Over 227 combined years

The following are twenty-six brief summaries of low-security-risk women incarcerated in Arizona at Phoenix Federal Prison Camp. The confinement of these twenty-six women (a sample of 290 inmates at this camp) means sixty-eight children have become orphans. The amount of time these women will serve in total is 227 years and 2 months! All women at this minimum security work camp - that has NO locks and NO fences ­ could and should be allowed to go home under minimal supervision to their children and loved ones.

If all these women serve the time to which they are sentenced, over 5 and half million dollars will be spent by the taxpayers for this unnecessary incarceration. Add to that the cost of welfare and foster care for many of their children and the emotional costs so vast, that the cost can no longer be calculated.

Doesn't simple common sense suggest it would be much more economical and humane for these women ­ convicted of victimless crimes - to serve the majority of their sentences on 'home confinement' and/or supervised probation and treatment? As you will see, most of these women did not commit a crime deserving of the extreme prison sentences they must endure.

 Dolores Hernandez - age 48 w/4 children - 70 months

In 1997 a drug dealer who was a casual acquaintance set me up. I was convicted of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.
 Julie Stephens - age 39 - 10 years
I was convicted of conspiracy to possess and distribute methamphetamine. The evidence against me consisted of one phone call from a snitch in Texas. Conspiracy laws and their mandatory sentences are outrageous for us nonviolent offenders.
 Maria Aragon - age 28 - 20 years
I was convicted of conspiracy to possess and distribute methamphetamine and ephedrine for which I received a 20-year mandatory sentence. Like many other women here, several people testified against my husband and me so they could receive a lower sentence. Due to the length of my sentence, I will probably not be blessed with having children.
 Judy Armijo-White - 3 children -
5 years

In November 1999 my husband and I became entangled in a police investigation involving our daughter's boyfriend. We cooperated with authorities completely, even though we had no information to give or ability to help them much. Neither of us has a previous criminal history. Even though the same charges were filed against each of us using the same evidence, my husband was found innocent, and I was found guilty! The system is totally incomprehensible.
Debbie Mendes - age 42 w/3 children - 12 years, 6 months
I am a widowed mother of three and a first-time nonviolent offender. I was included in a major drug conspiracy and charged with money laundering for a drug organization. I was convicted at trial based on false 'snitch testimony' provided by paid informants. I'm serving time for the real drug dealers who are either fugitives or got immunity for false testimony.
 Jackie Quarterman - age 52 w/3 children - 9 years
I was not a drug dealer but knew some people involved with drugs. I was set up and entrapped by a paid informant I had been dating. My two grown sons were thrown in to make a conspiracy, and we all three received horrendous sentences (6 1/2, 9 and 16 1/2 years). The biggest tragedy in my case (besides having my two sons in prison) is being separated from my young 12 year-old son who is now being raised by my young, single brother.
 Anita Vasquez - age 43 w/3 children - 3 years, 9 months
I'm a first-time nonviolent offender. My appointed attorney and the U.S. marshals told me to plead guilty to conspiracy or I would be imprisoned for 20 years, and they would take my children away. I had no information to give them and was sentenced to 46 months. My children have been separated, abused, and moved three times in these two years of my incarceration.
 Barbara Johnson - age 51 w/12 children - 5 years
They used a paid informant with a mile long criminal record against me. I lost my husband to cancer in 1996, the same year the prosecutors hyped my state case to make it federal. They unfairly pulled my daughter into the conspiracy and she was sentenced to 5 years as well.
 Ramona Ruiz - age 32 w/2 children - 63 months
I was convicted and sentenced for conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute marijuana. The evidence was a co-defendant who lied to get a reduced sentence and got it. I am a first time nonviolent drug law violator.
 Joan Tejada - age 54 w/1 child -
33 months

I was accompanying a friend to a location where each of us had personal business. Unbeknownst to me, four suitcases were checked with us holding about 100 pounds of marijuana. I opted for a jury trial expecting justice to prevail. My co-defendant turned government witness against me in exchange for a sentence of 18 months, and I was given almost 3 years.
 Elma Yagin - age 44 w/3 children - 12 years, 7 months
I am a divorced mother of three who is a first-time nonviolent offender. I was charged and convicted of possession without even knowing about the drugs! I took and passed a polygraph test before trial that my public defender did not even use. I've been in prison for seven years now without legal help except from other inmates.
 Crystal Nolan - age 27 w/1 child -
6 years

I was convicted in April 1998 on conspiracy to possess and distribute methamphetamine. The only evidence on the record were phone calls.
 Barbara Davis - 3 children - 5 years
I was charged with possession with intent to deliver methamphetamine. I was guilty of the crime and so pleaded. I was also given a two-point enhancement for a new unloaded pistol found in my vehicle. I am now labeled a violent offender and do not qualify for the drug program and a possible one year reduction.
 Natalie Lay - age 27 - 5 years
I was convicted of sales of 5 grams of crack cocaine. There were thirteen people involved in my case. Since I was one of the last people to be convicted, my sister and I recieved the most prison time of any other people in this case.
 Debi Campbell - age 44 w/4 children - 19 years, 7 months
I am a mother of four children and a first-time nonviolent offender. My sentence was based solely on testimony from a government informant who was a four- time convicted felon. I've been incarcerated for six years and fight every day for something to change with these draconian drug laws.
 Katrice Glass - age 32 w/1 child -
15 years, 8 months

I've been in prison for five years now, leaving my seven-year old daughter to be raised by my mother. I was convicted of intent to distribute crack cocaine. I received such an extreme sentence because I refused to testify against my brother. My brother was sentenced to twenty-seven and a half years without my testimony.
 Maria Gonzalez - age 55 w/2 children - 9 years
I am uneducated and speak no English, and so I did not comprehend the legal process. Unfortunately, my husband, son and I agreed, out of financial desperation, to store some cocaine in our storage shed. I was not involved with drugs before this one time.
  Wendy Herrera - age 32 - 50 months
I was convicted of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. The amount was less than one pound, and the prosecuting attorney told me that I would do ten years to life if I didn't accept the plea bargain.
 Kathryn Elwood - age 27 w/1 child - 5 years
A girl who wanted to get her boyfriend off the hook set me up. I was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm and sentenced to 60 months. 
 Joan Hodgkinson - age 41 w/3 children - 37 months
I was originally arrested in February 1996 for possession with intent to distribute marijuana. Federal prosecutors turned my case over to the state, and I was sentenced in state court. After fulfilling my state sentence in August 1998, federal prosecutors charged me with conspiracy. I am now serving a federal sentence. I committed one crime and have been sentenced twice. I'm a first time nonviolent offender.
 Yvonne Stribling - age 64 w/5 children - 12 years,
7 months

I have been incarcerated almost five years. I was arrested, tried and convicted for possession and distribution of a controlled substance. I helped a so-called friend drive from California to Illinois and was stopped by police. I had no knowledge of the drugs, took a lie detector test and passed. As hard as I once fought against drugs, I still cannot believe that I'm incarcerated for a drug crime!
"Jane Smith" - age 34 w/2 children - 12 years, 7 months
I was arrested and convicted of distribution of methamphetamine on the word of a paid informant with a long criminal record. I was badgered into accepting a sentence of 151 months after threats by the prosecutor to give me life. My two daughters had to be separated from each other. I finally got to see my youngest daughter after two years, both girls live 1200 miles away from the prison where I am being held.
Andrea Asch - age 38 w/4 children - 10 years
I received a 10-year sentence for conspiracy to possess and intent to distribute. The only evidence against me was hearsay.