Attorney General Jeff Sessions has just ordered federal prosecutors to seek the harshest punishments possible, including mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders.
In 2004, I was given a 55-year mandatory minimum sentence as a first-time marijuana offender — virtually a sentence to die in prison. I had sold marijuana three times to an informant who stated that I had a firearm in my possession.
I never used or even showed the firearm, but this allowed prosecutors to charge me with three counts of using a firearm in the course of a drug trafficking offense, that carried a mandatory minimum of five years for the first offense and 25 years for each of the other two offenses.
At my sentencing, even the judge disagreed with the sentence. He called it “unjust, cruel, and even irrational,” and pointed out that shorter federal sentences have been given to violent criminals such as murderers, child rapists, and even terrorists.
I was only 24 years old when I was sentenced. While imprisoned for 13 years, I missed my children growing up and the fruits of a promising music career. Yet, no problem was solved. This waste of human life must end.
I’m only free because bipartisan lawmakers and advocates, and even the man who prosecuted me, came together to say that my sentence was wrong. My release was part of a changing attitude toward nonviolent drug offenders, with both Republicans and Democrats working together to make sentences fairer. But now, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is working to undo this progress.
Sessions decision to order prosecutors to seek the longest sentences possible reverses a directive from former Attorney General Eric Holder that instructed prosecutors to use their discretion and avoid long sentences for low-level drug offenders.
Please sign my petition asking Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reconsider his push for mandatory minimum sentences.