CRIMINAL JUSTICE

20 Clemency Recipients with Change.org Petitions

Jon Perri
Dec 21, 2016
 

Yesterday, President Obama granted clemency to 231 people — the most in a single day in history — and he has now granted more commutations than the last 11 presidents combined. At least 20 of those clemency recipients have had petitions on Change.org, often started by family members who are using our platform to tell their stories and find hundreds or even thousands of supporters. There are millions of signatures on these petitions, making clemency for nonviolent drug offenders one of the most popular issues ever on the platform.

Here are some petitions for those given a second chance by President Obama. Combined, there are more than 1.5 million signatures on these petitions.

Timothy Tyler 423,306 signatures. Tim was a young Grateful Dead fan when he received a life sentence without the possibility of parole for selling LSD to an informant. This mandatory life sentence was triggered, in part, by the weight of paper the LSD was on, which prosecutors were able to claim was drug itself. By the time he was granted clemency, Tim had spent nearly 25 years, more than half of his life, behind bars. His story touched many people and with over 400,000 supporters, his clemency petition is the biggest ever on Change.org. Read my interview with Tim here.

Sharanda Jones 279,538 signatures Sharanda was granted clemency in December 2015 after spending 17 years in prison for a first-time offense. Her daughter launched a petition in 2014 and found nearly 300,000 supporters who, after hearing she would be released, raised over $25,000 to help her start her new life. Sharanda recently became a grandmother and visited our office in March. Learn more about her story by watching this short video: 

Josephine Ledesma 160,568 signatures Josephine is now free after serving nearly 25 years of a life sentence for her first offense — agreeing to give someone an envelope of money who was going to transport drugs. Her Change.org petition was started by her daughter Lizette, one of her three children who grew up without her. After hearing she received clemency, Josephine’s supporters raised $8,000 to help with her transition out of prison.

Ricky Minor 154,465 signatures After nearly 16 years in prison, Ricky Minor’s life sentence for a nonviolent drug offense was commuted on October 6. When sentenced, his judge opposed the mandatory minimum, saying, “The sentence…far exceeds whatever punishment would be appropriate… If I had any discretion at all, I would not impose a life sentence.” Ricky’s daughter Heather started the petition for him and now that her dad has a release date, she’s launched a fundraiser to help him start over once released.

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Cheryl Howard 96,612 signatures On December 20, 2016, Cheryl Howard was granted clemency after serving 23 years of a life sentence. While in prison, Cheryl obtained her GED and focused on rehabilitation. Her daughter, Lavithia, came to the Change.org office in November for a discussion about clemency and started her petition that day. Her powerful story about growing up with a mom behind bars inspired nearly 100,000 people to sign.

Aaron Glasscock 94,092 signatures Aaron was given a 30 year sentence for driving a truck that he did not know contained over $900,000 in a false compartment that was intended to be used in a drug deal. He served 18 years before being granted clemency on December 20, 2016.

Dicky Joe Jackson 85,055 signatures Dicky Joe was known as the “Breaking Bad” truck driver because when he couldn’t afford the $250,000 life saving bone-marrow transplant for his two-year-old son, he started carrying drugs in his truck to earn the money. He saved his son, but was arrested and given a life sentence. He served over 20 years and his sentence was commuted on August 3, 2016.

Michael Holmes 76,062 signatures Michael received a mandatory life sentence for selling crack cocaine at 25-years-old — a sentence his judge disagreed with but had no choice to give. He was granted clemency on December 20, 2016. The Change.org petition for Michael was started by Jason Hernandez, who was on of the codefendents in Michael’s case and received clemency in 2013.

Danielle Metz 60,956 signatures. Danielle’s life sentence has long been used to highlight the unfairness of mandatory minimum sentences. Convicted of conspiracy, she played a minor role in a crack cocaine distribution case but conspiracy holds each participant responsible for the actions of other co-conspirators, including the ring leader. She received clemency after 23 years in prison and to help her start over, her Change.org supporters raised $7,000. Her story was recently featured in VICE.

Darrell Hayden 42,565 signatures A Vietnam Veteran serving a life sentence for marijuana, Darrell was granted clemency on March 31, 2015 after 16 years in prison. His niece Erin started the petition on Change.org to support him.

Minnie Pearl Thomas 39,016 The grandmother of Demaryius Thomas, a wide receiver for the Denver Broncos, was granted clemency on August 3, 2016 after serving 16 years of a life sentence. The petition supporting her was started by her daughter (and Demaryius’ mother) who was also granted clemency in 2014 for her involvement in the same case.

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Corey Jacobs 16,569 signatures Corey was in his early twenties when he was given a life sentence. He served over 16 years before receiving clemency on December 19, 2016. During his incarceration, he earned over 100 certificates, including completing education courses and three residential programs.

Alexander Contreas 5,898 signatures Alex received a mandatory 40 year sentence at 19-years-old. His judge recommended 10 years but was forced to give 40 because Alex possessed a gun during the drug offense. His judge described that day as “one of the hardest in my career,” and urged President Obama to reduce “the most disproportionate sentence I ever pronounced.” Alex served 15 years. 

Donna Sue McDaniel 2,723 signatures Donna Sue is the sister of Dicky Joe Jackson, who you read about above. Sentenced in the same case, her sentence was commuted on November 22, after serving 20 years of a 30 year sentence.

Robert Wallace 643 signatures Robert received a 22 year sentence for conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance and served 13 years before receiving clemency in November.  He is a father and grandfather and his Change.org petition was started by a lifelong friend. 


Jason Hernandez 520 signatures Jason was given a life sentence for his first offense and after 17 years in prison, became the first Latino to be granted clemency by President Obama. At an event we hosted in Change.org’s Washington, D.C. office, Jason explained what it meant to have his brother start a Change.org petition for him. 

Charceil Kellam 258 signatures. Charceil was given life without parole for conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute cocaine base. Her judge disagreed with the mandatory sentence saying “To me, it’s over the top. I know it’s more than I would have sentenced you to if I had been left to my own discretion and devices.” She received clemency on August 3 after serving 9 years.

Clinton Matthews 255 signatures Regarding the mandatory life sentence he was forced to hand down, Clinton’s judge stated, “I would not have imposed a life sentence on the defendant, had the sentencing not been mandated by the guidelines.” He served 23 years before having his sentence commuted on December 20, 2016.

Antonio Lopez 234 supporters Antonio served 17 years of a 30 year sentence for conspiracy, an unlikely sentence under today’s laws. His fiancé started the Change.org petition for him and even though it didn’t have many signatures, his supporters still raised over $1,400 to help him with his transition out of prison. 

Gracie Ann Walker 206 signatures Gracie Ann served 10 years of her 24-year sentence for a nonviolent drug conspiracy charge. She was a single mother when arrested and, like many conspiracy cases, no drugs where found in her possession. Now 58-years-old, she spent her time in prison focused on her education, completing 100 classes and pursuing a career as a horticulture technician. 

President Obama has done incredible and life changing work with clemency. It will undoubtably be a major piece of the legacy he leaves. Still, there are many more people seeking clemency before he leaves office, and it is all but certain that Donald Trump will halt this progress. Please visit the CAN-DO Foundation’s movement page where you’ll find more stories to read and petitions to sign.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"I'm just trying to make a way out of no way, for my people" -Modejeska Monteith Simpkins

 

AFRICAN AMERICA IS AT WAR

THERE IS A RACE WAR ON AFRICAN AMERICA

THERE IS A RACE WAR ON AFRICAN AMERICANS

THERE IS A RACE WAR ON BLACK PEOPLE IN AMERICA

AMERICA'S RACISTS HAVE INFILTRATED AMERICAN POLICE FORCES TO WAGE A RACE WAR AGAINST BLACK PEOPLE IN AMERICA

THE BLACK RACE IS AT WAR

FIRST WORLD WAR:  THE APPROXIMATELY 6,000 YEAR WORLD WAR ON AFRICA AND THE BLACK RACE

Original Post

Charles is #12 on the CAN-DO Top 25 Men who Deserve Clemency
Sign and share Charles’s Change petition seeking support for clemency:

charles-scott_fullName: Charles Scott
DOB: May 7,1975
Race: African American
Marital Status: Single
Age: 41 years of age
Children: 1 daughter
Grandchildren: 1 grandson
State raised: Indiana
State charged: Indiana
Will release: Indianapolis, Indiana
Charge: Conspiracy to interfere with commerce and 924 (c) stacking
Sentence: 51 years
Served to date: over 18 years
Started Sentence: September of 1998
Priors: 1 prior juvenile conviction
Prison conduct: clear of any infractions for almost 13 years
Clemency status: filed direct and it is still pending
Supporters:  Family, friends, staff here at the prison, CAN-DO Foundation
Institution: I am housed in FCI Terre Haute

Charles with girlfriend, Dorian and her two daughters

Charles with girlfriend, Dorian and her two daughters

Accomplishments: Apprenticeship in residential and commercial house cleaning, college credits and vocational trades in ComputerTech educ., Building Trades, Mentoring in Mental health, and Theology Proper, I took and completed courses, Health awareness, Spanish, advanced Spanish, ceramics, refereeing, health education. chess, parenting, trauma therapy, victim impact, creative writing, Re-entry programming,… and many more

According to Charles: 

At 20 years old I made some bad choices. I wasn’t always the beacon of light. I like to look at each of us as a seed, cause we are figuratively and literally. Sometimes seeds are nurtured and cultivated and placed in environments that’s conducive to their growth, and then sometimes there are those seeds which are tossed and left in areas that are not conducive to healthy growth, and although they grow, the light isn’t from the sun so they are not able to produce strong and solid roots. The soil is often toxic, so when the storms of life come blowing through in the form of criminal thinking, self-pride, egos, poverty, etc., the weak are tossed and carried and end up in places like prison, and sometimes, even the grave.

charles-kidsI was one of those seeds. My roots weren’t strong and when the storms of life came I couldn’t hold on. It happens.  Still, when one is tossed into places where you run into other seeds whom have been nurtured and cultivated, they can lead and direct you to good soil and real light from the sun where the rays are education, vocational trades, anger management, business skill, computer tech. education, mentoring programs, etc. and now you start growing stronger and stronger roots, and now the winds and storms of life can’t move you, because your deeply rooted and on solid ground.

This was a process, just like every fruit that grows to be that bright, desirable, and fulfilling thing that we love, it had to go through some changes, some stages, some difficulties. It wouldn’t be what it was if we just threw it away, or left it unnoticed, treated as if it was insignificant, or unimportant. Life places us all in some difficult situations and how we choose to deal with it is up to us. Sometimes we get so caught up on who is a success or failures that we miss the guy who were on the road to failure but had an ah-ha moment and found a way to turn it all around, and live to tell about it. Those are the important guys. Those are guys who know there is hope in every situation.

Charles with family members

Charles with family members

I spend so many days in here constantly doing the right thing now, not because I have an ulterior motive or any kind of incentive such as a year off like RDAP or a time cut like the 2 point reduction, but because that’s the change I want to see in the world today. It breaks my heart to see all those killings in Chicago, or how young these guys are coming in here daily.  I have a grandson I want to influence and a daughter that needs my help. I don’t just do good in prison. I teach good in prison, and that’s my desire. I teach classes, mentor, and make sure others stay out of trouble. Anybody can come to jail and stay out of trouble, but how many come in and make sure others stay out of trouble, give others something to do to be constructive and find purpose? That’s what we need out there, not people that will merely get out and forget where they came from, but those that can help keep trouble down and help others stay out of trouble, that’s being my brother’s keeper. This is what I want and that’s why I pray for clemency.  Thank you!!!!

 
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18 U.S. Code § 1951 - Interference with commerce by threats or violence

(a)
Whoever in any way or degree obstructs, delays, or affects commerce or the movement of any article or commodity in commerce, by robbery or extortion or attempts or conspires so to do, or commits or threatens physical violence to any person or property in furtherance of a plan or purpose to do anything in violation of this section shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both.
(b)As used in this section—
(1)
The term “robbery” means the unlawful taking or obtaining of personal property from the person or in the presence of another, against his will, by means of actual or threatened force, or violence, or fear of injury, immediate or future, to his person or property, or property in his custody or possession, or the person or property of a relative or member of his family or of anyone in his company at the time of the taking or obtaining.
(2)
The term “extortion” means the obtaining of property from another, with his consent, induced by wrongful use of actual or threatened force, violence, or fear, or under color of official right.
(3)
The term “commerce” means commerce within the District of Columbia, or any Territory or Possession of the United States; all commerce between any point in a State, Territory, Possession, or the District of Columbia and any point outside thereof; all commerce between points within the same State through any place outside such State; and all other commerce over which the United States has jurisdiction.
(c)
This section shall not be construed to repeal, modify or affect section 17 of Title 15, sections 52, 101–115, 151–166 of Title 29 or sections 151–188 of Title 45.
(June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 793; Pub. L. 103–322, title XXXIII, § 330016(1)(L), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2147.)
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What is the federal Hobbs Act?
The Hobbs Act prohibits actual or attempted robbery or extortion affecting interstate or foreign commerce "in any way or degree." Section 1951 also proscribes conspiracy to commit robbery or extortion without reference to the conspiracy statute at 18 U.S.C. § 371.
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Gun Mandatory Minimum Sentences

95
 

While guns should not be in the hands of violent offenders, current federal mandatory minimum sentences for gun possession crimes are broadly written and sometimes produce absurd and unintended results, treating nonviolent gun owners as if they had committed heinous crimes.

The Problem: Federal law requires lengthy 5-, 7-, 10-, and 30-year mandatory minimum sentences for possessing, brandishing, or discharging a gun in the course of a drug trafficking crime or a crime of violence (18 U.S.C. § 924(c)). There are also mandatory minimum sentences of 25 years for each subsequent conviction. The law requires that these mandatory prison terms be served back-to-back (i.e., consecutively, not concurrently) with each other and with any other punishment the person receives for the underlying offense. This is known as “stacking,” and it can result in absurdly lengthy sentences (see the story of Weldon Angelos below, a nonviolent, small-time pot seller serving a 55-year mandatory minimum sentence).The § 924(c) law is also often applied to nonviolent gun owners who do not actually harm or injure anyone. Additionally, the law applies even to legally purchased and registered guns and rifles found in the person’s home, even if the guns were not present or used during the actual offense. All too often, a nonviolent or addicted drug offender selling drugs in their home can find themselves serving an extra five years in prison just because they also had a gun in the home — even if the gun was never used during a drug sale.

The Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA, 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)) is another federal gun law that requires a 15-year mandatory minimum sentence for anyone who possesses a gun or ammunition and also has three prior convictions for drug trafficking or violent felonies. The mandatory minimum applies even if the prior convictions are very old, nonviolent, minor, resulted from a drug addiction, or resulted in no prison time. Currently, there is no safety valve for any federal gun crimes.

Solutions:

  1. Create a safety valve that allows judges to sentence below the mandatory minimum if doing so will not endanger the public.
  2. Fix the “stacking” problem: create a safety valve that allows the judge to make 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) sentences run concurrently, rather than consecutively.
  3. Fix the “stacking” problem: re-write 18 U.S.C. § 924 so that the 25-year mandatory minimum sentences for subsequent convictions only apply when the person is a “true recidivist” – a person whose prior convictions under § 924 are already final (i.e., the person served a sentence for a prior § 924 violation, and then committed another § 924 offense later on).
  4. Re-write 18 U.S.C. § 924 to reduce the length of the 25-year mandatory minimum sentences for subsequent convictions (e.g., to 10 years or 15 years).

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