Sentenced to die in prison for a non-violent drug offense, please support law change.
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We are currently in the process of having two Senate Bills introduced to legislation in 2017, SB0072 and SB0073, in hopes of granting John Sellors parole eligibility. The bills being introduced aim to eliminate Enhancement Statute MCL333.7413 if they are passed. John Sellors is currently serving a DOUBLE LIFE SENTENCE WITHOUT PAROLE, essentially a death sentence, for a non-violent drug offense. He has an excellent prison record and has never committed a violent crime.
John has already served 17 years in prison. This double life sentence without parole was for a second offense of selling between 50-225 grams of cocaine. His second offense was for 51 grams. The reason John was given this harsh sentence is due to Enhancement Statute MCL333.7413 which was mandated by law. The judge had no discretion in this sentence. Since John’s incarceration, the sentencing judge has even written a letter of support for a commutation or a pardon for John, a clear indication that the severity of this sentence is unjust. During these 17 years John has filed for 4 commutations, sadly all were denied. If John had been sentenced under Federal guidelines as opposed to State guidelines, we firmly believe President Obama would have granted him clemency. Unfortunately our only hope of getting John released is to get the laws changed in the State of Michigan. Without this law change, John will essentially spend the rest of his life in prison.
These mandatory minimum drug laws were originally intended to keep drug kingpins off the streets. Most mandatory minimum drug laws have been repealed, and many drug kingpins’ are back on the streets while John has no chance at freedom. We feel that Enhancement Statute MCL 333.7413 is cruel and unusual punishment in its severity, and should have been included in the 2002 drug reform laws, that eliminated mandatory sentences for all the charges. The Senate Bills that are being introduced in 2017 will reflect an "amendment" to the drug reform laws that passed in 2002.
John’s sentence is reserved for the most heinous, violent criminals such as terrorists, rapists and mass murderers. John is the furthest thing from a violent criminal. In fact, we have no doubt that he would be a viable member of society if he were released. He often talks about wanting to do community service to give back. John admits full responsibility for what he did, and has deep regrets for his actions.
Somehow, through the grace of God, John has managed to stay positive and connected with his family in this overwhelming situation. He has kept an excellent prison record. He is also currently working 40 hours per week in the G. Robert Cotton Facility’s Braille program and has earned special endorsements to do high tech graphics for the text books for the blind. He has been told that if released, he will remain employed through them and will be set up to work from home. The following is a summary of some of his accomplishments during his incarceration.
Earned a certificate in Braille Translation from the National Federation of the Blind and currently works as a leading Braille Translator.
Completed the 12 step program.
Earned a Culinary Arts Certificate.
Tutored inmates in the Food Technology Program.
Served as the Host of the Staff and Visitor’s Dining Room.
Acted as the Catholic representative in the prison’s Religious Program.
Tutored fellow inmates for their GED’s.
Our Family has been on a long, tedious, and passionate journey to seek justice for John and his two sons. We have a great deal of support from family, friends, community, clergy, journalist, and legislators. We realize that John should be punished for his crime, but strongly feel the punishment does not fit the crime. The $40,000 per year it takes to house a prisoner could be much better spent elsewhere. Some of the things we have done as a family includes:
Joined and actively supported FAMM (Families Against Mandatory Minimums).
Attended meetings with CAPPS ( Citizens’ Alliance on Prisons and Public spending).
Met with and have actively supported the Humanity for Prisoners Organization who submitted his second Commutation Application.
Created a website to publicize his case.
Conducted a Town Hall meeting at St. Donald’s Parish led by our Pastor, Father Michael Donovan. Over 200 people attended and many wrote letters on John’s behalf. These letters were sent to the parole Board
The Macomb Daily and our parish paper wrote articles to publicize John’s plight.
Forwarded petitions containing 499 signatures of support, including two legislators, which were sent to the Parole Board with a previous application in 2007.
Created a family video about John that was sent to all state legislators.
Met personally with many Legislators and Senators.
Today John is a changed man. He is deeply remorseful for the choices he made many years ago that impacted not only his life, but that of his family and friends. Since being incarcerated, both John’s mother and younger brother have gone to be with Our Lord. Both of his sons are now adults, 25 and 21, and John wants so desperately to get the chance to come home and prove his love and loyalty to them as well as his entire family. Our family is very close knit and we have been, and will continue to be, a great support team for John.
In closing, we appreciate you taking the time to read this. We desperately pray that you will find it in your heart to not only sign this petition but to share it on any and all social media platforms. Thank you.
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