March 2001: Letter from and to an Innocent
I am writing in regards to a sentence I received. I was born in California but now resided in Mountain View Ark, Stone City. I was arrested for delivery of marijuana of which the agents set me up. I didn't (don't) sell or take drugs but I was approached by someone I believe to be a friend & they asked if I know where I could get some & I did. So I got it for him & a supposedly good friend of his. Through me they arrested the people selling. Thou I was unaware at the time that they were using me I believed I was just doing a favor for a good friend. For that I received 8 years on each count & there was 5 times before they arrested the people who were selling it. I am a first defendant & in all respects I didn't do it except that they came to me & ask me for a favor. The Seller got 5 years probation on a plea bargain. I got 8 years on each count on a plea bargain. I don't know if you can do anything for me or not. I had to take the plea bargain cause they stress it would be much worst to go to a jury trial. If there is anything you can do please let me know as I am now awaiting to go to prison as the prison are all full.
Your letter is very disturbing, but unfortunately what happened to you is all too common. Until it happens to a member of the public, someone like you, people do not know what getting caught up in the War on Drugs means. As I understand it from your letter, what happened to you is:
(1) You are set up by a male friend (someone you were fond of?) who gets protection for himself by working for the government; such a person is called an informer or confidential informant;
(2) He gets 5 years probation and no prison time by being willing to testify against you and probably others, quite possibly telling lies; probation in his case means he goes around and sets up more people the same as he did you;
(3) There were "five times before they arrested the people who were selling it," meaning that you were tricked into obtaining higher and higher amounts, until the total amount adds up to a whopping prison sentence;
(4) Your defense attorney (court appointed and therefore working for the system?) advises you to plead guilty because it would be "much worse at a jury trial," but how do we know a jury, even in Arkansas, would convict if the facts came out in a properly conducted defense?
(5) As a result of all this, I expect that you and your family have had your lives destroyed, and this is called justice.
In your letter you ask if the Committee can do anything to help you. Well, we are concerned citizens who have no legal clout. We think we are intelligent people who see through the fraud and trickery of the War on Drugs. When the justice system of a country has gone downhill the way ours has in the United States, the country is in serious trouble. People on the Committee do everything we can to make citizens aware of the evil in their midst. While we do not have a way to get legal help for people, and in any case the "legal help" people get is often useless, in the long run the best way to turn the War on Drugs around and free prisoners like you from prison, is to educate the public on the sinful thing the War on Drugs is.
We try to educate people in different ways. One is to put on POW conferences at the college level to educate the students. One is to publish books written by POWs - there is a book coming out this year by 100 women POWs from the federal prison in Tallahassee that we hope will change how people think about the War on Drugs. Another is a web site on the internet. This is written by and for POWs, who know what the War on Drugs really is.
It's not a nice thing to have to say, but I don't see how to help you in the terrible situation you are in, not directly. But we can help you to help you. If you write and describe everything that happened to you, how you don't do drugs and yet you got into the hell you are in now, tell about your children or family and how this has affected them, say how looking back you fit the pieces together and how this guy was making use of you for his own purposes (pretending he loved you?), say how the defense attorney convinced you to plead guilty and go without a jury trial ("Wasting the court's time?" "They don't like it and you will get a life sentence," or whatever) - if you put this down on paper, we will post your letter on the web site. In that way you will tell the whole world how you feel about the "justice" system.
Enclosed is an article about the Committee on Unjust Sentencing, and one about the web site. I hope you get this letter and we can establish communication. Only if we work together, prisoners on the inside and people who love justice on the outside, can we bring the terrible thing that is happening to our country to an end.