Diane Nelson -- #06050-031

30 years -- Crack Conspiracy

Diane Nelson, prisoner of the drug war
We started selling drugs just to survive and live, and on Feb. 7, 1989 the police came and busted our house; knocked out windows, kicked in doors, held guns to my children's heads, and told them if they moved they would fire. They had to hold their arms out the side of their beds. This was at 10 o'clock at night. There were three raids, in all of them they kicked out windows and doors. In one raid, an air conditioner fell on my one-year-old grandson's head, and he had to be taken to the hospital.

My family was torn apart, and my children were devastated. They have had a lot of hardship to contend with since I've been locked up. They have been placed in one foster home after another since my incarceration. My parents kept them for two years, but it got to be too much for them, because my children became angry and bitter after my arrest, and acted accordingly. One is now in a group home due to her anger and outbursts of rage.

My family is still going through trials and the kids aren't really accepted anywhere because they come from a mixed marriage, and have had to endure so much.

How it happened

By Crystal Nelson, Diane's daughter

When I was 9 years old, my family was split apart when both my parents and three of my brothers were taken to prison for drugs. My parents always made sure their children had what they needed. My parents and brothers have been in prison for six years. It's hard for kids to be on their own. The day they were taken to prison, I felt like my heart had jumped out of my chest and onto the ground, I hurt so badly.

When I was 15 years old, I had a summer job. I sent my parents money to help with their personal needs while in prison. My mom makes 12¢ per hour, and my dad $50 a month. Whenever I scrape up enough money to send to them, I do it. God has made a special place in my heart for children like me, because I know how it feels not to have your parents, or even one of them, to take care of you. My mom used to tuck her four kids in bed at night, and one night after she had tucked us all in, the police came jumping through our windows, breaking down doors, and worst of all, pointing guns at everyone in the house. Now that I know God is always there, I pray to Him every day to help me through the hardships in my life, and also to help my family through any problems they may have.

I also attend church whenever I go see my grandparents, about every other weekend. Because I am in a Girls' Home, I don't have any control over when I get to go to their house. But when I do go, I take my 6-year-old cousin, 3-year-old cousin, and 6-month-old nephew to church, because I feel they should know about God before their life starts getting harder. I learned the hard way, but I still thank God for keeping my family in contact. I realize you have to be really strong to live this way.