It has now been over three years since you sentenced me to my time, and there are almost five more years to go before I am free. Despite the facts that I had no prior record and that I was sentenced to only three years in the state system, the federal system and you, deemed that it was necessary to incarcerate me to a term of nine years. That is a difference of six years and for a first offense, too. If I were serving state time, I would already be back at home putting my life together.
Out there in the real world I have a beautiful son who is now eight years old. In these past years I have had the blessed opportunity of visiting with him only twice; being that I am halfway across the country from him and have been denied a transfer to a prison closer to my home. So, here I sit in the anguish that only a mother separated from her child can fully understand, with yet another Christmas to endure.
Last year as with the years before, I sent him my little handmade gifts from prison. They were all made with the greatest care, all the hours of work evident. Each stitch or stroke carrying the love I have for him. It never fails, the nagging thought sets in, "Will he even smile when he receives this?" How does my gift compare to a boy's dream of BMX bikes or the newest Sega games? Each year I call home and listen to his ecstatic and joyous voice as he tells me all about the fantastic things he got for Christmas. He thanks me for the gift I send, but I choke back tears even so.
This year I fear that this Christmas will be the worst one yet. Thankfully, my son is being raised in a Christian home and being brought up by my mother. He is a very spiritual boy who prays each day and looks forward to church and bible class. He is everything a mother wishes for her child to be. Not long ago, my son told me that he has prayed for and has faith that God will bring me home for Christmas this year. He says that God can do anything.
Now, how do I explain to my child that his prayers don't matter and his faith doesn't count because I will still be spending my Christmas over 1,500 miles away, behind bars? I have tried to explain that this is my "discipline from God," but he is determined to move this mountain - with his faith and his prayers. This Christmas will be spent in lonely solitude with heart-breaking pain, knowing that my son's pure and perfect child-like faith is to be shattered by the injustices of this system.
Your Honor, in my case, no one was murdered or injured, yet I am serving more time for a first offense than most murderers, rapists and child abusers serve. Not only do I suffer, but my innocent son does too. There are over a million children in the same situation, and hundreds of thousands of parents. We made a very poor choice, yet are sentenced as hard-core, vicious criminals. Our children are being hurt, becoming full of anger and resentment. At the present rate of incarcerations, there are going to be countless embittered children.
Most of us were good, loving mothers and are absolutely no threat to society. With all the ramifications of this, which are too many to list here, what is being taught to this upcoming generation who will be our next leaders? A generation of anger and resentment is being bred, unlike any other preceding-the outcome of which I dread to see.
Your honor, knowing that you are a man who is in a position to uphold justice in this country, I urge you to work toward a system that won't produce a detrimental effect on society. There is a complete breakdown of the family, as we all well know, the basis of all else. I beseech you to help save our children.
Merry Christmas - Lillian Lee
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