A mother of two, Calandra was convicted of conspiracy to distribute 1.5 kilograms of crack and sentenced to a 14-year prison term – the minimum for a first-time offender under federal sentencing guidelines. In 2011 and 2012, her sentence was reduced thanks to retroactive changes in the guidelines.
Calandra was born and raised in North Carolina. When she was 11, her mother married an abusive man. The miserable living situation drove Calandra to attempt suicide three years later. Thankfully, Calandra was able to move in with her grandmother where she focused on her studies and graduated from high school. After graduation, Calandra enrolled in technical college, becoming a certified nursing assistant and then a medical technician. She was employed from 1998 to 2006 in various nursing homes and hospitals.
In May 2003, a criminal informant (CI) told officers they had seen cocaine at Calandra’s residence. A search revealed 20.2 grams of crack, 14.2 grams of which was in a friend’s purse. Calandra served 60 days in prison, followed by three years of probation and fines. The offense was later counted as part of her federal conviction. In March 2004, federal agents searched a Forsyth County, NC residence where they discovered firearms, cash and crack cocaine. Several people apprehended in the search became criminal informants (CI’s) in exchange for sentencing leniency. Two of the CI’s, who had lengthy felony records and were charged with gun offenses, testified against Calandra, saying she sold crack to them and allowed the drug to be cooked and stored at her residence. Based on their testimony, Calandra was held accountable for 1.5 kilograms of crack. Calandra takes full responsibility for delivering crack and money on occasion for extra cash, but denies the amount of drugs attributed to her as well as the allegations of cooking and storing drugs.
Calandra pled guilty and was held accountable for 1.5 kilograms of crack. She received a three-point decrease for acceptance of responsibility. With a criminal history category of I, the sentencing guidelines called for a range of 168 to 210 months. The judge sentenced Calandra to the lowest time possible within the guidelines: 14 years in prison. Calandra received a higher sentence than six of her seven codefendants, even though the majority of them were convicted of serious weapons charges.
Calandra has two young children who are being cared for by her mother. Her son is very ill and has to be hooked up to an oxygen tank to breathe. Both of Calandra’s children are extremely distressed by their mother’s absence. While incarcerated, Calandra is studying cosmetology and medical clerking so that she can seek steady employment upon her release.
The Facts: Calandra Calloway
Sentence: 14 years (resentenced to 10 years)*
Offense: Conspiracy to distribute crack
Year of sentencing: 2007
Age at sentencing: 28
Projected release date: August 22, 2014
*In 2011, Calandra was resentenced to 135 months (11 years, 3 months) under the retroactive crack amendment created by the U.S. Sentencing Commission in November 2007. In 2012, she was resentenced to 120 months (the mandatory minimum) under the 2011 retroactive changes to the crack cocaine guidelines.