Mail Call!


I have been imprisoned for the last eight years after conviction for various narcotics violations and have nearly eight years remaining. I've come to believe that no matter how hard organizations like November Coalition and FAMM work for sentencing reform, I will spend eight more years in prison. The U.S. Government does not care what's moral or right. Its main concern is power and profit.
It is my belief that unless we put our energy into halting the exploitation of prisoners and the prison slave labor work force that generates millions of dollars in profit, the policy of locking up nonviolent offenders for long periods of time will continue. Although officials claim that the products created by slave prisen labor do not reach the private sector, it is a fact that the surplus does.
The extent of the government's financial stake in drug forfeiture is apparent from a 1990 memo in which the Attorney General urged U.S. attorneys to increase the volume of forfeitures in order to meet the Department of Justice's annual budget target: "We must significantly increase production to reach our budget target." " Failure to achieve the $470 million projection would expose the Department's forfeiture program to criticism and undermine confidence in our budget projections. Every effort must be made to increase forfeiture income during the remaining three months of (fiscal year) 1990."
The American citizens should be outraged by such a memo. It's an open invitation for DEA agents to abuse the seizure laws and trample on the rights of the citizens.
Vince Donovan, POW

I am an inmate at Taft FCI, Calif. I just read a copy of Razor Wire and thought it was great. Thank you for being the voice of those who can't speak. I was sentenced to 17 1/2 years for a first time smuggling offense.
I understand doing some time but 17 1/2? I am 53 years old; they took everything I owned and hammered me when I wouldn't give up my secretary. The feds are something else!
I would appreciate a subscription for both me and my wife. I've enclosed some stamps, as we don't have much money.
Thank you for all you are doing
Danel Allen

My name is Douglas Lamar Gray. In 1992 I received a life without parole sentence for trafficking in marijuana. I bought one pound of pot in Decatur Alabama from a paid informant who made $100.00 for the drug deal. I am 46-years-old and have nearly served eight years for a pound of pot in Ala prison.
I am a handicapped vet with artificial leg and was set up to buy the pot. My story made the February issue of Time Magazine last year. I would like you to print my story for me because all of my appeals have been turned down. I was an independent roofing contractor and owned my own business, but now I have nothing and no way to turn to. I am a habitual criminal because I had two prior burglaries when I was 17 years old. They gave me life without parole because of Alabama habitual offender law. I have a 12-year-old son who needs me badly, but how to get out of here is the question.
My life here is wasted and there is nothing at all for me to do but write and try and get some help from concerned citizens. I would greatly appreciate you sending me a copy of the November Coalition's Razor Wire too. Thanks for your time and possible help in this matter.
Douglas L. Gray 11532265-115

I am beginning to correspond with B.E. Smith because I heard that he would like to receive letters, and he is a hero to us fighting for freedom. I would also like for him to receive The Razor Wire; so I'm sending you a contribution for his membership. If he already receives The Razor Wire, I'd like copies to be sent to his wife.
I don't know what to say to him, other than the fact that many of us admire him, and we are working to bring change to the world, so people like him will never be incarcerated again. It seems ironic that he went to fight for the country that we were all taught was "The Land of the Free" when we were young. Now with about 5% of the world's population, we hold one-quarter of the world's prisoners, of which he is one! America is certainly not "The Land of the Free" anymore.
I've asked a friend of mine, who also served two tours of duty in Vietnam and is working with me to change the laws, to write to him. We must give him support, and let him know that he is not forgotten.
Duane Grindstaff

Subject: Drug War
From: C. Reed
I was released from prison here in Washington in January of 96. I went to the University of Washington and graduated in June 97 with a BS in psychology with departmental distinction. I studied addiction under Alan Marlatt of the Addictive Behaviors Research Center. I feel like I have all this knowledge and experience and its being wasted while lives are being destroyed. I would be happy to receive any information on where I might get involved.
Ex-prisoner of War 701019, AA, BS

Subject: Information
From: Hamza
I am a senior at UC Berkeley majoring in Legal Studies. I was researching information re: my Honors Thesis (The War on Drugs, Women, and the Families) when I happened to find your site. It is incredible how everything I was looking for was included in your site. I sympathize with the story of every woman as these are often the same women I have known in my community as a child.
I also work in the Oakland school district with children who are the victims of the "War on Drugs" and their stories are identical to those you have included.
I would really like to get involved with your organization - financially and otherwise.

Subject: Hello
From: Jo deShaw
I thoroughly enjoy the Razor Wire. Am sending money for my son, Ricou, who is incarcerated in Miami FPC to receive a copy. He is currently incarcerated for charges for which he was acquitted of in Mobile, 1989. It is a long, long story, one which we have been fighting for 11 years. One of the politicians that is especially dangerous to the War On Drugs is J.B. Sesssions. He is the Senator from Alabama and a former Prosecutor from the Southern District of Ala. Mr. Sesssions was denied a Federal Judgeship because of severe bigotry and racism. This is documented. The Justice Dept. designated that department as the worst in the nation for prosecutorial misconduct and abuse of power. This, when Mr. Sessions, was U.S. Attorney, in that district. Since viewing 'Snitch' I doubt he will get the black vote, he shouldn't get any vote. Senator Orrin Hatch and Bill McCollum from Florida are two others that we should concentrate on removing as well. Your work is wonderful. I wish I could do more to help.

From: Jill Myatt
Subject: Light in the Window
The local newspaper here in Brevard County, Florida (Florida Today) published the Light in the Window letter I sent them, and it even made 'letter of the day'. I am very pleased. My candle is in my window, and it burns 24/7. I have dedicated it to Todd McCormick, and have told his mom I have done so.
Thanks for providing a great idea that expressed my feelings and gave the local readers something to think about. Ever the optimist, I have driven around the neighborhood looking for candles burning in windows, but no luck yet. Mine WILL continue to burn until all drug war prisoners are free and safe and home with their family and friends.

Subject: other victims
From: Kathleen
My husband is an inmate at the Federal Prison Camp in Edgefield, SC. His crime? He made mistakes in billing Medicare as a physician caring for nursing home residents. He misinterpreted the codes. The government pursued it as a "conspiracy," and he received a 33 month sentence. Most of the sentence is due to "money laundering". He never hid a cent of his earnings.
The money laundering is a direct result of our war on drugs. I would like to have our main stream citizens become aware of the way our constitutional rights have been stripped away under the guise of protecting us from drugs. My husband's eyes have certainly been opened by hearing the story of his fellow inmates.
It seems that the government has all of the guns and can pretty much do as they choose. Juries are certainly pro-government in their decisions. The quote from Margaret Mead was very inspiring as I embark on organizing an effort to bring public attention to this horror. I'm sure a lot of people in our position are afraid of further harm being done if we open our mouths to protest

I am very interested in receiving your paper. My friend gave me a couple of your papers to read, and I was absolutely amazed at how many families, like my own, suffer from parental incarceration.
I am a 34-year-old mother of three boys. My oldest is seven-teen and will graduate this year (2000). My middle son is fifteen and will graduate in three years. And my youngest is seven years old. I was found guilty of conspiracy in July of 1999. I have 87 months to serve.
My boys are truly suffering from their mother being gone, especially my 15-year-old. I am all for and in total support of legislative changes. I feel helpless and almost hopeless. I have never been in jail or prison before, and my depression is very bad! Please keep pushing for us! Your help and support is greatly appreciated. If there are things people like me can do to help, please write back and let me know. My home state is Nebraska, and I am in prison in Illinois. This is the closest prison to home for me.
Thank you for everything.
Erin S. Veik 15459-047

Here two weeks ago I was moved to a different cell location on my unit. Upon giving my cell the usual grade A scrub down before unpacking and setting down I found two issues of The November Coalition newspaper in my locker box. It's very unfortunate that they were left behind, yet I also thank the person greatly. I dried my hands and picked up the two issues and scanned them briefly, taken aback surprisingly by the contents I saw.
I have seven years in on a 30-year sentence for a drug-related crime. I don't know where I've been nor how your newspaper has passed me by. Reading your papers was a wakeup call most definitely!
I can not afford to make cash donations but I would like a membership to The November Coalition and receive each issue of "The Razor Wire"
I'd also like to state that I can will and am contributing three 33¢ stamps to your "dollar campaign" with hopes that it makes a difference in your total so far!
Thank you for your time and consideration.
My grade-A scrub down cleaning was completed after I finished reading both issues thoroughly!!
Ernesto Godina
Texas Prisoner of the drug war

First and formost I would like to thank you all for everything you are doing at the November Coalition. I think all of this work will pay off soon. I am a male with an eight-year sentence for marijuana. I met Gary Callahan at FCI Forrest City, and we began to discuss the issues of the November Coalition.
I went on to get my family, codefendants and everyone I come in contact with involved. I am very disappointed in the lack of interest shown by the many people who are incarcerated and their families. It aggravates me to see the injustice done in this country and that there are so few people willing to take action and help change the drug laws. So my message is it's time to take action. Get your family and friends to speak out and write letters. Don't be lazy; let's get active now!
Chad Chovanetz

On October 25, 1999, unit 15 was subject to a mass testing to catch those using drugs. A small percentage of prisoners who found to be dirty, and were taken to the hole. Shortly after, another ten inmates were also taken away. The cause was that their urine was too clean.
They were given the opportunity to admit that they had adulterated their urine in exchange for a punishment of less severity. None did. The tests were monitored, and the participants were given no warning as to when they would occur. If they were unable to pee, the officers gave them one hour to comply, urging them to drink fluids to do so. Failure to comply in an hour's time would result in going to the hole.
Ten inmates were served with disciplinary ordinance reports under the code pertaining to "use or possession" of drugs. Twenty days later they won a reversalafter twenty days in solitary.

I don't know if you can ever use these or not, but I'm sending you a book of stamps. It's about the best I can do right now.
You don't have to send me your publication or anything. I read other people's copies.
I admire you for having the guts to take a stand. That's more than most people will do. Thanks for caring. Keep their feet to the fire.
Michael D. Baker 02723-025