Former Black Panther Party member William Potts Jr. has already spent 13 years in a Cuban prison, described by his lawyer Robert Berube as “one of the worst hellholes on the planet,” for hijacking and diverting a New York Piedmont Airlines flight to Havana in 1984, Reuters reports.
“There were no bathroom facilities. There were plastic sheets on the beds because urine drips down through the ceilings,” Berube said, according to Reuters.
Now, 30 years after committing his crime, Potts was sentenced Thursday to an additional 20 years in a U.S. prison, with eligibility for parole coming in seven years.
Potts, who said that the prison time served in Cuba had changed him for the better, asked U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore to factor this into his sentencing.
“I went through a growth process and transformation, and I believe I came out better for it,” Potts said in court, notes Reuters.
Potts, 57, said that fathering two daughters during his residency in Cuba, which was granted after his release from prison there, also shifted his perspective on life. “Everything changes when you become a parent,” he said, reports Reuters. “You realize everything you’ve done before, none of that stuff matters.”
Potts is one of a number of outlaws Cuba has extradited to the U.S. since 2006. In addition, a dozen or so members of the Black Panthers are still believed to be living in Cuba.
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