Danielle Metz -- #24803-013

Life in Prison - Cocaine Conspiracy

Danielle Metz, prisoner of the drug war
I am a 28-year-old African-American woman serving three life sentences plus 20 years for cocaine related offenses. I have been incarcerated since January of 1993. I am separated from my two young children; my son Carl, 10, and my daughter Gelniesha, 6.

I am a first-time, nonviolent offender, yet because I would not and could not cooperate with the DEA, I'm serving an astonishing natural life sentence. This should be a criminal act in and of itself. How can this be justice? To sentence me to such an extreme sentence should have been unusual; unfortunately, there are many people who have been incarcerated solely because of hearsay.

My husband was accused of being part of a conspiracy to distribute five kilograms of cocaine. Shortly following his arrest, I was arrested. I believe I was indicted solely to put pressure on my husband, since the indictment named him as the leader of the conspiracy. At the time of my arrest the police told me that they were not after me but after my husband. They threatened me by saying that I would never be with my kids again if I did not tell them what they thought I knew.

Our trial was delayed for one year while the DEA found people desperate enough to bear false witness against me as a retaliatory measure for not 'cooperating'. These people consisted of individuals who themselves were accused or convicted of drug-related charges and were seeking leniency or a sentence reduction on a sentence they were serving. Until my trial my attorney told me that the government had no evidence against me, and that I would likely go free.

Before my arrest several people were indicted on drug offenses and sent to prison. Every one of these people were caught with drugs in their possession. These people were offered sentence reductions to testify against me and my codefendants. Some of these 'witnesses' were serving as much as 30 years, and now the majority of them are in a halfway house or free. I sit in prison serving three life sentences plus 20 years and the guilty go unpunished. Again, I ask: is this justice?

I pray that God answers not only my prayers and the prayers of my children, but the prayers of the thousands of other mothers and children that share in this struggle for justice.