I am writing after listening to a few of your speeches. I would like to bring to your attention the fact that there are over 2.3 million people in prisons in the U.S. compared to only 71,000 in Japan. We have one in ever thirty one adults in the U.S. in jail or on supervised release.
I have heard you say that the U.S. is not a nation of torture, and we are not terrorists – – I must disagree based on the current criminal justice system. When you send a citizen to prison for 151 months with no possibility of parole for low level drug use, you are imposing cruel and unusual punishment as well as torturing that citizen, and also their families, for some petty act, which is barbaric.
One might say, “Oh, it’s just 151 months” but that is 12 years and 7 months, “months” are used because it sounds more friendly than years, but it’s still a petty offense and it’s still torture for the citizen and the families. This policy leaves families without the support of the head of the house, which in turn causes the cycle to start all over again with the children of the broken home ending up in trouble and ultimately in prison. Everyone is quick to place the responsibility on the drug user, but when is the government going to accept their part of the responsibility for all these broken homes and children who are unnecessarily fatherless for decades?
With all these broken homes and families torn apart at the hands of an overzealous government, is it any wonder why the U.S. has by far the highest incarceration rate in the world – – even higher than third-world countries, with 5% of the world’s population we house 25% of the world’s reported prisoners. I ask you: “has putting these petty offenders in prison for decades made life any safer in our communities? In another ten years, would these communities not be safer if the fathers were home to assist raising the children? What do you think these kids are doing while the mother is at work and the father is in prison? They are running the streets becoming the next generation of prisoners! The system perpetuates!! Has it made the import of drugs any less? Of course it has not!
Based on the loss of father’s income, some families are forced to turn to the very thing that cost the loved one their freedom, just to survive. The “war on drugs” which is really the “war on people” has got to change, just like the Iraq to Afghanistan, so must the policy on drugs change to helping, rather than destroying, the people and their families. It is well supported fact that locking people up with draconian sentences for petty drug offenses has not stopped, or even slowed down the flow or use of drugs in this country – – indeed, it made it even worse.
Moreover, why is the federal government prosecuting low level drug possession when the respective states already have laws for this same conduct? Is this the proper role of the federal government? Surely not. Illustratively, federal drug possession under 18 U.S.C. 841 (b) (1) (C) carries up to 20 years while in the State (Oklahoma) it has a maximum of 4 years. The state sentence would be eligible for parole while the federal sentence is not. Is this an even application of laws, fair and equitable?
In the federal system, I receive good time credits of only up to 47 days a year (congress authorized 54, but BOP has devised a scheme resulting in only 470, while in the state (Oklahoma) I could receive 44 days a month (3 days less than all year in the feds), and again, be eligible for parole. Even worse, upon completion of the excessive federal sentence, I must go out and serve yet another 3 years “supervised release.” In the state, when I complete my incarceration, I would be done – – why, pray tell, am I even in the federal system and not the state?
My case originated when another man got arrested with drug and guns by state police. He made a deal with the fed to set someone up – – that someone was me. The reward for his “cooperation” was a sentence reduction from 96 to 24 months while I serve 151 months when he was the one who got busted committing crimes.
Another area that should be of concern is the so-called criminal history sentence “enhancements” based on alleged “prior convictions” for which a person has already been punished. Illustratively, this practice took my sentence from 78months to 151 months, effectively punishing me twice for a crime I completely served my sentence for. Notably, it’s much easier to be convicted of a second offense based on the stigma of being an ex-felon with any prior conviction. Why am I being punished again for the first crime? I am serving 73 more months than otherwise applicable based on a crime I did time for, resulting in double punishment.
Thank you, for your consideration of this important matter. I trust you will take corrective measures to stop this absurd treatment of American citizens.
Ronald D. Kelly