Support Clemency for Mary Anne Locke, a Non-Violent Mother of Three
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Mary Anne Locke is a tragic casualty of our mass incarceration complex. A loving mother, a low-level and non-violent offender, and a resilient survivor of childhood and relationship abuse, she never deserved the sentence she got - and even less in light of her compelling record of hard work and dedication while in prison. If anyone has earned a reduction in her sentence, whether through clemency or congressional action, Mary Anne has done so. Most of all, Mary Anne deserves your support.
On June 30, 2009, thirty-one year-old Mary Anne Locke, pregnant with her third child, was sentenced to 19.5 years in the Northern District of Iowa for methamphetamine distribution. She took full responsibility for her crime by pleading guilty. She was a minor participant in the drug scheme - she was not (and was not deemed) a manager or organizer in the offense, and her role was entirely non-violent. She has no history of violence. Apart from two days in jail at age 18, she had never spent any time in custody prior to surrendering to serve this sentence. Her involvement in the case was driven primarily by her own debilitating meth addiction. She fully cooperated upon arrest – in fact, at great risk to herself – and the government filed a motion requesting a lower sentence based on her cooperation. Most defendants across the nation in her circumstances would have received less than ten years in custody. Ms. Locke’s judge, however, sentenced her to 234 months. This is the same judge who has been called out by an Eighth Circuit judge as one of the harshest sentencing judges in the nation, and the only sitting federal judge whose sentencing has been subject to commutation by President Trump. Ms. Locke surrendered to serve her sentence on September 10, 2009, six weeks after her baby was born by Caesarean section.
Mary Anne’s Background
Mary Anne had a difficult childhood, shuttling between parents who divorced when she was three. However, not long thereafter, Mary Anne’s father became her primary custodian. The dislocation of her youth took its toll. In her early teens, she began dating men who abused drugs and abused her. She started drinking at age 14 and using meth at age 17. She became pregnant at 18.
That’s when Mary Anne showed what she was made of. She renounced drugs and devoted herself to her new child. For 10 years, she was a wonderful and caring mother. She had put the trauma of her youth behind her.
Mary Anne’s Offense
Things took a bad turn when she was 28, however. A relationship break-up, coupled with an addiction to amphetamines following a medical diagnosis, caused her life to spin out of control. She became involved with the leader of a methamphetamine distribution scheme. He supplied her with meth, and in return, asked her to take on some ministerial tasks for him in his operation. Her role in his criminal conduct was always supportive, and driven by her own personal addiction to meth at that time.
But once again, Mary Anne showed her ability to overcome the adversities of her situation and environment.
She formed a new relationship with a wonderful and loving partner. Pregnant with her second child in 2007, she renounced drugs for good. She married and became pregnant with her third child. Life couldn’t have been better for her. Then, the crushing blow of the indictment in the federal case, just as everything was back on track.
Mary Anne’s Sentence
Mary Anne cooperated fully with the federal authorities after arrest, and accepted full responsibility for her conduct. She threw herself at the mercy of the court at sentencing. She and her family thought she might be sentenced to 5 to 7 years. She had just been a minor participant in the offense. Even the government never argued that she was a manager, organizer or kingpin. She had never engaged in or threatened any violence. She was the classic low-level offender -- participating in a drug crime to fund their own addiction. Nationally, people facing the kind of sentencing guidelines applicable to her case would get at least a 50% reduction (and today, they would face a considerably lower guideline because of various changes to sentencing laws and practices). Mary Anne and her family hoped for an even bigger reduction. But, at sentencing, their hopes were dashed. Mary Anne’s judge gave her just a 20% reduction from her guideline. The sentence was a crushing 234 months (19.5 years). And as if that wasn’t bad enough, the judge ordered Mary Anne to surrender to prison six weeks after her third baby was born by scheduled C-Section. It bears noting that this judge has been criticized by an Eighth Circuit judge as one of the toughest sentencing judges in the nation.
Mary Anne’s Prison Record
Mary Anne is a model prisoner. She has never once been disciplined (no mean feat). She has participated in every programming, vocational and educational opportunity on offer at her prison. She completed a three-year college program in office administration. She has also received outstanding work evaluations. She currently works outside the prison gate in a warehouse, where she has handled a range of duties, including forklift operation, inventory control, and organizing shipping and receiving. She has remained entirely drug-free. Her children visit her as often as is possible and she is extremely close to them. They all pray for the day when they can have her home with them.
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