- United States Pardon Attorney, and President Barack ObamaOffice of the Pardon Attorney
Commute Tadd's sentence to TIME SERVED.
In a historic ruling, the Supreme Court declared in Graham v. Florida: “The Constitution prohibits the imposition of a life sentence on a juvenile offender who did not commit homicide.” Yet, Tadd Vassell was sentenced to die in prison for a non-violent drug crime that occurred when he was 17 and 18 years old. Recently President Obama commuted the sentences of 46 non-violent drug offenders and stated, “These men and women were not hardened criminals, but the overwhelming majority had been sentenced to at least 20 years,” he said. “I believe that at its heart, America is a nation of second chances. And I believe these folks deserve their second chance.”
Tadd deserves his second chance.
- Office of the Pardon Attorney
United States Pardon Attorney, and President Barack Obama
I just signed the following petition addressed to: United States Pardon Attorney, and President Barak Obama.
Commute Tadd's sentence to TIME SERVED.
In a historic ruling, the Supreme Court declared in Graham v. Florida: “The Constitution prohibits the imposition of a life sentence on a juvenile offender who did not commit homicide.” Yet, Tadd Vassell was sentenced to die in prison for a non-violent drug crime that occurred when he was 17 and 18 years old.
My name is Tadd Vassell and I have been incarcerated in the Federal Prison system for 16 years. I was arrested at only 18 years of age and later sentenced to LIFE in prison for a non-violent drug crime. While there were 11 other codefendants involved with significantly more culpability for this crime, I am the only one serving LIFE in prison. I am writing to urge you to support my petition for release.
When I was an impressionable and immature 16 year old, the drug dealers in my South Bronx neighborhood lured me in and took me under their wings. I turned to the streets where I took on a life of crime in drug dealing. When arrested, I was the only one who exercised my right to a trial. In 1997 the law required a mandatory life sentence. I was the youngest and the least culpable of the 12 co-defendants who were all 5-15 years my senior. All of my co-defendants, including the known ring leaders, received 25 years or less in prison terms.
My mandatory life sentence is fundamentally unfair. Non-violent adolescents should not be permanently banished from our society for a first-time drug offense. In a historic ruling last year, the Supreme Court declared in Graham v. Florida: “The Constitution prohibits the imposition of a life sentence on a juvenile offender who did not commit homicide.” Less than one month after the Supreme Court’s Graham decision, on August 3, 2010, President Obama signed the Fair Sentencing Act, which was designed to reduce harsh federal drug sentences. Nonetheless, I still have no recourse to challenge my sentence to die in prison.
Permanent banishment is not the answer for nonviolent adolescent first offenders. I am the face of a flawed “War on Drugs” and the excessively harsh juvenile sentencing practices that were a collateral consequence of that war. I am also the face of maturity and rehabilitation. It costs the federal government $28, 800 per year to keep me in prison. Taxpayers will have spent millions of dollars to keep a juvenile, nonviolent first offender locked up. My case boils down to a single, fundamental question: Should a 18-year-old kid be permanently banished from society for a first-time, nonviolent drug offense?
While I accept responsibility for my actions 20 years ago, I am seeking freedom on the basis of the man I am today. Throughout my years of incarceration, I have matured and changed my life. I have taken advantage of every program and educational opportunity offered. Now, I can proudly say I am helping to change other’s lives by teaching courses on self-development, and ironically, life skills for re-entry to other men preparing to leave prison. Finally, I was hand selected to participate in the Inside Out program in collaboration with West Virginia University, in an effort to improve prison conditions.
Justice has clearly already been served. I am seeking another chance at life as a free man, so that I may have the privilege of taking an active role in the lives of other young people to deter them from heading down the path I took; to be united with my family; and to pursue my goals and dreams. Please sign this petition if you believe justice has been served and to request that my life sentence be commuted to time served!
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