Clemency for Chalana McFarland
We are the family of Chalana McFarland and we are seeking support for her petition for Clemency from President Obama. Chalana, a first time non-violent offender, was sentenced in 2005 to 30 years in prison for her role as a closing attorney in a mortgage fraud scheme.
The loan officers in the case received sentences of 24 months and 5 months respectively. Various other participants, including those with prior criminal records, received up 87 months. Chalana received nearly four times that of any other participant.
The judge in her case cited the need for her case to serve as an example to other attorneys who fail in their roles as gatekeepers against fraud. McFarland's sentence at the time was the longest in the history of the United States for a closing attorney. Other attorneys, sentenced by the same judge in cases after Chalana's, have received sentences ranging from 33-54 months. Chalana has currently served over 10 years (120 months) and has exhausted all of her appeals.
Clemency is her last chance to return home to raise her daughter, now 15 years old. Her case is one in which the sentencing guidelines which are intended to provide sentences that are equitable and fair, has resulted in a sentence which is simply unjust.
Remorse is a ghost that haunts my life. It is hard to express the sorrow I feel about the choices I made that led to my incarceration. I am ashamed of my actions. Its more than just mere embarrassment or regret. It is a deep hurt that makes me wonder if I will ever feel whole again. Countless days I have laid in my bunk reliving my mistakes over and over. If I could go back in time, I would do so many things differently.
At first I laid the blame at the feet of all my co-conspirators. They duped me…they tricked me…they lied to me. Even though on many levels all of that is true, at the end of the day, I am responsible for the behavior that I chose to engage in. I, solely, am responsible for my incarceration. That fact was a bitter pill to swallow. At times, I wondered if I was worthy of redemption after all the pain and embarrassment I caused my family and the harm to my community.
A recurrent nightmare I have is that my greatest fear comes to pass and everyone in my family dies off or forgets about me. I have seen countless friends and family members fall by the wayside over the past 12 years. My parents are in their 70s and their health is failing. I have one daughter, who at the age of 16, will soon embark on her own life. If I lose my parents, will my daughter consider me a burden? Will I miss her graduations, wedding, and the birth of her children as I have all the other events in her life so far? She was three years old when I was sent to prison to begin serving a 30-year sentence as a first-time nonviolent offender. I committed mortgage fraud and I will be 62 years old when I am released from prison.
What kind of life would have when I am released as a senior citizen? I had hard choices to make about how I was going to survive incarceration. The first step was realizing that despite my fervent wishes, I cannot change the past. I decided to become the best person that I could be from that day forward. Prison strips you down to your true self. Every aspect of your individual identity is challenged. One must decide who one is and what one believes.
Over the last decade, I have gotten to know my true self and I like her. I have learned that family is the most important treasure you can ever have in your life and I am so thankful for mine. I also came to the realization that the world owes me nothing. I owe a debt to my daughter that can never be repaid because my choices left her motherless. I know she loves me and I pray that someday when she is old enough to grasp it all that she will forgive me.
When Pres. Obama’s clemency initiative was announced, I began to hope that somehow God might grant me a second chance. I celebrated with each of the ladies I knew that received clemency. I saw lives be restored and I wondered if someday I would also be granted a reprieve. All I need is another chance. I know that I will be able to move forward and be an asset to my family and community.
I humble ask for your support and continued prayers as I seek clemency.
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