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Oliver B.’s Story: Prison Is the Wolf That Scatters Sheep

My brother has served 25 years of a mandatory life sentence for a nonviolent drug offense. John is now 70 years old with no prospects...
John acknowledges that he was wrong by getting involved with drugs and has said that it was something that he is truly ashamed of doing, especially because our mother and father instilled a set of values in each of us. He yearns for an opportunity to get involved with our...

Cynthia Powell: 25 Years for 35 Pills

Cynthia Powell was not an addict. She was not a dealer. She sold 35 of her diabetes pain pills to a confidential informant—for $300. Just...
“She was never an addict,” says Jackie. “She wasn’t a drug user, or a drug dealer.” She was charged with trafficking in hydrocodone over 28 grams, less than 30 kilos and possession with intent to sell or deliver a legend drug (prescription).

Calvin Bryant: 17 Years for a First Offense

Beloved by friends, family, teachers, and co-workers, Calvin Bryant is now serving 17 years for a first-time offense. His sentence was grossly enhanced by Tennessee’s...
Life delivered him a harsh blow, in the form of a government informant. This person, a longtime family friend, pressured Calvin repeatedly to get ecstasy pills for him. He played on Calvin’s sympathies, telling Calvin that he needed the drugs to make money to feed his family.

The Story of Mandy Martinson

Mandy Martinson was serving 15 years in federal prison for helping her dealer-boyfriend in exchange for feeding her methamphetamine addiction. Mandy’s judge, unable to go...
the judge was forced to give Mandy a mandatory minimum of 10 years for the conspiracy and possession charges, and a mandatory five-year consecutive term for the gun charge, for a total sentence of 15 years behind bars.
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Michael Daniels, Sr.: A Long Sentence “Sucks the Life Out of Someone”

This father shares a special bond with his son, one forged in cooking, family foods and traditions, and lots of father-son time—not to mention that they share a name. That bond remains strong even as the whole family suffers during...Read More
Issue: Sentencing
Jacqueline mother prison photo

Jacqueline C.’s Story: “There Is No More Pretending to Be Okay”

Jacqueline’s mother has been in prison since 1999 on drug conspiracy charges. Her deterioration in prison has been shocking—and has taken a huge toll on the whole family.  Read More
Issue: Sentencing

My Story: Danielle W.

Danielle’s husband Keith is currently serving a 270-month mandatory minimum sentence. Danielle has written a book about her experiences as a “prison wife” and an accompanying blog,  Read More
Issue: Sentencing
Edna Harris

Edna Harris: Getting Past the Pity Party

Here’s how and why on how I have become an advocate for my ex-husband, incarcerated in federal prison. Yes, you read that right: ex-husband. We are still close, and I can’t sit by and watch injustice. The more I ponder...Read More
Issue: Compassionate Release

Derrick Cain

Derrick Cain was sentenced to a 10-year mandatory prison term for selling cocaine. When his wife went back to school to become a pediatric nurse, Derrick’s salary alone wasn’t enough to keep them afloat, so he worked during the day...Read More
State: Pennsylvania
Issue: Mandatory Minimums

Nicole Walker: Her Sobriety Didn’t Matter at Sentencing

Nicole was an addict who got clean, turned her life around, and was a productive member of society. But the judge was unable to consider any of this when sentencing her to a mandatory 10 years in prison.Read More
Issue: Mandatory Minimums

Rufus Rochell: A Gentleman and a Gentle Man

Despite his 35-year sentence for a drug crime, Rufus Rochell remains upbeat, kind, and forward-looking. For more than three decades behind bars, he’s immersed himself in service to others—a kind of remarkable self-rehabilitation.  Read More
Issue: Federal

Yolanda Flournah-Perkins

In 2004, two semesters before she was set to graduate from the University of Central Florida with a degree in criminal justice, then-23-year-old Yolanda Perkins was sentenced to 37 months in prison for possession of stolen mail, a white-collar offense....Read More
State: Florida
Issue: Sentencing
Kenneth Graham Stanley

Kenneth “Graham” Stanley

This first-time offender spiraled into selling drugs — “the worst decision I’ve ever made” — after his addiction took fierce hold and wouldn’t let go. The judge at his trial said the long mandatory sentence was “quite harsh,” but he...Read More
State: North Carolina
Issue: Sentencing