By Cheri Sicard
“We hope you go home soon Larry.”
These are words Larry Duke, serving two life sentences without possibility of parole for a nonviolent marijuana offense, hears from the most unlikely of sources… the federal prison guards who are paid to keep the 68-year-old grandfather incarcerated.
It’s easy to understand why even the prison guards would be on Larry Duke’s side. When you get to know the man even a little bit, the colossal waste of his incarceration becomes readily apparent.
A decorated combat veteran of the Viet Nam war, the assassination of John F. Kennedy prompted Duke to quit high school in his senior year and join the Marines, where he served with Delta Company 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division, 1965-1966, before being honorably discharged.
Larry has been told he is only federal prisoner to hold a U.S. patent, awarded for a water filtration system he designed from his prison cell with the hope of saving the government millions of dollars in bottled water overseas. Since Haliburton already had the potable water contract, nothing came of it, nonetheless Duke holds the patent to a practical, workable potable water system.
His most ambitious project to date is the design of a new high-speed surface transportation system he calls QuantaRail, also conceived and designed from behind prison bars. His biggest hope is to see this project, which would transport passengers at 600 MPH, to fruition and take it on its maiden run. Duke envisions QuantaRail could stimulate the national economy, create 26 million jobs, reduce our nation’s dependency on foreign oil and our carbon footprint, broaden the tax base, and make American made goods more competitive in global markets.
Looking at what he has accomplished from behind bars, it staggers the mind to think what Larry Duke might have done had he not been caught in a government reverse sting operation back in 1989. The offense that earned him two life sentences without possibility of parole happened when Duke showed up to purchase marijuana.
Unbeknownst to him, an informant set Duke up in order to receive a reduced sentence on a prior arrest. The informant, along with undercover DEA agents, delivered the 4,800 pounds of marijuana Duke was going to buy. Larry Duke was charged with two counts of Conspiracy To Possess with Intent to Distribute 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana.
Despite suffering from PTSD as a result of his military service, and in spite of the dire circumstances of his incarceration that began in 1989, Larry Duke remains engaged and optimistic. He reads constantly, avidly keeps up with politics and government, especially in regard to the War On Drugs, and never stops designing, inventing, and working on his projects. In regard to the latter, he would love to have some science and engineering pen pals on the outside to discuss his theories with and help bring his projects to the public.
A kid at heart, Larry says a line from a Garth Brooks song describes him perfectly: “I am much too young to be this damned old!”
Presidential clemency remains Larry Duke’s only chance of ever leaving prison alive.
How You Can Help
Larry asks that supporters sign the petition started by his advocates, asking for President Obama to grant group clemency to nonviolent drug offenders serving life sentences (www.change.org/petitions/president-barack-obama-grant-group-clemency-to-nonviolent-drug-offenders-serving-life-sentences), and to periodically check out his Facebook page (www.facebook.com/pages/Free-Larry-Duke/599075270218548) for news and updates and how you can help with letters of support for new appeals and release efforts.
Email President Obama and ask him to grant clemency to Larry Duke, federal inmate #40734-019.
Email your senators (www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm) and Congressional representatives (www.house.gov/representatives/find/) and ask them to urge the President to grant clemency for Larry Duke, federal inmate #40734-019.
Write To Larry
Larry loves getting cards and letters from supporters and would especially love to hear from people with science or engineering backgrounds.
Write to him here:
Larry R. Duke #40734-019
Federal Correctional Institution
2680 Highway 301 South
Jesup, Georgia 31599-5676
Want to help more? Here’s how to put money directly onto a prisoner’s books — no middle man, ALL of the money goes DIRECTLY to the prisoner – to be used for phone calls, email, legal expenses, food, personal hygiene items, etc.:
Send a postal money order (yes it must be a POSTAL money order or the Bureau of Prisons will not accept it) to:
Federal Bureau of Prisons
Inmate Name, Inmate Register Number
(in this case Larry R. Duke #40734-019 )
Post Office Box 474701
Des Moines, Iowa 50947-0001
Or go to Western Union and find the link on the bottom of the page: “Send money to an inmate.”
Cheri Sicard is a dedicated cannabis activist, vice president of the CAN-DO Foundation (Clemency for All Nonviolent Drug Offenders), the author of The Cannabis Gourmet Cookbook (2012 Z-Dog Media) and the upcoming Mary Jane: The Complete Marijuana Handbook for Women (Seal Press, release date 4-20-15). Her blog is www.CannabisCheri.com.