Melvin Hollowel: If you have someone who has
been convicted of a crack cocaine offense and someone who is similarly convicted of
a powder cocaine offense, the one who is being convicted of powder cocaine gets the benefit
of 100 to 1, 100 to 1, difference in terms of a lighter sentence.
Michael Short: I was sentenced to 19 years and 7 months and I served 15 years and 8 months
of that sentence for distributing 63 grams of crack cocaine, which is equivalent to $2,500.
Sheila J.: The weight of about two sugar cubes gets you the same five year mandatory minimum
penalty as trafficking 500 grams of the powder form of cocaine, which is equivalent to about
a one pound bag of sugar. For the life of me I have not understood that.
Dorothy Gaines: I had more time on my case than the kingpin had. Never saw drugs, never
sold drugs, I had a clean cut record. I left a 9-year-old son and an 11-year-old daughter
and a 19-year-old daughter that was in college. Natasha came out of college to keep my kids
from going to a foster home. December 8th my daughter graduated with her Bachelor’s
Degree in Science. Jesselyn M.: Dorothy’s story is what we call
the girlfriend story. We call it the girlfriend problem because it’s how… Really what that
means is how people, particularly girlfriends, a lot of times women get tangentially involved
with husbands or boyfriends. They get swept up in these drug conspiracy laws and end up
doing long, long years, long mandatory minimum years, and then oftentimes their boyfriends
or husbands get off or get very light sentences. Sheila J.: Use of drugs, period, is a rehabilitative
condition. The use of crack cocaine is sad in our lives to the extent of addiction, but
it is a rehabilitative condition. People’s actions under the influence of such does not
characterize who they are. They want to get out.
Michael Short: I’m human. I made a mistake and it didn’t take me 15 years to understand
it, that what I did was wrong. Christopher S.: You know government doesn’t
do everything that’s right. We all know that, but sometimes it does some things that are
just outrageous. The disparity of 1 to 100, a sentence of 19 years or 24 years or 19 years
again is truly outrageous. Bobby Scott: There are no persuasive scientific
or policy reasons why crack and powder cocaine should be treated different from law enforcement
or sentencing purposes. Pharmacologically they are simply different forms of the same
drug and no significant difference is associated in violence. Whatever violence differential
there may be would be much better treated in an individual case; this person was violent
and therefore ought to get an enhancement, that person was not violent and therefore
should not get an enhancement rather than trying to figure out what form of the substance
someone was consuming. Sheila J.: We have allowed this disparity
in crack cocaine to just sit along the wayside. Christopher S.: When we spend more money to
have people in jail than send them to universities we’ve got a long ways to go.
Dorothy Gaines: If God can give us a chance, why can’t you all.
Sheila J.: Who will come with me. Who will come with you. Who will come with the families
to March and to advocate for a change that will save lives. God bless you. God bless
the United States of America.