UPDATE: On August 30, 2016, Tim Tyler was granted executive clemency after serving 22 years in federal prison. Tim will be released on August 30, 2018.
Tim Tyler was sentenced to a mandatory life sentence in federal prison for selling LSD while traveling around the country following the Grateful Dead. He was 25 years old when he was sentenced and has spent nearly half of his life behind bars.
Tim grew up in Connecticut with his mother, but moved to Florida to live with his father when he was a teenager. After graduating from high school, Tim traveled around the country following the Grateful Dead, and became a heavy user of LSD. Unfortunately, he developed mental health problems and was hospitalized multiple times as a teenager and young adult.
He also became entangled in the criminal justice system. In 1991, Tim was arrested twice for selling LSD and received probation both times. Then, in May 1992, Tim sold marijuana and LSD to a confidential informant. Over the next two months, Tim mailed packages containing LSD to the informant. He was arrested in August and charged along with three codefendants, including his father. Tim pled guilty to possession with intent to deliver LSD and conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute LSD.
In March 1994, 25-year-old Tim was sentenced to mandatory life without parole in federal prison. Tim’s codefendants received five and 10 year sentences. Timothy’s father died in prison while serving his 10-year prison term.
Read this Business Insider profile of Tim Tyler.
Read Rolling Stone‘s “The Nation’s Shame: The Injustice of Mandatory Minimums,” which features Tim Tyler’s story.
Watch a video about Tim.
A note on Tim’s sentence calculation:
Tim’s life sentence was determined by two factors: his two prior drug offenses and the amount of LSD he was convicted of selling, which included the “carrier” weight of the paper the LSD was placed on. Ten grams or more of LSD (including the weight of the carrier) on a third offense triggers a mandatory minimum sentence of life in prison. Without the mandatory minimum), Timothy would have received a sentence of 262-327 months under the federal sentencing guidelines. Instead, taxpayers will continue to finance the incarceration of a nonviolent drug offender – at $28,000 a year and rising – for the rest of his life.
The Facts: Tim Tyler
Offense: Conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute LSD
Priors: Two LSD distribution charges in the state of Florida in 1991 (he received probation on both charges).
Year sentenced: 1994
Age at sentencing: 25
Projected release date: President Obama granted Tim Tyler executive clemency on August 30, 2016. He will be released on August 30, 2018.