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Grant Clemency to Cheryl Howard serving life for a nonviolent drug offense.
It’s been over 23 years since I spent Thanksgiving with my mom. This year was no different. For most of my life, my mother has been behind bars, serving a life without parole sentence for a nonviolent drug offense. My mom’s name is Cheryl Howard and I am her only child; she has 3 grand children (2 girls ages 14 and 7 and 1 boy age 13). We have always had a close relationship. One of my last memories together was Halloween when I was the Cowardly Lion from The Wiz. My mother worked so hard on my costume and I was embarrassed by my curls I had as the lion but I remember everyone telling us how great my costume was. This was one of the only childhood moments we had together. Then my mom started abusing drugs like cocaine. It changed everything. Soon she was arrested and in 1995 convicted of possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine, and one count of conspiracy. She was given a life sentence without the possibility of parole. I don’t want to make excuses for my mom -- she made mistakes. But I also believe that with help for her addiction she could have gotten better. Instead she was sent to prison for the rest of her life and without clemency from President Obama, she will die there. President Obama has now granted clemency to over 1,000 nonviolent drug offenders like my mom. But only 68 have been women and time is running it out. My mother has accepted full responsibility for actions and has suffered enough. I'm begging President Obama to grant her clemency. While in prison she obtained her GED, completed Vocational Training and Tarrant Community College courses, (2) Pierpont College courses and creative writing courses. She has maintained employment through the Life Connections Program (LCP) which helps inmates learn life skills so that upon release she can be successful and equipped with job skills. After release she want to start a program called “Fed Up,” which stands for Federal Ex-offender’s Driven to their Unexpected, to help female ex-offenders with life coaching, counseling, and job placement. I hear the pain in her voice when she says how remorseful she is for the crimes she committed. Her voice has kept me on the right path in raising my own family. She is truly a changed person, prepared to contribute to her community and society if released. In January 2015 she had 3 aneurysms rupture and was placed on life support for 31 days. She has recovered but I worry everyday. That Cowardly Lion Halloween costume is symbolic because I’ve carried courage with me my entire life. For 23 years I’ve missed every precious moment most people have with their mothers. I can only guess what they feel like. I have three children she has never held as babies. I’ve even delayed my wedding in the hopes that she will be able to walk me down the aisle with my Aunt. Please sign my petition to ask President Obama to grant clemency to a mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, and friend who deserves a second chance. For more information regarding my mother's case and others whom deserve Justice through clemency please visit http://www.candoclemency.com/cheryl-howard http://www.candoclemency.com/