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
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
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
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
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
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.
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, Ala.in 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
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
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!!
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!
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