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Is the war on drugs really working?

By Hassan Henderson, prisoner of the drug war

Over Reliance Of Informants In Drug Law Enforcement

I am a 26-year-old black male. I was convicted of conspiracy to distribute 50 grams or more of cocaine base within 1000 feet of an elementary school, the transactions monitored and supervised by the Kansas City, Missouri police's drug enforcement unit. Police used a confidential informant to purchase cocaine from someone who supposedly received drugs from me. I was sentenced to 210 months (17 1/2 years) for my role in a non-violent crime based on the word of informants.

I know that using and selling drugs isn't always good, and some drugs have caused problems for many people. But the laws cause a lot of the problems, too. The jails and prisons are full of first time non-violent offenders, most sentenced to ten years or more. Sending a non-violent drug law violator to jail for that long is such a terrible waste of a person's life, and also taxpayers' money.

I will be 43-years-old by the time I am eligible for release. This is such a waste of time for anybody to have to sit inside of a jail serving a long mandatory sentence. I've been incarcerated for six months and cannot see how the government sees this in any way as rehabilitation.

This place offers nothing to prepare me for release. I think that in some cases people deserve to get a second chance to prove they can be law-abiding citizens. Cameron Michael Reagan, a grandson of former President Ronald Reagan (one leader chiefly responsible for these mandatory sentences) was sentenced to 90 days in a drug program after he was found with marijuana while on probation. Why is it that he is offered a drug program while so many others like myself have to serve long mandatory sentences in federal prisons?

I think that more people should write our lawmakers and let them know that they do not approve of these unconstitutional laws that are not fair to everyone. Our families are dealing with the loss of loved ones for unrealistic amounts of years and must spend large amount of money for visiting, financial support, telephone calls, hygiene (soaps, toothpaste, etc.).

Like I said in the beginning, drug trafficking is not right, but in most cases the transactions are victimless crimes. Non-violent offenders deserve a second chance to prove an ability to change for the better. We need to seriously think about doing away with soulless guidelines and mandatory sentences because they are not working. They are only separating and destroying entire generations.

Hassan Henderson 12493-045
PO Box 4000
Springfield, MO 65801-4000

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