Clemency for Judith Negron: a Mom serving 35 Years for First-Time, Non-Violent Offense
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Is there a right way to plead for my life? Is there such a thing as finding the right words?
My name is Judith (Judy) Negron, I am a 47-year-old mother, daughter, sister and wife. I am also a first time, non-violent, white collar offender, serving a 35-year sentence in Federal Prison for Medicare Fraud. I am pleading for clemency for my life and for a better life for my children and family. Please listen to my story and help me fulfill a promise to my children that I will return home again.
I was involved in a management company for health care services, which was initially indicted as a civil matter in 2007. After continued cooperation with the Federal government, they turned the case criminal, and in 2010, I was charged with a single count of "Conspiracy to Commit Health Care Fraud", which carried a maximum of 10 years. Initially, my other co-defendants had additional charges; but after all the dust settled, I was hit with 23 additional charges along with over a dozen other co-defendants. I could not believe what was happening, much less comprehend or even recognize what I was being charged with. But based on my ignorance and my lawyer’s advice, I went to trial. Most of the government's witnesses were my co-defendants, and because of their cooperation against me, they received lower sentences and I received one of the highest…35 years imprisonment with an additional three years of supervised release. My "draconian sentence", as my attorney put it, equates to that of terrorists, murderers, rapists, and other violent offenders. In fact, my sentence far exceeds those with similar crimes of monetary loss, making me one of the highest sentenced females in history at the time, under that offense type.
Seven years later, as I look back, I now know that part of the problem was my erroneous belief that I did not deserve to be facing any prison time. I fully take responsibility for the role I played, for not being more aware of the situation I was surround by, and not foreseeing the consequences of my actions. I cannot take back the mistakes and decisions I made, but I am doing everything in my power to make amends and bring restoration to the past; for my sake, for the sake of my family, especially my two boys.
I still remember when I would call home, my sons, who were seven and eleven at the time, would cry on the phone asking when I was coming home and tell me they missed and loved me "more than this Universe." During visits, my oldest would grab my hand in his and sit next to me leaning on my shoulder, in silence. I can only imagine how his world was turned upside down. And how my little one would shout "Come home with me!" clinging to my legs, crying, when the visit would end. Now that my boys have become young men, I think of how much of their lives I have missed (birthdays, field-trips, holidays, vacations, award ceremonies, graduations, and even doctor's visits). I pray to God that this feeling of guilt I carry for being separated from them stops haunting me. But I also count my blessings that my children and I have maintained a strong bond. Along with God’s guidance, my boys provide me the strength to keep going and desire to improve myself and help others.
During my seven years of incarceration, I continue to work hard to prove to my family, friends, society, and my custodians (BOP) that I am worthy of a second chance. As a result, I have enrolled in and completed over 125 ACE, RPP, Vocational and Leisure classes. Some are spiritually-based such as Life Training, Threshold, Rubies for Life, Women of Excellence. Others are skilled-based such as Custodial Maintenance, Public Speaking, Microsoft, Paralegal Studies. I have been involved with several rehabilitative programs such as Getting it Right, Women in the 21st Century, Alternative to Violence Project (an international non-profit organization dedicated to help others deal effectively with today's stressors), and REAP as well as YES Programs (non-profit organizations geared to help disabled individuals in the community). I have been a member of the Suicide Watch Companion Program, Discipleship Mentor Program and the Praise Dance Team. I have earned multiple letters of recommendations due to the hard work I put in and my exemplary conduct.
I have maintained employment in the Education Department for most of my incarceration, where I have had the opportunity to facilitate numerous classes in leadership, self-esteem, anger management, and effective habits to fellow inmates. Most importantly, I have tutored the Parenting Program classes and facilitate its children activities which hold a very special place in my heart. In addition, I have also helped create, as well as translate, multiple curriculums and documents for both the Education and Recreation Departments as well as the Paws for People Program and served as an interpreter for the Admissions and Orientation as well as the Chapel services. Lastly, I have had the opportunity to share my artistic passion with fellow inmates by teaching numerous art classes in the Recreation Department and completed several decorative projects and wall murals throughout multiple institutions; and I also given back to my community through donations of my art work to various local non-profit organizations.
If granted clemency, I can offer reparation, not only to my children who have suffered immeasurable consequences in this ordeal; but also, to society, by paying restitution for my actions and allowing me to become a contributing member of this society. If granted clemency, I plan to utilize this experience to bring awareness to society of the urgent need for support groups that can properly address the serious consequences that our children face as a result of the stigma that comes with being "children of incarcerated parents." Our children are profoundly affected by this separation, not only at an economic and environmental level, but most importantly, at an emotional level. I feel a personal responsibility to help our children, by assisting them in learning effective coping mechanism required to deal with these difficult issues in their lives that have been brought about as a result of our incarceration. Clemency will allow me to fulfill this commitment to our children in society, in order for those, sometimes unaddressed, and many times unrecognized, harmful emotions to not result in negative consequences that my put them at risk of becoming offenders themselves.
And while I take full personal responsibility and now understand that "deliberate ignorance" does not exempt you from the law, one has to wonder, at what point does the effectiveness of the incarceration stops being a human rehabilitation and starts becoming an inhumane debilitation? At what point is a non-violent, first time, white collar offender deemed eligible to rejoin society? Seven years a prisoner, 28 years remaining. If I am not granted clemency, I will be 76 years old upon my release, trying to reintegrate back into a society that has left me so far behind that I would have nothing to offer but the burden of my continued dependency on it. Please do not let me "rot in prison". I feel that I have so much to offer now. I want to share the knowledge I have gained in this experience with others on the outside, as I do on the inside. I want to bring awareness to others and prevent them from making the same mistakes I made.
I am at the mercy of my readers, as I plead for my life.
I pray that you see that clemency is the right thing.
I pray that these are the right words.
Please sign this petition and share with family and friends. One click from you can make a difference and help me come home to my boys.
Thank you and God Bless.
Judith (Judy) Negron
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