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Maria P. Avila


Top: Patty & Susan
Bottom: Robert, Maria & Jose Jesus

Maria Avila was 23 and pregnant when she was arrested for a minor role in her husband's cocaine operation in 1990. She knew he was selling drugs, but never took part in any drug deals. Even though she was found to be the most minor participant, she received a 10-year minimum mandatory sentence.

Like many women in drug cases, she would have received a break if she had 'cooperated' with the government; in this case, testifying against her husband and his associates. For her refusal to betray them, our government took away her life, and the lives of her children.

Maria's children barely know her. She has seen them only once during her long incarceration. They are being raised by their elderly grandmother, 2,100 miles away, and are troubled kids, acting out their understandable rage and confusion at having their mother locked up so far away, when they need her so desperately in their lives. Patty's mother, Maria Mares, struggles to make ends meet, and to care for four young children whose parents are both in prison for unconscionable lengths of time with no hope of parole.

Because Maria is technically an alien, she will be deported to Mexico when she is released, even though she has lived in the United States since she was two years old.

Maria Avila is being held at FCI Tallahassee, Florida.

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