Sentenced to 28 years in September, 1998 for conspiracy to manufacture and possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine
My name is Beth Cronan. I am 41 years old and a mother of three. I am currently serving a 28-year sentence for a drug conspiracy. I am a first-time offender.
I was raised in a wonderful home with parents who loved me. I was the only child in a middleclass family. I was always safe and protected. I was full of trust. I believed in our country, in justice and the American Dream. My story is a tragedy of a life destroyed and hope shattered.
After graduating from high school I went to work in my father's business as a dental technician. I became pregnant and was a single mother for several years. I then met a man, married him and relocated to Florida. We had a son together, bought a home and were a typical family for many years. Neither of us were ever in trouble with the law. We were active in the community, our neighborhood and with our children. When our marriage ended, the bottom fell out from under me. I was lost. I finally sought help and was treated for clinical depression, but I still felt empty.
About eight months later I met a man. At the time, I didn't know that he used drugs. A few months into our relationship he introduced me to crystal meth. All of a sudden I had tons of energy, lost a few pounds and there were so many extra hours in the day. Within a few months I was hopelessly addicted.
My life quickly began to fall apart. It wasn't long before I lost my job. I couldn't get up for work because I'd only gone to sleep an hour before the alarm went off. I no longer did any of the things I enjoyed. I neglected my children, never opened a book, my house was a mess and my bills were piling up. I no longer saw my old friends. They knew something was wrong with me but I didn't want to hear what they had to say.
I was introduced to new friends who lived a life of drugs; a whole crowd of people who never slept and never accomplished anything. They spent a lot time laughing at me and my naivete of their life. I wanted them to like and accept me, although now I can't imagine why. I became aware that they were manufacturing their own low-grade methamphetamine. I watched and I learned. I was in way over my head. Within months the man I was seeing had lost interest in me and moved on to the next woman. I also found out that a few of these people had been arrested and the entire crowd was being investigated by the D.E.A. I sent my sons to live with my ex-husband, abandoned my home and left for Florida with a new friend to live the life of a fugitive. At the time I hadn't even been indicted. Fear, ignorance and addiction were my motivation.
I traveled from one person's house to another, trading speed for a roof over my head. From day to day I lived a life of drugs. Within months I was arrested along with three others in an abandoned house. I was an outsider of this local crowd. I had no criminal experience and not knowing the ropes or the deals to be made through cooperation, I didn't fare as well as my co-defendants. Although they all had lengthy criminal histories, and even though I was the first to plead guilty, I received more than four times the sentence as any of them. Due to their testimony against me, I went from being a somewhat pathetic drug addict to the leader of the "conspiracy." I was labeled a "master cook" with the capability of producing one to three kilos of "Ice" (a high-grade, pure methamphetamine). I have never even seen "Ice," much less know how it is produced. According to the testimony of my co-defendants, I was solely responsible for their ultimate decline.
At my attorney's advice, I pled guilty. He believed that I would receive three to five years. The government attempted to give me life. I received 28 years instead. If I serve my complete sentence, I will be released at the age of 64. I am destitute. I own nothing.
In the past years that I have been incarcerated I have done a lot of soul searching. I have looked at what led me to the extremely poor choices that I made. I have taken advantage of the very limited programs available on the inside to enrich my life and I have become a very spiritual person. I have also renewed my family ties. I am working as a dental technician in the prison. I am trying to overcome the shame and guilt for the damage I have inflicted on my family. And I've made a lot of progress. I would never repeat my mistakes if I were given another chance to prove myself.
I delivered my daughter alone with my leg shackled to a hospital bed and I have missed every day of her life. My sons are almost grown now. In here you cling to any thread of hope - any rumor of a change in the mandatory sentencing, which you know is simply that, a rumor. You wait on justice and you wait on God. You just continue to fight the good fight and know that you are not alone.
At the time of this publication (January 2002), the caretakers of Beth's daughter are trying to terminate her parental rights. Beth's daughter is 2 years old.
Beth Cronan 04359-017
PO Box 27137
Fort Worth, TX 76127
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