Diana Gonzales Buchanan -- #61126-079

24 years 5 months, Crack Conspiracy

Diane Buchanan, prisoner of the drug war
My name is Diana Gonzales Buchanan. I am 32 years old and have been incarcerated since age 24. I am serving a 293-month sentence for a crack cocaine conspiracy. I will be 45 years old upon my release.

I grew up in a violent world. I lived across the street from a bar where my father would send my sister and I to buy his cigarettes and beer. Shoot-outs, fights and verbal and physical abuse were regular occurrences at my house from a violent, alcoholic father. Four days before my 6th birthday, my father shot and killed my mother because she was going to take us away from him. Then he shot himself. After that, I cared about no one.

I went to live with my grandmother, but I ran away at age 12. That's when I lost my virginity and started drinking and smoking. I met my husband when I was 17. He was my lifeline, and I was introduced to a different lifestyle -- fast cars, money and women. I enjoyed the money and fast cars, but I hated the fast women around my husband. Several months after I started living with him, the door was kicked in by police, and I was detained and later released. That should have been my wake-up call, but I allowed myself to be persuaded, and stayed with him. He would give me money. I would go shopping. And everything would be all right.

Diane Buchanan, prisoner of the drug war
On March 24, 1993, my husband was arrested on federal charges. One week later a policeman knocked at my door. I did not answer because years before we were robbed at our home by two men who claimed to be police officers. They came into our house and tied, blindfolded and beat my husband. They put a shotgun to my crotch and threatened to kill me. Then they both raped me. After that, I swore I would not be a victim again. So this time, I didn't answer the door, but I saw through another window that several police officers were in my yard. I was flushing some drugs down the toilet that I had in my house when my door was kicked in.

While I was reading the search warrant, officers were searching my house, supposedly to secure it. My arresting officer went straight for the kitchen and started searching the cabinets and pantry; but he testified that "cocaine (was) observed through the kitchen area of the residence in small plastic bags." That was not true. I reminded him that he forgot to read me my rights. He pointed to the officer holding me and tells me that he (the officer holding me) will testify that my rights were read. Then he reads me my rights. And all the evidence was admissible. They portrayed me as a violent criminal, which I am not, though I lived in a violent world.

We had guns in the house, so I had a two level increase in the offense level. But the information provided the court painted a biased picture in order to give me a longer sentence.

I have grown up so much in the last couple of years. In a way, I am thankful that I had to come to this point. But my only regret is that I will never get the opportunity to make mature decisions, have children, or have a meaningful relationship.