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Diana Webb

12 1/2 Years, Meth Conspiracy

Diana with her mom

I was born in 1967 and was sentenced in 1996 to 12.5 years in federal prison for conspiracy to manufacture meth. I am a first-time non-violent drug offender. When released from prison I will be 40 years old, and then will be on supervised release for 5 more years.

Years ago I became friends with a man whom I found out much later bought and sold methamphetamine. I met him through the tenants of a rental house he owned. Charming and friendly, he asked to stay in my apartment while I was at work, saying he was doing major refurbishment on his own house at night. Unknown to me, he used my washer and dryer for himself and his friends and generally trashed my house. After several weeks of this, I tried to end this arrangement, but he refused to leave.

Then began a cycle of verbal abuse that soon escalated into violence. I had thought of myself as an aspiring young professional woman. Now I felt like dirt. Women who suffer abuse acquire a co-dependency and inner shame. We don't want to tell anybody, long to be loved, and out of fear and guilt stay with the abuser. For me, through a support group, I found the strength to walk away.

My friendship with that man lasted only a few months, but the consequences were deeper than anything I could imagine. During the entire time, he was engaged in a drug-dealing ring.

A couple of years after I terminated our friendship, he and two others were indicted for conspiracy to manufacture and distribute methamphetamine. I was questioned by detectives and asked for my cooperation. I had received death threats and did not cooperate, and so I was included in the indictment.

He cooperated with the government and received a four-year sentence, reduced by one year for participation in a drug treatment program in prison. During that period I learned he had molested a child, but that charge was swept under the rug. No action was taken against him since he had become a government informant.

Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines I was facing 293 months. A recommendation was made for a downward departure to only 12 1/2 years-which was thought of as a lucky break-for the abuse documented in medical and police reports and photographs. Since he was a government informant, no action was taken on the abuse cases.

In my home state of Missouri, the Crime Victims Compensation Fund pays medical bills related to abuse if criminally prosecuted by the State. Since none of the abuse cases were prosecuted, I had to pay the medical bills out of my own pocket. I lost my home through forfeiture.

I lost my career as an attorney. I lost my job, my license, and 12 1/2 years of my life. I lost the opportunity to have children, as I will be too old on release. I lost precious years with my family. I lost thousands of dollars in legal fees, and I lost happy times with my friends. When you come to prison, it is very lonely. Everyone forgets about you except your family and your closest friends.

Conspiracy was originally meant to catch the "kingpin" at the top who frequently escaped prosecution by sacrificing underlings. What has occurred is that conspiracy is now an all-encompassing charge under which the man at the top escapes punishment, since he has the most to tell in order to reduce his sentence.

Others who may have played a minimal role receive 10 years to life, since they do not have information helpful to the government, or out of fear for their lives dare not reveal information they may have.

With the incentive to fabricate stories due to harsh mandatory sentences for conspiracy, the criminal justice system has torn apart families, pitting brother against brother when family members are indicted. It has ripped the fibers of the family unit holding the country together. My father fought in three wars to defend this country. He would turn over in his grave if he could see what this country is doing to its citizens.

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