, but he must serve a minimum of 10 years before being considered for clemency, according to Louisiana state law. Because he has only served four years, the Louisiana Board of Pardons and Parole did not find him not eligible to be recommended to Jindal for clemency consideration.

The denial of clemency is "truly a case of injustice and the vehicle of clemency is totally appropriate here," Anthony Papa, media relations manager at the Drug Policy Alliance, wrote in an article for the Huffington Post. Jindal, a likely Republican candidate for the 2016 presidential nomination, is reportedly considering vetoing legislation that would reduce the state's incarceration rates by reducing the minimum amount of time violent offenders have to serve before being eligible for parole, The Times-Picayune reports.

"Governor Jindal has not shown compassion in this case," Papa, who was granted clemency by New York Governor George Pataki in 1997, told Newsweek. "The governor should examine this case."

"It's a waste of human life," he said.

Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate in the U.S., where more than 71,000 people are incarcerated, according to the Prison Policy Initiative, a criminal justice think tank.

"What happened to Mr. Noble is not what our city is working toward. It is not," New Orleans City Councilwoman Susan Guidry said to a crowd of supporters demanding clemency for Noble in March.