Free Paul Fields, and Lower Mandatory Minimum Sentencing!
Please sign this petition to lower mandatory minimum sentencing AND FREE PAUL FIELDS and other non-violent offenders who partook of what has become LEGAL in some states!
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Let's chant in our minds, "Free Paul Fields!!!" and make it happen, because it CAN be done!
Below are Paul's own words, from 6/13/2016, from his mind and heart; please take a moment to understand and to aim for his freedom:
My relationship with my precious 7-year-old daughter is the most important thing in my life, but the last time I saw her at home was when she was 8 months old.
Now, every Father’s Day brings heartbreak. Every Father’s Day, I can only see my little girl behind bars.
I am serving 15 1/2 years in prison with no parole for a marijuana offense. Today, a number of states have decriminalized marijuana. Attitudes and the laws have changed. Yes, I broke the law and deserve to be punished, but 15 years is too long for a crime in which I didn’t threaten or hurt anyone.
How did my life spiral into incarceration? I was a successful restaurant owner and manager in the pizza business. I adored my wife and we were generally pretty happy. I occasionally enjoyed marijuana and even began growing some.
Then, after a 10-year marriage, my wife left me. I was devastated, consumed in a haze of self-pity and pain. I sold my business and set out on the road to follow one of my favorite rock bands, Phish. I made poor decisions that resulted in me being arrested several times with small amounts of marijuana.
Years later, that came back to haunt me. In 2009, I remarried. Though excited about the impending birth of my first child, the nation was in recession, and I was laid off from my full-time management position. To support my new family I began to grow marijuana. After I pled guilty, I remember sitting in the courtroom stunned as the judge said he had no choice but to issue this long sentence. Under federal sentencing guidelines, he said, I was a “career offender” because of my past marijuana violations.
I thought I was an isolated case, but I learned from the sentencing reform organization Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) that there are thousands of nonviolent offenders caught in the snare of those these laws. Like me, they languish behind bars. FAMM believes the punishment should fit the crime and the offender’s role – a fundamental American value
Our nation spends almost $80 billion a year to incarcerate people, many of whom are nonviolent offenders who pose no threat to public safety. Certainly, we could be contributing to our economy and our communities by working, paying taxes and raising our families instead of sitting around waiting for our time to be served.
Every day I serve in prison, my family serves it with me. My dad traded in his long-awaited retirement to help my wife care for our child. At 82 my mom is confined to a wheelchair with congestive heart failure. At 86, my dad suffers debilitating arthritis and is unable to perform most physical chores to assist my mom. I need to be there to care for them in their last years.
But perhaps it’s my daughter, Corrina, who suffers the most. I worry that she will develop the common ailments seen in many children with a parent behind bars: stress, trauma, stigmatization and separation problems. Sadly, Corrina is not alone. Recent statistics show that one out of 28 children in the United States has a parent in prison – an estimated 2 million children between the ages of 5 and 18.
My wife brings my daughter every other weekend to see me when possible. We talk on the phone often, and I write a little note to her daily. I want her to always know how much I love and miss her, and that I think of her every day.
Congress and our state need to end mandatory minimum sentences. Fortunately, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul has been a champion for sentencing reform for several years now. He knows these laws are too expensive, don’t make us safer and destroy lives and families. But Kentucky, hard hit by a heroin problem, passed harsh mandatory minimum drug laws. As a result, I believe the state’s prison population remains stubbornly high. And those mandatory minimum laws clearly have not deterred drug trafficking or drug abuse, as proponents claimed they would.
Most politicians probably don’t think of fathers like me when they vote for mandatory sentences, but they should. And if they can't muster any compassion for someone who makes a mistake, maybe they can find it for the children, like mine, who will be without their dads for decades. Even the hardest heart must acknowledge that the odds of repeating the generational cycle of incarceration increase the longer a parent is in prison.
This Fathers Day, please pause to think about the fathers in prison trying – against all odds – to maintain ties with their children. We are all better off when our sentences fit our crimes and our kids can have us at home when it might still make a difference.
Paul Fields is from Hindman, Ky., where he and his parents were born and raised
Another demonstration of the correctness of releasing Paul from incarceration is Pari Fields' letter, below, to President Obama, dated 7/20/16. Pari's efforts have been valiant and honorable; please take a moment to read her mindful courage:
Dear President Obama,
I am writing to humbly and urgently seek your approval for my husband Paul Fields’ (Federal ID # 21542074) application for clemency. In 2010, Paul was sentenced to 188 months, or 15.5 years, for growing cannabis. Since his incarceration, beginning in 2010, Paul has taken many of the classes offered at Camp Lee, as gestures of personal growth. Additionally, Paul has held various work positions in Camp Lee, ranging from food-service and kitchen-work to factory-work with Unicorp, and he recently got promoted to a senior position at the Camp Lee Commissary. Paul applies himself so well that all of his supervisors have encouraged him to take other, more challenging positions that require greater responsibilities.
Paul even teaches yoga to other inmates and participates in numerous team sports in his free time. In all, Paul is a good and capable man. And the recent legalization of cannabis in some states of the Union, together with his time served, strongly suggest that is time to bring him home so that he can return to being a hard-working, contributing member of society.
Most importantly, Paul needs to be home to resume his most important job: being a full-time father to our 7-year-old daughter, Corrina, who has no memory of her father living at home and keeps asking, “When is Daddy coming home?”
I have done an uncommonly valiant and courageous job as a single parent, newly accepting work as an ultrasound technologist in Louisville, Kentucky after going to school for 2.5 more years, post-college. I add this to your consideration so that you get the full scope of our commitment, as parents and people, to do the right things.
Mr. President, I beg you to grant clemency to Paul Fields (Federal ID # 21542074). He has done sufficient time by any reasonable standards in the modern age, and for his daughter to miss out on her father for the duration of her youth is a potential and unwarranted threat to her future well-being. With utmost respect, Pari
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