Pardoned ex-addict wants changes to sentencing guidelines

David Reboredo was sentenced to seven years in jail for selling a few packets of heroin

David Reboredo hugs his girlfriend after his release Monday.
David Reboredo hugs his girlfriend after his release Monday. LALO R. VILLAR

When David Reboredo was sentenced last year to seven years in jail for dealing a few sachets of heroin in 2006 and 2009, he thought it would be the end to his rehabilitation treatments.

The 43-year-old from Vigo had been clean for two years and had not been inside a jail since the 1990s. But his story about how he helped other recovering addicts and worked with people with HIV helped win the public’s sympathy.

Reboredo stepped out of A Lama prison on Monday after he was granted second-grade category, a classification that allowed him to qualify for early release following his pardon by the Cabinet on Friday.

“I found out yesterday,” Reboredo told reporters after calling his folks to come and pick him up. “It was something I imagined could happen at any time during these days after speaking to several counselors, but it is something you are not sure of until it happens.”

Reboredo went public with his case after a judge in Galicia handed down the sentence, which he claimed was severe for dealing small quantities of heroin — 0.2 grams of pure and 0.4 grams of the cut substance in 2006 and 2009. He entered A Lama last December. “I hope this serves to show some courtrooms and judges that they shouldn’t apply tough sentences to lifelong addicts — like myself — for possessing such small amounts,” he said. “I hope they become more sensitive about these things.”

Reboredo said he became involved with heroin at around age 16. He racked up petty theft charges as he struggled to pay for his drug addiction. In 2006, he was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in for selling a sachet, but was able to get the term suspended after pledging not to reoffend and to seek help with his addiction. But in 2009, he was again caught selling the drug and, because he was on probation, received a jail sentence.

His lawyer, who unsuccessfully appealed to the Supreme Court, had been able to obtain pardons for clients in similar circumstances under the previous Socialist administration. Reboredo’s pardon was not granted until last week after increased public debate over who is granted government pardons.

A number of organizations, including Médicos del Mundo and Érguete, vouched for Reboredo's rehabilitation. The former addict has worked with Imán, a support group for HIV positive patients in Vigo, and in therapy sessions for Cedro — the city council’s drug addiction assistance unit. Family, friends and the associations supported him and held demonstrations to support his cause.

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