President Trump grant my dad his freedom after serving 30yrs for nonviolent drug crime.

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"I believe that the only way that I will be able to get over the enormous guilt I have felt about bringing poison to an already hurting community is by going back and contributing my time and effort in building something of value. I am 60 years old and hearing impaired. As I see it, it will be the only legacy that I will be able to leave to posterity. I do not want my grandchildren and generations to come to know me only as a drug dealer. I want them to see and know that I did everything that I could to turn my life around; that they do not have to live in shame or be ashamed of me. I am asking the court to please grant me that opportunity." -- Jerry Vega

My father is 63-years-old and has spent over 30 years in prison for a nonviolent drug offense. After so long, I believe he deserves a second chance at life. In 1991 he was 36-years-old when he was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to possess and distribute cocaine and heroin. Prior to his federal indictment he was charged for the same crime in New York state and was sentenced to 25 years to life.  The federal court judge decided to make the state and federal time run consecutive -- that means he received 55 years to life of total prison time.

That was 30 years ago. My dad has spent three decades focused on his rehabilitation and taking responsibility for how significant the poor choices he made were. He is simply not the same man who went to prison so long ago and I know that if given a second chance, he will tell his story to help prevent others from making the same mistakes.

In September 2010, the Honorable Michael A. Gary (New York Supreme Court, Kings County) resentenced him on his state court charges pursuant to New York State’s 2004 Drug Law Reform Act. In particular, Judge Gary vacated his sentence of 25 years to life and resentenced him to an effective sentence of 15 years. In doing so, Judge Gary noted his contrition, and stated:

The defendant’s prison record over the course of 22 years is encouraging. He has been cited as a mentor to other inmates, has taken many courses involving drug counseling and has worked assisting other inmates. He has completed the DOCS intensive Alcohol and Substance Abuse Treatment program, and has received numerous excellent reviews from the counselors and other inmates. . . “

My dad has been serving his sentence thinking he would die in prison.  That reality would leave most with no incentive to better himself, to help others, or to live as a model inmate. And yet, that is precisely what he has done for these many years – not because he thought that it would result in his release – but because he was honestly troubled by his own conduct, and because he wanted to reclaim a life of dignity and value.

During his time in state custody, my dad has worked to become a model inmate, highly regarded by both staff and his fellow inmates. He has actively participated in and even led programs designed to assist other inmates and their families. He pursued vocational training and educational opportunities offered through the prison. He’s earned 100 and counting certificates of merit and awards -- including for his efforts in assisting vision-impaired and hearing-impaired inmates. He’s a mentor who helped organize a “Manhood Responsibility Course” while at the Sullivan Correctional Facility.

In 2004, Jerry was moved to the Sullivan Correctional Facility. I visited more often and was able to see firsthand the positive impact that he had on other inmates, especially the younger ones. He was on the board of a program called “Manhood Responsibilities,” a program designed to mentor inmates and help them gain the skills to become better husbands, fathers and productive members of society. He also served as an instructor for the 12-week course. Jerry was instrumental in the development of the curriculum for the program. I know this because I helped to format the manual. Moreover, Jerry was on the board of Latinos Unidos, a program designed to teach Latino men not only about their culture, but also about overcoming challenges and making better decisions. In addition, Jerry was actively involved in an entrepreneurship program. All of this was in addition to the programming he participated in and the jobs he had at the facility.”  –Aida Rivera (his childhood friend)

Not only is my dad smart and kind with a huge heart, he has a great sense of humor and is a talented screenwriter too. He has always loved the performing arts since his days as a young actor. I have no doubt that if he is granted freedom he will use those talents and his experience behind bars for 30 years to educate and inspire everyone around him.

I am my father’s only child. Not having my dad physically present in my life has been a hardship but I would not change that for any other man on the face of this earth. I am truly blessed. He took every opportunity to be the best father he could under the circumstances, pushing me to dream big and follow my dreams no matter what!

At 63 years old with the support of his loving family he’s ready for a second chance at life and time with his gravely ill mother. I hope you sign my petition to ask President Obama to grant my father a second chance.