Clemency For Shanita McKnight Sentenced to 20 years.

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My cousin Shanita McKnight is serving 20 years in prison for a first time non-violent drug charge. She was indicted with a co-defendant for conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine. According to the law conspiracy holds one liable for the total amount of drugs involved in the case. It does not matter if your role was exceedingly small.

Due to public outcry and bi-partisan support Congress has provided relief for people who are sentenced too harshly in drug cases. However, this will not benefit Shanita because she was held liable for the entire scope of drug conspiracy and the actions of the entire network of people. If she were sentenced under current guidelines she would possibly already be home with her children.

The 25 people that testified against her in exchange for a plea deal are no longer behind bars. Moreover, all of them had several prior drug convictions and received significantly less time than Shanita. 

I am not making excuses for Shanita. However, she is not the same person that entered prison ten years ago. She has accepted full responsibility for her actions, and she is sincerely sorry for the pain that she has caused her children, family and community.  Shanita has been aggressive with rehabilitation-taking full advantage of re-entry courses that will help ensure that she is an asset to her community upon her release from Federal Prison.

Her children were very young when she went away and she realizes that she will face challenges when she is reunited with them. Therefore, she has been proactive in completing many parenting classes that address life with teen-aged children after re-entry.  In addition, she has maintained an exemplary record while in federal custody and because of that has recently been transferred to a minimum security federal prison camp.

If given a second chance Shanita will succeed. She attends weekly church services and will continue to do so after she is released.  She has a very strong support network that includes members of her home church and a host of dedicated family and friends.

Please join me as I ask President Trump to have mercy and grant my cousin a second chance to mother her children and make amends to her community. Thank you for your support. 

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