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

Ms. Locke had a chaotic childhood, shuttling between parents who divorced when she was three. However, not long thereafter, Mary Anne’s father became her primary custodian. Unfortunately, while at her mother’s house, Mary Anne witnessed and experienced abuse at the hands of her mother’s partners.  In her early teens, Ms. Locke began dating men who were themselves substance abusers and physically violent.  She started drinking at age 14 and using meth at age 17.  Demonstrating her fortitude, however, she began an almost 10-year drug-free period as soon as she learned she was pregnant with her first child at age 18.  Her relapse at age 28 was triggered by tumult in her personal life, as well as health problems for which she was prescribed amphetamines.  It was around this time that she became involved with the head of the meth conspiracy charged in her federal case.


Mary Anne’s Offense

 Mary Anne’s offense was driven by her own addiction to methamphetamine.  She became involved with a leader in a meth distribution scheme, who gave her an unlimited supply of meth, and in return, embroiled her in a supportive capacity in his drug distribution activities.  Pregnant with her second child in 2007, Ms. Locke disavowed the drug lifestyle.  The indictment in her federal case was handed down in 2008, when she was pregnant with her third child, after two years of sobriety and the establishment of a loving relationship with her then husband.  She cooperated fully upon arrest, at considerable risk to herself.


Mary Anne’s Sentence 

Mary Anne’s judge sentenced her to 234 months (19.5 years), and ordered her to surrender six weeks after the birth of her third child by C-section.  Although nationally, statistics indicate that defendants with her characteristics would receive an almost 50% reduction of their applicable guideline, the judge gave her just a 20% reduction.  But it’s important to emphasize that this sentence is not reflective of Mary Anne’s role in the offense.  Mary Anne was not the king pin or organizer.  She did not get an organizing role in the offense.  She never engaged in or threatened any violence.  She played a supportive role to fund her addiction.  She is precisely the kind of low-level player deserving of leniency and not mandatory minimum sentences. 

Rather, her sentence appears to have been driven by the particular sentencing philosophy of her judge. This judge has been critiqued as one of the harshest in the country.  In fact, she is the only sitting judge to have been subject to a commutation by President Trump. Moreover, today, not only would another judge give Mary Anne an almost 50% reduction of her applicable guideline; Mary Anne’s guideline would be substantially lower.  Changes in prosecutorial practices, changes in the guidelines themselves, and changes wrought by legislative policy groups such as the American Legal Exchange Council would put her guideline at a likely 86 to 108 months.  With a 46.3% reduction (the current likely reduction in cases like hers), her potential sentence at 58 to 72 months.  Needless to say, Mary Anne has served the top end of that guideline. 


Mary Anne’s Prison Record 

Ms. Locke has been an exemplary prisoner. She has been discipline-free while incarcerated. In addition, she has worked and studied consistently throughout her sentence, completing her final year in 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.


Mary Anne’s Re-Entry Plan 

Mary Anne has a concrete and realizable release plan.  She will live in Iowa where her family resides, resume a custodial role with her two minor children, and replenish the strong relationships she had with her large network of friends and family in the community.  They have supported her on a daily basis by phone, email and letter and are eager to have her home and help her build a productive life as a mother, daughter, friend and partner. 


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