Life Without Parole for a First-Time, Nonviolent Drug Offender

"President Obama, Commute Sharanda Jones' Sentence."


Red State

Over at Red State, Leon H. Wolf introduces us to the heartbreaking case of Sharanda Jones, who is cooling her heels in a federal prison until she dies there.

In 1999, Jones was 

convicted of a single, non-violent drug offense involving crack cocaine. This conviction stemmed from her first ever arrest, and she was not even caught with crack in her possession….

Sharanda was convicted based on the testimony of two government informants who themselves were facing draconian drug sentences. The thrust of their testimony was that they had, over the course of several years, received several shipments of crack cocaine from Sharanda, who according to their understanding had brought the cocaine up from Houston to Terrell (northeast Dallas metro area) for them. There was no allegation that Sharanda had ever committed a violent act, and she was not ever caught with any amount of crack in her possession. By the uncontested testimony at trial, Sharanda did not supply the crack herself or distribute it, but rather acted as a conduit to transfer it from Houston to Terrell.

Sharanda was initially charged with seven criminal counts, and pled not guilty to all seven.

Read the whole thing here and I suspect you'll agree with Wolf's headline plea: "President Obama, Commute Sharanda Jones' Sentence."

Earlier this summer, The Washington Post wrote about Jones. In 2014, the paper noted, Attorney General Eric Holder began granting clemency to non-violent drug offenders who had been model prisoners. There are about 100,000 federal prisoners in on drug charges, "among them thousands of nonviolent offenders sentenced to life without the possibility of parole, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. Most are poor, and four in five are African American or Hispanic."

Jones applied under that program, reported the Post.

It has been a halting process, however. Only 89 prisoners of the more than 35,000 who have filed applications have been freed. They include 46 inmates who were granted clemency on Monday by Obama.

Jones wasn't among them.

Red State's Wolf concludes

Until a day comes where one [there is] a more politically palatable solution, all Sharanda Jones can do is pray that someday, someone in a position of authority will determine that she has been punished enough, and that she should be given the second chance that we all deep down believe that we deserve for our mistakes.

Jones' case—and all the others like, especially in these early days of the end of the war on pot and, one assumes eventually, the end of the war on drugs—should haunt us all.

Your kids and your grandkids will one day ask, What did you do during the drug war? I hope that we will all be able to answer in a way that makes our descendants proud—and more free.

Hat Tip: Popehat.