Update: Dana was released in November 2015 after receiving a sentence reduction under All Drugs Minus Two retroactivity. NPR’s All Thanks Considered chronicled her first days of freedom.
Raised in Texas, Dana lived with both parents until they divorced when she was seven. Several years later, Dana moved in with her father, who was a heavy drug user. She started to experiment with drugs when she was twelve and was using methamphetamine by age 15. Despite her drug use, Dana was an exemplary student, acing her exams and participating in the National Honor Society. After graduating from high school in 1989, she enrolled in an advanced degree program to become a legal secretary, where she maintained a straight-A average. She also completed three courses at a junior college. Dana worked as an administrative assistant and a bartender to put herself through school and pay her bills. Despite her achievements, Dana’s drug addiction worsened. At the time of her arrest, she had been an addict for 15 years.
Dana was arrested in May 2000 in a methamphetamine bust in Texas that involved 15 other individuals, including her father. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) began to monitor the drug ring in 1996 and claimed that throughout the surveillance period Dana delivered money, acted as a courier, and occasionally distributed methamphetamine to other individuals. Dana’s involvement in the conspiracy was motivated by her addiction. She frequently received drugs as payment and only had $11 in her bank account at the time of her arrest—hardly the earnings typical for someone with the level of involvement the DEA attributed to her. When charged, Dana was held accountable for the 12.25 pounds of methamphetamine that the prosecution alleged she distributed throughout the conspiracy (no drugs were found on her person). She took her case to trial and was found guilty of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine and conspiracy to launder monetary instruments at trial.
Because of the amount of methamphetamine attributed to her, Dana’s original guideline level was 36. She received a two-point enhancement for obstruction of justice for allegedly instructing a codefendant to lie on the stand, which resulted in a total offense level of 38. With no prior convictions, Dana was sentenced at the lower end of the guideline range to 19 years and seven months. Although Dana was hardly a “kingpin,” she received a greater sentence than 14 of her 15 codefendants. Aside from Dana, no one received a sentence greater than 180 months, with the exception of her father, who received a 23-year sentence.
Dana was finally able to overcome her addiction while incarcerated. She takes her rehabilitation seriously and has completed the CHANGE program, serving as a mentor for two years. Dana also completed the “puppy program” — raising and training service dogs — and spoke to at-risk teenagers through the SHARE program, where she was thrilled to finally be giving back. Dana says: “I was definitely guilty of wrong doing … I believe that first-time nonviolent offenders should be given a second chance. I know that all I needed was to get off of the drugs to become a productive member of society. I am clean and healthy now and am thankful for that.”
Read Courthouse News Service’s 2014 article about Dana here.
Listen to NPR’s interview with Dana:
The Facts: Dana Bowerman
Sentence: 19 years, 7 months
Offense: Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine; conspiracy to launder monetary instruments
Year sentenced: 2001
Age at sentencing: 30
Projected release date: March 29, 2018