Criminal Justice Reform is Needed to Prevent Tragedies Like This One From Happening Again

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Hello. My name is Michael Modisett. I was recently sentenced to life without parole for a low-level, nonviolent drug offense which I am innocent of. Like most people in my situation I was given two options: plead guilty and serve time  in jail or take your changes and fight in trial. My plea offer was a minimum of 20 years in prison. I am one of the 3% of Americans who chose to fight it in trial. The other 97% plead guilty, many to sentences they did not commit, in fear that they would lose in trial. For many, taking their chances and defending their innocence was just too risky.

I was found guilty not by a jury of my peers; not with adequate representation from my lawyer. I have spent the last 3 years in isolation at the Fargo Cass County jail. While being held in detention I was arbitrarily subjected to 24 hr locked down, isolated from all human contact with the minimum exposure. I was not allowed radio, television or phone privileges. This was not due to something I had done, but rather because the government felt they could do it since there was no one to hold them accountable. Human rights commission in the world courts recognize more than 15 days in isolation as torture. By those standards I was tortured for over 4 months when I chose to exercise my right to a fair trial. My torture only ended once a judge intervened. No matter how a person feels about drugs or people who are incarcerated we are still human beings and deserve to be treated with dignity.    

The foundation of this case was built with lies upon more lies. It started with a witness saying she purchased drugs from me at the end of 2011 or beginning of 2012 and continued until the end of 2013. At trial this was proven to be false because I had been previously incarcerated from 09 till November 6th 2012. When this was uncovered, the witnesses were allowed to change their stories to fit the Prosecution's new timeline. Without ever being in possession or caught on wiretap or surveillance a jury found me guilty based on the word of these witnesses who were drug addicts, some even homeless. The same witnesses who were said to have been making millions of dollars. They labeled me the King Pen. I am not a millionaire, nor do I have any idea of what it means to be a one.

Not only was I subjected to a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years, I was now dealing with an 851 enhancement on my sentence. For those who do not know, an 851 is the Federal Government way 3 strikes you're out rule. It is a tool prosecutors use to intimidate defendants into pleading guilty. If you do not plead when they want they apply a 851 enhancement and it strips the judge of his duties and leaves the Prosecutor the sole determiner of a person’s life. My charge only carried a statue of 10 years. But with the 851, the Prosecutor could do as he pleased. He wanted my life and that’s all there is to it. It was his dirty little trick. It is the reason that less that 3 percent of federal defendants go to trial and innocent people plead guilty. A basic human right of a democratic government is the right to a fair trial. If the government has the right to take your life when you exercise your right to a trial, do you really have that right at all???

My upbringing was typical of many inner city youth growing up in the nineties. It is what I would call the aftershock of the crack epidemic. We were a generation who raised themselves with little guidance. Like most who came from where I came from, I looked up to the drug dealers and 'gangstas' in my hood because that's who’s presence was felt. I had never met a professional black male until i was in my 20s. There was never a hand extended to my generation. I am the "Super Predator" that society was warned about; who’s backs a lot of politicians made their careers on by placing obstacles in our already bumpy road of life. That is not to say that I disregard my complicity in the situation. I made bad choices. I was influenced by my society.

As a “Super Predator” it was easy for the government to get away with using the words “guy from the city who came up here [North Dakota] to sell drugs and corrupt their [the people in the Jury who were not my peers] way of life”.  The jury felt it was their duty to punish this “guy from the city”. They didn't care about the facts or that on many occasions the witnesses were severely impeached and caught in multiple lies. To add fuel to the fire, the government was allowed to intimidate my only witnesses from testifying. This along with other acts of misconduct gained them a conviction. Wrongful, but it was a conviction… Against Me. I have done a lot of things in my life but this is not one. I don't deserve this sentence nor do I believe anybody does.

Too many young African American males are caught up in this ever-lasting circle of being caught in the system. Once you are labeled a felon you become property of the Government. Who will be there to raise our children? I have four children (Makayia is 9, Nylema 6 , Gabrielle 3, and Michael 2 years old). My children are my life; my light at the end of the tunnel. They are the reason I will not give up on my freedom. I must fight for what is right. For myself and for the many other men in my situation.

I’m asking for your support by way of signing this petition if you feel life without parole is unfair and unjust for a non violent drug a offense. Thank u for ur support.....



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