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| Crime |

The $1.35 Million Joint

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The most expensive joint in the world was never even smoked, CNN.com reported on Saturday.

Most likely, it was confiscated by police and left to rot in an evidence room. This was in the late 1970s, and the joint's true worth was not then apparent. The person in whose possession it was found, the teenaged Bill Dillon, certainly didn't know it. Though history is unclear on this point, he most likely responded to the joint's confiscation and his concurrent arrest with the same stoicism with which most 1970s teenagers greeted these mundane run-ins with law enforcement.

His small-time drug bust was far from his mind in 1981, when Dillon was accused of murdering a man on Canova Beach, in Brevard County.

He hadn't killed anybody, and plenty of people knew it. According to CNN, the witnesses who testified against Dillon recanted not long after his trial, but it didn't matter. Dillon spent almost 30 years in prison before Project Innocence unearthed the DNA evidence that cleared his name. In all, he spent 27 years in prison -- more time than anybody ever cleared by Project Innocence.

Florida feels bad for wrongful convictions and pays ex-inmates $50,000 for every year they spend in prison for crimes of which they're later acquitted. Unless, that is, the inmate in question has a prior felony record. Which, thanks to the United States' formerly draconian marijuana laws, Dillon did.

So that joint cost him $50,000 times 27 years, which is $1.35 million. He probably won't see a dime of it.

Happily, he's got a budding musical career. Dude leaned to sing rather well in the pokey, and now he's releasing a record of what sounds like hard-bitten, autobiographical songs, which he recorded with the help of Jim Tullio -- a Grammy-winning producer who knows from hard-bitten. (He's worked with Rick Danko and Mavis Staples, among many, many others.) Dillon's first single comes out next month on iTunes. It's called "Black Robes and Lawyers," and you oughta buy it. It's a very fine song, and Dillon could use the money.


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