My name is Richard V. Hamilton, III. I'm a federal inmate
housed at FCI Yazoo in Yazoo City, Mississippi. I am also group
leader for FCI Yazoo Veteran's group. We are honorably discharged
men who served in World War II, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War.
Some of our members are highly decorated veterans who may have
only made one bad choice in their lives, but it landed them in
a federal prison to be punished under the government's mandatory
minimum sentencing laws.
I just love the work you're doing; it's fantastic. I can't wait to get my paper again. I look forward to it. Enclosed please find the Jubilee Justice petition with five signatures and a poem about the federal medical center prison here in Fort Worth. There is much death here. You may print this if you like.
I am a pastor of the Gospel Sanctuary in Amarillo, Texas. My wife needed two back to back operations. We had no insurance, and so I defrauded a federal bank with fraudulent checks worth $11,000 to get the operations done. At the time there seemed to be no other way; we were flat broke.
My wife is fine now, and I was sentenced to 14 months at FMC Ft. Worth. You wouldn't believe the stiff sentences some of these guys get for such minor drug offenses; it's unbelievable. I would estimate that 75% of prisoners here are in for drug related offenses. My 'cellie' is 75 years old, got 10 years for conspiracy; Mr. Montauo across the hall is 81 years old, doing 7 years for possession of marijuana. Is this justice? No way; it's a death sentence for these men.
Keep up the good work. See we all make mistakes, even me. I'm no better.
Rev. Charles Brown, D.D.
I am a convicted bank robber who is serving his federal time. I am a "convict" surrounded by nonviolent drug offenders who should not be here. This is a prison for convicts. Every day the bus keeps coming and more of our youth step off, only to be thrown in with us "convicts". We mold them into something they never were or would have been, but when they leave, many are convicts like us. It is time for this insanity to stop. All I can tell you is to keep sending us your youth, and we will keep making them into convicts who may never again be nonviolent. Spread the word please; this is no joke!
Convict R. Carten
The BOP has some interesting words/phrases in the prison vocabulary, ideas such as SHU, Diesel Diet, Black Box, Bus Stop.
Bus Stop! I heard that one for the first time today. A dear sweet friend has found herself in the "Bus Stop" in Carswell, Texas. 'Bus Stop' is prison lingo describing a holding area for inmates awaiting a unit assignment. It's not very nice. You have little more than a cot, no work, no permanent housing, very little property. It's an outrage! But it is also indicative of a prison system on the verge of collapse by its own weight!
Here's a story told to me today. C has been in prison for 10 years now. She's doing a twenty-year bit for meth. She does not deserve it, but that's another story.
Recently, she was transferred from FCI Danbury to FMC Carswell. I am told she was pleased to be away from the horrors of Danbury. For the first time in several years she was able to look out at the landscape free of fences and razor wire. She seemed very happy. She even had a bathtub in her room! For the first time in ten years she was able to bathe without shower clogs and to luxuriate in a tub alone! She was in 'inmate heaven'.
Apparently the BOP decided that she "owed" them more time inside a fence. She told of being approached by a CO who ordered her to come with him. She thought she was being taken to SHU and so asked what she had done. She was being taken across the street and was not supposed to be in 'inmate heaven', and she was returned to purgatory. She was taken to the FCI without any of her property, no pillow, no sheets, nothing!
Something has to change!! What happened to C is a routine process within the BOP! Your relatives, friends and loved ones are subjected to rough, brutal treatment modestly described as unconcerned and insensitive!
C describes FCI Carswell as a high rise human warehouse packed beyond capacity. There is some work but not enough for all the women. There is little to do, only three working telephones, little or no privacy. This is prison life at its daily, monotonous worst.
I am writing from FDC Miami. Thank you so much for your newspaper. I share it and read to whoever will listen. Enclosed please find some stamps (my 12¢/hour pay).
Your cause is justified. I surround you all in the white light so that your energy is magnified. Yesterday I pled guilty to a charge (possession with intent to distribute) that will get me 135 months, and at 58 years of age this lady is going to do everything possible not to die in prison. Your energy to change things helps me keep on keeping on.
Little drops of water falling on hard stone will eventually wear away the rock. Little words beating constantly on the ears of a conditioned, lethargic public will eventually break through rigid minds. It is true, as many critics point out, that prison problems are old and tiresome subjects. But without that constant barrage of words prisoners might still be living in the age of the ball and chain.
Gary D. Jackson
A friend gave me your paper to read. It is a good to know there are people in the free world who do care. Reading it also brought on sadness learning of all the children torn away from mom or dad. I am 39 years old and have served a little over 2 years on a 15-year sentence given for a first time offense for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. I have six children - Corey, Nick, Ian, Shawna, Michael, Shayne. I love my kids. This sentence has been so devastating that the children would rather think of me as really dead instead of coming to grips with this peculiar living death.
Could you please send their mother a copy of your paper and one to my father? I don't have any money now, but here are stamps. I hope to send you more next month because I would like to become a member. I don't know, but I guess I'm hoping for a miracle. I feel only heartache knowing my kids, my family, have abandoned me, a cruel reality worse than doing the time. They say "out of sight, out of mind". So is it true?
(Editor's note: You are a member, Jeff. Thanks for the stamps, and keep your head up.)
I recently wrote you and briefly explained my situation. Praise the Lord someone cares about this war on drugs. I pled guilty to one kilo of cocaine of which I knew nothing. I was trying to buy a truck from a friend who did get caught, and now I am entrapped in his conspiracy. I am facing a minimum mandatory sentence of five years while he's living it up at home, not even charged with crime.
I am currently incarcerated at Pocatello's women's correctional center in Idaho. I am serving 4-9 years for aiding and abetting delivery of a controlled substance.
I happened by a copy of your paper in the library. I read your articles, and I am shocked and appalled at our legal system. I lost faith in it, personally, in 1995 when I was brutalized in county jail by a sergeant. He is a barber now in the very same town.
I am writing to thank you for what you are doing. I received a three-year prison term, basically, for being a drug addict. It amazes me to see the number of women in here with these ridiculously long sentences for drug law violations.
It is so sad because as children we are taught that drugs are wrong and all, but by the time it really sinks in it is too late and we wind up in prison. I am hoping that, together, we can get something done to change these harsh laws, and I will be contacting November Coalition after my release.
I personally believe that the reason they are confining so many people is for the money. Look at the billions of dollars Unicor makes from prisoner labor, not to mention the money the government makes from seizing our homes and other property.
Right now I'm in a prison so overcrowded they are putting beds in the TV rooms and making flats in the middle of our unit.
Good luck in trying to get these ridiculous laws changed.
You have my vote.
Sincerely Nancy Piche
A friend of mine shared your publication with me, and since I didn't want to destroy his paper by cutting out the membership form, I am sending this letter to ask that I be placed on your mailing list.
I must say that, as a writer, I am very impressed with the quality of articles that appear in your publication. Though I am not in prison for a drug law violation, as a long-time prisoner in my 17th year of confinement I can't help take note of some outrageous sentences drug law violators receive. Especially noticeable are the disparities in sentences that people receive, an inequity supposedly to be cured by the institution of fixed, determinate sentences equalizing one case with another.
Awareness of those inequities does not necessarily amount to being educated with regard to the politics behind the policies that cause the sentences. I thought that I had seen it all between the military and prison, but the Razor Wire certainly opened my eyes so much so that some of my future articles will certainly be on sentence disparities for drug offenders. Currently I write quite a bit for News and Letters in Chicago.
Robert E. Tallaferro, Jr,
I'm an inmate at FPC Beaumont in Beaumont, TX. My female pen pal mailed me her copy of the Razor Wire and I thought it was heaven sent. Thank you for speaking for so many inmates who can't voice their pain.
I was sentenced to 135 months (first time offender) conspiracy offense.
I understand punishment but over kill is ridiculous. I am 31 years old with a wife and four children (3 boys and 1 girl). Because I refuse to give them any information, I was hammered. These people are getting beyond themselves!
I would gladly appreciate a subscription for me; my wife, plus my sister. I've enclosed a few stamps, because at 12¢ an hour, I don't have much.
Thank you for caring when no one else does
My name is Boyd Gilbreath. I am serving a 66-month sentence at F.P.C. Beckley for fire arm in relation to a drug trafficking crime and possession of marijuana for resale.
A so called buddy of mine set me up and I was caught red handed with 5 pounds of weed and 4 guns.
My lawyer said the prosecuting attorney told her it I did not take a plea I would get 5 years imprisonment for each gun. So I took the plea and here I sit doing 66-months for what they call a violent crime. I am not eligible for sentence reduction for the drug program because I have a 924(c) which they consider a crime of violence. I never used any of my firearms in a violent way and I have never had any kind of assault charge.
I was on pre-trial release for over a year before I was sentence. I had a good job, a beautiful girlfriend, and a wonderful newborn son. The judge did not take this into consideration and still sentenced me to prison.
I can not afford to send any money at this time, but I'm really interested in receiving your newspaper the "Razor Wire".
I only make $25.00 a month and spend most of that on the phone calling to my mom and dad.
If there is anything I can do from here to help fight the injustices of the federal system please let me know.
Boyd Gilbreath, prisoner of the drug war
My name is Brandy Shipman. I'm twenty-five years old, mother of two daughters, and only child to my mother. The reasons why I'm writing is because I was convicted of conspiracy distribute a quantity of marijuana. I was sentenced to seventy-eight months because of level enhancements and guidelines. I believe this to be a harsh punishment for a first time offender who has never had any type of trouble with the law. There were several other people involved in my case. Some with previous offences and did no time or less than a year of jail time. I take responsibility for my actions and mine alone. At the time I didn't think of my association with those people or consequences that came with it. I feel as the prosecutor and my government said my life had no worth when they sentenced me. Some rapist, murders, and child moesters get less time than people charged with conspiracy or drug charges. The government would rather build more prisons than spend money on alternatives to help solve the problems. People make bad choices in life but that doesn't make them a bad person. I believe everyone deserves a second chance. I also believe if a person brakes the law they should be punished., but many factors should be taking into consideration. If not just the person who is being sentences, who life is effected but also the families. I hope and pray my letter will be taken into consideration and to heart.
Puff the magic dragon lives by the sea" sang the Vietnam war era song from whence the gunship was named. But "Puff" doesn't live there anymore since the Fuerzas Armades Revolucionaries de Columbia (FARC) shot it out of the sky last week and the only "Puff" left was a fireball crashing into a mountainside.
Puff was infamous for its awesome firepower and the bloody mayhem it inflicted upon the peace-loving people of the Republic of North Vietnam, the mendaciously treacherous Washington regime (District of Criminals and corruption) claims that no U.S. military personnel were aboard the downed Puff. Nevertheless, that is one down and even Bill Clinton's $1.3 billion appropriated for "Plan Colombia" will not purchase many high-tech Puffs, Hueys and Blackhawks in the rapidly escalating war-on-drugs fiasco encroaching into the mountainous jungles of South America.
Involvement of the United States in Colombia's civil war shows how insanely out of hand the war on drugs has become. Most people want drugs legalized, and drug prohibition has only caused more people to use drugs in defiance, despite the federal government's incarceration of more of its own citizens than any society in the history of the world - most of them for drugs.
David P. Holtz, Prisoner of the drug war
Just a quick note to let you know I've moved. I don't want to miss your next issue of the Razor Wire. By the way, you might be interested in hearing those of us here at Victorville are literally living in a warehouse. I also received some information from the internet, it shows that this prison was built on top of a toxic waste disposal. Can you believe it? The information is really scary!!
Debi Campbell, prisoner of the drug war
My name is Deborah Williams. My husband to be has been locked down since February 5th, 1997. I will never forget that day they came and took him away. He is a non-violent offender. He was given 5 1/2 years. My son was in the 4th grade, now he is in the 8th grade. Seems ike he's been gone forever. He is suppose to be released next year. Its been real hard trying to do it all on my own. I work 54 hours a week with one day off since he's been gone. And still can't seem to save enough to go visit anymore than twice a year. I am sending $1.00 to you, its not much but all I can give right now. Maybe next month I can send $5.00 and be able to receive your paper that you send out. Bless you for all your trying to do. If I can help let me know.
Hi, my name is Takara Kapral. My father had sent me some petitions to get signed. So I got 82 signatures. My father is serving a ten-year sentence at Fort Dix prison in Fort Dix NJ. So he has already served five of those ten years and asked me to get the petitions signed if not for him, maybe for someone else. Well, I am going to close now. If there is anything else I can do to help please write me back.
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