My name is Clenesha Garland and over 15 years ago, my mother Sharanda Jones began serving a life sentence with no chance of parole as a first-time non-violent offender under crack/powder cocaine sentencing disparity laws. I was 8 years old at the time and my world as I knew it was shattered.
I am now 23-years old and I fully grasp the fact that my mother is set to die in prison for the first crime she ever committed – a non-violent drug crime.
I know that my mother committed a crime and that she has to pay for her actions. However, after over 15 years I feel she has more than paid the price for her crime. She does not deserve to come out of prison in a casket.
Life without parole is the second most severe penalty permitted by law in America. Two co-conspirators testified against my mom in exchange for lessor sentences and received 7-8 years. Her supplier, another co-conspirator who also testified against her in exchange for a lessor sentence, received 19 years. All 3 co-conspirators have been released from prison.
The United States Sentencing Commission has determined that federal sentencing guidelines under which my mother was sentenced were flawed. This determination is evidenced by two guideline adjustments in less than 5 years in the realm of crack‑cocaine federal sentencing that drastically reduce sentences for these offenses.
Being without my mother for over 15 years of my life has been extremely difficult. But the thought that she is set to spend the rest of her life in prison as a first-time non-violent offender is absolutely devastating.
Please support my mother's petition for commutation (reduction) of her sentence. All I pray for everyday is the blessing of being able to spend my life with my mother outside of prison walls.
A life sentence, assuring Sharanda will die in a federal prison for a non-violent drug offense – her first conviction felony or otherwise – is too heavy a burden. She should not have to come out of prison in a casket. Indeed, she should be given the opportunity to prove that she learned from past mistakes and given a chance to reintegrate into society as a productive, law-abiding citizen.