After finishing high school, Eric immediately began to work full-time in landscaping and construction. He learned his strong work ethic from his mother, who worked hard to provide for Eric when he was a child. Several years later, Eric secured steady employment with a local contracting company and became engaged to his longtime girlfriend. Unfortunately, youthful recreational drug use spiraled into a serious cocaine addiction that drove Eric deep into debt to a drug dealer. The dealer promised to forgive the debt if Eric would sell some cocaine for him.
Eric agreed and sold small amounts of the drug to friends and acquaintances over the next two years. He used the extra money he earned to pay for his own addiction. At this point, Eric was using 80 to 90 grams (about 3 ounces) of cocaine each week. He managed to hide his drug problem from family members, who saw Eric as happily engaged and gainfully employed. In 2003, a person who was facing drug charges made a deal with the police to make controlled buys of cocaine from Eric, in exchange for a reduced sentence. When the police arrested Eric, they found over 200 grams of cocaine (over 7 ounces) and a small amount of marijuana (less than 1/10 of an ounce) at his apartment.
Eric pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 13 years in prison, with a 10-year mandatory minimum. His fiancée was threatened with a 15-year mandatory minimum for drug trafficking because she lived with Eric, but prosecutors agreed to give her probation after Eric accepted the plea bargain.
During his incarceration, Eric worked hard to turn his life around. He was selected to take part in the “cadre program” at Bridgewater State Hospital, where prisoners work full-time doing the jobs that patients can’t do for themselves. He was also a peer educator in the Alternatives to Violence Project and earned numerous certificates, including one qualifying him to teach fellow prisoners about the risks of HIV and other diseases. Eric deeply regretted the impact his poor choices had on his family, especially his mother, whom Eric calls his “biggest support.”
Due to the 2012 sentencing reforms, Eric became eligible for parole after serving eight years. In 2013, he was granted parole, five years before his original release date. Within days of returning home, he was back to work at his old job and faithfully attending AA meetings.
The Facts: Eric Duphily
Offense: Trafficking in cocaine
Court: Massachusetts state court
Sentence: 13 years
Priors: Misdemeanor possession of cocaine
Year sentenced: 2005
Age at sentencing: 30
Original release date: 2017
Eligible for parole: 2013