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An Arizona board has refused to shorten the 16-year jail sentence of a 29-year-old man who sold an undercover police officer an ounce of weed.
Trent Bouhdida had an encounter with an undercover Tempe detective back in 2015 and eventually sold the officer marijuana on four occasions, which added up to a total of one ounce.
He was convicted on four counts of selling marijuana and received an 11-year and three-month sentence, according to Phoenix New Times.
However, he received an additional five years because he was on probation for an armed robbery case when he was just 15 years old.
Court records show that while Bouhdida pleaded guilty at the time, he had not physically participated in any of the robberies.
Trent Bouhdida’s case was recently subjected to a hearing by the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency to decide whether he was worthy of a reduced sentence.
One of the board members Mina Mendez said of the case: “When I first glanced at this file, I was a little bit torn, because I do think selling an ounce of marijuana is not, on its face, deserving of such a lengthy prison sentence.”
However, the rest of the board members thought otherwise, deciding the sentence was fair for the crime and referenced Bouhdida’s misdemeanours when he was just a teenager.
A board statement read: “Considering his participation in violent crime with street gang affiliation, I believe his sentence was appropriate.”
Although Bouhdida has been taking college classes and has worked as a GED tutor while in jail, the board deemed it did not outweigh his disciplinary history.
Please boost this, Trent Bouhdida is a black man, father, and musician who was sentenced to *sixteen years* in prison for selling *one ounce* of marijuana to an undercover cop. Donate to his GoFundMe or boost as much as possible, anything helps! https://t.co/lqpfOafkIm— WASR 10 gf (@druid_girl) August 26, 2020
The board reviews cases of inmates several years into their sentences and passes on recommendations to Governor Doug Ducey on whether to sign off on the reduced sentence.
Governor Ducey has rarely approved clemency in the past, even after a board has unanimously recommended it.
So Bouhdida was already facing an uphill battle in this case, which was made more difficult after the Governor had appointed a board that was made up of a majority of members who had had previous careers in law enforcement.
Mina Mendez was a former prosecutor, Louis Quinonez was a former federal agent, and Michael Johnson was a former detective.
The current board makeup has been under scrutiny in the past due to a statutory requirement that no two board members should come from the same profession.
However, a Count Superior Court judge dismissed the case on the basis that the board members came from different lines of law enforcement, and that law enforcement itself was not a profession.