Almost 15 years ago my mother began serving a life sentence with no possibility of parole for her first ever conviction - a nonviolent drug offense. I was 8 years old at the time and my world as I knew it was shattered.
My mother’s name is Sharanda Jones and out of desperation to support our family, she made the bad decision to become involved in distributing drugs. In 1999 she was convicted of conspiracy to distribute crack-cocaine and sentenced to life in prison under mandatory minimum sentencing laws.
Even though she was a first-time offender, prosecutors painted her as a “leader” and allowed her supplier to testify against her in exchange for a lowered sentence of 19 years. The supplier has already been released from prison, but my mom will never get a second chance. Yes, my mom sold drugs but she wasn’t a kingpin - she only had $250 in her bank account when she was arrested.
My mom doesn't deserve to die in prison, she has served enough time. Will you sign my Change.org petition calling for President Obama to grant her clemency?
The mandatory minimum sentencing laws that sent my mom to prison for the rest of her life have since been reduced by Congress but are not retroactive. Those laws created a 100:1 sentencing disparity between powder and crack cocaine and were based on assumptions about crack cocaine now known to be false. The impact of that disparity fell disproportionately on African-American families.
My mother committed a crime and she deserved to be punished, but life without parole is the second most severe penalty permitted by law in America next to the death penalty. After over 14 years in prison, she has paid her debt to society, been rehabilitated, and deserves to reunite with me - her only child - and our family.
My mother can only be free if President Obama grants her clemency. Her clemency petition is on file with the U.S. Office of the Pardon Attorney. With your support, I believe that he will -- just four months ago President Obama granted clemency to 8 non-violent crack-cocaine offenders.
Being without my mother for over 14 years has been extremely difficult. But the thought that she will die in prison as a first-time non-violent offender is what devastates me each day.
Please click here to sign my petition calling on President Obama to grant clemency to my mother Sharanda Jones.