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This edition of The Razor Wire is available as a full size, full color, fully printable Adobe Acrobat PDF file.


Crishone Johnson

20 Years for Cocaine Conspiracy

The United States of America imprisons its citizens at rates three to ten times higher than other democratic societies. The sentencing laws are getting tougher and tougher. The prisons are crowded, dangerous, and offer only limited medical treatment. There is no authentic rehabilitation in this system. The prisons of the new millennium are set up for citizens to stay incarcerated for a very long time. The federal system is stopping mothers from raising their children. We need to stop relying on incarceration and give prisoners a second chance, and an education.

Thousands of people are incarcerated illegally, and I am one of them. My name is Crishone Johnson, born and raised in Washington DC. I am a 37-year-old African American female, and a first-time non-violent offender. I'm serving a 20-year sentence for Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute Cocaine Base. My case is out of the Western District of Virginia, and I have served almost nine years of my sentence. I have nine years remaining to serve according to the justice system, but GOD has the last and final answer. I was charged with conspiracy, yet, in order to have a conspiracy charge you must have conspired with two or more persons to commit a crime, right?

Wrong. I had a two-day trial alone with no co-defendants. In my case the jury did not return a verdict of drug amounts or enhancements. The reason being there was no amount of drugs or enhancements in my indictment. My PSI states that I had only 5.32 grams, which is not even one ounce.

However, I was convicted based upon the judge and probation officer enhancing me up to 10 ounces of cocaine base, resulting in an offence level 34. I also received a two-level enhancement for a firearm that I never possessed. That brought my base offense level up to 36 - not to mention an additional two criminal points for probation, to place me in a higher category even while the PSI report was being prepared for sentencing.

The people who testified against me, known drug users, were working with the US attorney, and they told lies in my case to get out of their own trouble. No evidence was submitted or proved to a jury or finder of fact beyond those charges in the indictment.

This is an illegal procedure prohibited under the Sixth Amendment. My basic constitutional rights were violated. All the enhancements that the judge and probation officer made up in my case are improper and illegal under the latest Supreme Court interpretations of Sixth Amendment intent in Blakely and Booker. Under the new ruling I should have been sentenced to 12-18 months instead of the 240 months I received.

I was raised in a middle class home in Washington DC. My mother worked very hard to take care of her two children, giving us the best education, clothing, medical care, food, and housing. I took care of my little brother and the household chores while she worked; this taught me to be independent. Now my mother is taking care of my son. My mother is a wonderful, loving person, and if it wasn't for her and God, I would be insane inside these walls. The support my mother and son give me keeps me uplifted.

This is my first time in prison, and I know that I made a big mistake. I am a victim of the drug war, a single mother working and just trying to make it and take care of my child, bills and myself. I don't think that I deserve 20 years or more for the first time in prison.

I feel as though I should be punished for what I did, but not for 20 years worth of time away from my child and family. This time is affecting our children; they're wondering when their mothers are coming home. My son asks all the time, "Mommy, when are you coming home?" I tell him one day soon because I have faith in God, and he will return me to my son and family.

The children of today are our future. The judicial system is not concerned how this affects them. Children need their parents, especially their mothers. We need to teach our children about this criminal justice system. Teach them about the corruption and abuse within prisons, and the wrongful convictions in the system. We need to be there for them, love them, let them know they are somebody and that they can be productive citizens.

I have a child who is 14 years old. I have been physically absent from his life for nearly nine years. I love my son dearly. Most children I see in the visiting room feel abandoned by their parents, dealing with psychological complexes of desertion, and emotionally destroyed. Does our government view this as the right thing for our children and society.

Congress hasn't made the rulings in Blakely, Booker, and Shepherd retroactive for people sentenced illegally 20 years ago. Why must we wait for Congress to rule if the Supreme Court stated that we were sentenced wrongfully? Why are the Judges not trying to correct these sentences? In thousands of cases, including mine, the facts were not proven to a jury, the facts were found by the judge and the probation officer. How can this continue to go on and on? I'm asking for justice.

Crishone Johnson 05809-084
FPC Alderson
Glen Ray Road, Box A
Alderson, WV 24910

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