Article from Reason by C.J. Ciaramella.

After 11 years behind bars, a Tennessee man whose mandatory minimum sentence for a first-time drug offense drew local and national attention will be freed today, his lawyer announced.

Calvin Bryant was sentenced to 17 years in prison, 15 of them mandatory, for a first-time drug offense under Tennessee’s drug-free school zone laws, which rank among the harshest in the nation. Since then, his supporters—family, friends, criminal justice advocacy groups, members of the Nashville City Council, and even one of the prosecutors who put Bryant behind bars—have worked to free him. Reason reported on Bryant’s case last year.

According to Bryant’s lawyer, Daniel Horwitz, the Davidson County District Attorney, Glenn Funk, convinced the Tennessee Attorney General’s office to drop its opposition to Bryant’s appeal of his sentence, and instead let him plead guilty to a reduced charge and be released on time served.

“We are deeply grateful for the outpouring of support for Mr. Bryant from across the city, the state, and the nation,” Horwitz said in a statement. “Without so many people standing behind him—and without a District Attorney who was willing to use his discretion to remedy a gross and obvious injustice—this result would never have been possible, and after more than a decade of purposeless incarceration for a first-time non-violent drug offense, Mr. Bryant would still be counting the days until the end of his seventeenth year in prison.”

Read the entire article at Reason.

Image Credit: By St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons