Clemency for father of terminally ill child serving 18 years for nonviolent drug charges
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My name is Ayatt, and I’m facing every parent’s worst nightmare: a child diagnosed with a terminal disease. Adding to the heartbreak, his father is serving an 18-year prison sentence for a first offense, nonviolent drug charge. I am fighting for our family to have as much time together as possible, and need your help.
My husband, Yehia Hassen, faced a hard choice 6 years ago: he was charged with conspiracy to distribute marijuana and cocaine, which carries a lifetime sentence without the chance of parole. It’s a charge that many are found guilty of based solely on the word of others who are testifying in order to avoid a lifetime sentence of their own. Yehia was afraid that if he went to trial, he’d be locked up behind bars for the rest of his life.
So he turned himself in and accepted a plea deal, thinking that 18 years behind bars was better than a lifetime away from his wife and four children. He had no idea that his son would be diagnosed with Ataxia Telangiectasia (A-T). The average life expectancy of those with A-T is 25 years. The disease ravages the brain and immune system, and prevents the repair of broken DNA. It’s a horrible illness that often ends in lung disease and cancer.
As you can imagine, I want to make sure that the time my son has with us is as comfortable and happy as possible. A big part of that is being sure his father is at his side. The only way for that to happen is for him to be granted clemency by President Obama.
My husband and I understand there are consequences when you break the law, but the war on drugs has brought unjust and extreme sentences. The justice system threatens people with life in prison without the possibility of parole for nonviolent drug charges, a far harsher sentence than many who are convicted of rape, child molestation, or even murder receive. This is just wrong.
Yehia is not a bad man. While he may have gotten mixed up with drugs, something he now regrets, he has always been a loving and caring husband and father. My husband is hardworking, funny, and anyone who has met him instantly feels they have a new friend. Most importantly, he wants nothing more than to be there for his children.
I am a mother trying to do what’s best for her family. My hope is that, with the support of people like you, my family can be whole again and can create lasting memories outside prison walls, before it is too late. Please sign and share the petition today asking for President Obama to grant Yehia Hassen clemency.
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