Mail Call!

My wife and children tell me in so many letters that they feel as if they too have been sentenced to time in prison. Our family endures so much that no one knows, but your paper expresses the grief that most cannot imagine. I am one of the many prisoners whose family cannot afford to come and visit. I have not been able to see my children in over four years and have no hope of seeing them for a long time to come. And now our phone time is restricted with the new BOP policy, which is making the separation from our loved ones all the worse.
The writing paper and envelopes we are allowed to have to write our friends and family is limited, too. We are only issued three sheets of paper and three envelopes a week. So needless to say, my family will be short one letter this week. Our legal work is impossible to submit without paper. One inmate wrote a motion to the courts on toilet paper because that was all he had. The judge ordered the U.S. Attorney to talk with the warden here to try and work something out. The prisoner was sent to the SHU.
There are so many things that go on in these places that no one knows about and the BOP doesn't want people to know about it. I do look forward to your paper. It helps so many of us to know there are people on the outside who are trying to help. Please keep up the good work. There are so many of us who thank you each day of our lives, knowing that you are working for us means so much to so many.
J.Z. - Prisoner of the Drug War

I hope that this note will reach you. I just finished reading "America's Drug War." You have put into words the outcry I have had inside my head for 20 years. The turmoil that the "drug war" has caused in my life is terrible, but I see that there are champions. That is you! I only became familiar with your organization last week when I found you on the Internet. I did send my donation--too small. Please, don't let yourselves be silenced. This country needs you more than it knows. Seventy percent of federal prisoners are in for drug crimes. People have their heads in the sand.

Here's a thought. It would be a good idea to encourage all inmates and their families when corresponding with one another, or anyone, to write on the outside of their envelopes, "There Is No Justice In The War On Drugs." What if all inmates' families and friends wrote this on their utility bills, emails, etc?
Clyde Biggins ­ Prisoner of the Drug War

I am a POW of this war and I am presently awaiting sentencing. No one seems to know or understand what this war is all about for those without support or appropriate representation. By using the media, the enemy has the masses believing that they are working in their favor by making the streets and communities safer. But in reality, all they are doing is leaving the communities without fathers, sons and brothers, unprotected with only women and children.
The prison camp where I am being held was originally built to house 400 inmates. At present it's occupied by a little over 800.
Thanks to everyone who's affiliated with putting The Razor Wire together and for all the other work done by The November Coalition.
Paul A. Kelly ­ Prisoner of the Drug War

My neighbor's been sharing The Razor Wire with me for the past 6 to 8 months, but has recently moved. Therefore I'm left in the dark, not knowing or aware of the latest on any drug law changes. Would you please bring me out of this darkness into the light by adding me on your mailing list to receive copies of your newspaper. That way I'm guaranteed to staying informed.
Thank you very much and I'll make sure other inmates get a chance to read my Razor Wire.
Brian Newson - Prisoner of the Drug War

Hello again, how's everybody doing? Hope all is well there on the front line. I wrote you last to tell you about the way things are going here in Texas. Remember the Tulia story? Well, I wrote you about the "Texomo Connection." We filed a complaint with the ACLU and NAACP also. The last we heard through our hometown newspaper was that there was a chance of six more counties being added to the Tulia lawsuit. We don't know if we are among those six, but wish us luck.
Jimmie, Prisoner of the drug war.

There are times since I've been in the Federal system when I've wondered how different my life could have been if I hadn't gotten myself in a predicament such as this. I wish I had finished high school. At the age of 15 I became pregnant with my first child. That was only half of it. I dropped out of school in the tenth grade with no job or education. To make matters worse, I decided to move out of my mother's house.
At the age of 16, when things seemed to be going differently from the way I had planned, I started to panic. The first person I would call was my mother. She would always be there for me. I would begin by saying, "Mom, something is wrong. What should I do? How should I correct it?"
My mom worked hard all her life to support five kids. She would always remind me that without a formal education it would be difficult to get a decent job. An education was something I thought I could do without.
Melissa Holmes - Prisoner of the Drug War

I was busted in August of 1999 for growing 100 plants. Everything I worked for, for 30 years, is gone--house, business and all my savings. A so-called friend informed on me. He was busted, then cooperated with the government and set me up. I was with my little grandson when I was arrested. Fifteen SWAT officers in black ninja costumes, faces covered, fully automatic weapons with silencers attached, verbally threatened to kill us both. I go to trial in a couple months and will be getting five years. I leave behind my wife, youngest daughter and grandson of whom I'm sole supporter.

I did very well in school last semester (I earned a 4.0 GPA) and used my back issues of The Razor Wire for several speeches and as background research for an argumentative paper for my English 101 class. Thank you so much for sending the posters. The look on the Unit Manager's face when she told me that I couldn't have them really made my day. I have enclosed another book of stamps to help out with the cause.
Ellis - Prisoner of the Drug War

As I look around and see how the majority of this inmate population is made up mostly of minorities like African-Americans, Latinos and other non-whites, I wonder if slavery was really abolished, or if it was just modernized into a new legal form called "prison."
I know all these things because I was 24 years old when I was first brought into the federal prison system in 1994 for my past involvement as a youth in an Asian gang. Although I had quit the gang 3 1/2 years prior to my arrest, and I was working 12-hours a day, 7 days a week, my past had caught up with me. I was a first-time offender, and here I am with millions of other inmates, waiting for my out-date in the year 2005, unless these laws change.
Will this weakening economy bring about more crime and more prisons? Will the number of prisons someday exceed the number of schools? Only time will tell. However, in the meantime, with a closer look at the criminal justice system today, I can only urge all of you taxpaying citizens to see how your tax dollars are being spent. Maybe if the government spent $24,000 per year for every student instead of every criminal, there would be more educated law-abiding citizens instead of criminals.
David Yi - Prisoner of the Drug War

New Mexico Corrections Department is closing prison law libraries. We no longer have access to case law, pens, writing paper, paper to draft pleadings on, envelopes, etc. I'm using my last resources as I write. The plan is to allow us to run out of what we have and not sell or give us any more.
Michael, Prisoner of the war on drugs in New Mexico

My name is Tommy Colbert. I'm a first- time offender serving 11 years for drug conspiracy. The only evidence was the testimony of snitches. The Southern district of Alabama refused to produce the DEA statements from the snitches at trial. Several have repeated to other persons that they told the DEA that I was not involved in the drug dealings, and that I was just a user. But because I stood up to them during a search of my brother's property, I was arrested for interfering with a government investigation. All three of my brothers and I were going to trial. One week before the trial they threatened to give my brother James life and to bring my mother into the so-called conspiracy. They had Western Union receipts where my mother sent my brother money. My mother has sent me money on several occasions, too. They said they could get a warrant for her arrest. My mother is a devoted Christian. My brother pled out. So, going to trial with one brother already pleading out made us look guilty right off the bat. My brothers even told the DEA that I was not involved with them. They told my other brother, "if you take the stand to tell a jury that Tommy was not involved, we will give you ten years extra if you are found guilty." Our trial was a joke, as is most trials in the Southern district of Alabama.
An inmate here, with only 7 months to go, had to escape to get proper medical help. He left a letter stating that he was dying. I know that for three months he had the runs, was going uncontrollable in his bed each night. Twice he was taken out on a stretcher. He begged them for medical help. His name was Steve Peyton. I could go on and on about the injustices at this camp. Thank you for your time, this letter is one way to get some stress out.
Tommy Colbert - Prisoner of the Drug War

Mass imprisonment is NOT the answer, and this is exactly what we have in America. It is time for America to wake up. Thousands of non-violent drug offenders are receiving stiff jail penalties and the 'war' is soaking the taxpayer. I would like to witness a little more wisdom at the helm in the ocean of money being allotted to the drug war; the war that is not working. Mandatory prison sentencing for non-violent offenders needs to stop. Mandatory long-term rehabilitation needs to begin. It makes more sense all the way around.
May God be our guide and give this country back its families!
Charlotte Stonestreet

My family is having a family reunion on July 6. They're coming together to discuss a plan to get my co-defendant (my cousin) and meout of here.
The commutation stories some have written in other publications (not the Razor Wire) left me bewildered. The message I received from these others' sources as to why prisoners like me and my cousin didn't receive a commutation was because we failed to publicize our cases! What a slap in the face for our Jubilee Justice Campaign 2000 - we were working for compassion and mercy for all, not just those who had publicity for their case.
Eleazar Thompson - Prisoner of the Drug War

I've been receiving your newspaper for the past few months now. I just wanted to drop your organization a few lines to say thank you for your efforts in regards to working to change unfair sentencing practices through your vigils and lobbying on prisoners' behalf. But more than that, I want to thank you for your stories about families and their struggle to maintain relationships while they're separated. These stories give me hope that as time goes by my relationship with my family has a chance to get stronger. I have no wish to be forgotten. I am married with two children, a daughter, 14, and a son, 17. Those two are the real victims of this drug war. My wife doesn't write anymore and my son is always busy trying to take up the slack. But I hear from my little girl all the time so I know how hard my being here is on them. My daughter wants to understand what it's like for me in here and I see her as one day becoming an activist for our cause.

I am doing a five-year sentence for distribution of 1.08 grams of crack cocaine. The warden's favorite line here is, "A fat jail is a happy jail!," I have been asking questions. Who gets the commissary's cash? Who profits from all the vending machine cash in the visitor's room? Washer and dryers take our money, we buy pictures when our families visit, where does that money go? No one gives me the answer. Man, I really thought the warden was talking about the chow hall.
Raydeen, Prisoner of the war on drugs

Wanted to write and thank you for allowing me to be a member of the November Coalition. I really look forward to receiving a copy of every issue and would like for that to continue. For every member, from the youngest to the oldest, I would like to thank you for taking the time to spread the word of these unjust sentences that this so-called Drug War is causing. I myself have an 8-year-old son who I love very, very much and want to help my wife of 12 years to raise him. I was sentenced to 20 years and have only done three, so it's unlikely that I will be able to help raise him unless there is more and more support to do away with this so-called drug war and to release the low-level drug dealers as well as the users. The prisons will always be overcrowded otherwise, no matter how many they build. People will always do drugs for one or another reason.

My father, James H. Abbott, born 11-20-1919 died July 5 2001. My father proudly flew the November Coalition flag at his house (until it wore out) and stretched the vigil banner in his yard until it too was destroyed.
Dad did really not know all that we stood for but he would tell people when asked about the flag and banner, "my son and I are fighting to expose the damned crooked lawyers and judges in this country. My boy doesn't deserve to be in prison 20 years while the real criminals run free."
Dad supported me throughout my nine years in prison.
Had I prevailed in all my appeals I would have gotten out last year and been able to make sure my father had adequate care and peace of mind knowing that his son was there for him. Lies and deceit and outright treachery kept me from this. One more black mark against the USA. My dad can rest in peace but their wrong deeds live on.
Eddie Abbott