Harry Peak -- #00345-017

3 Life Sentences -- Drug Conspiracy

Harry Peak, prisoner of the drug war
My brother, Harry Peak, is 64 years old and serving three life sentences for a non-violent drug offense. My brother's court-appointed attorney was totally inadequate and didn't even read the case until 10 minutes before the trial. I know Harry did wrong, but he doesn't deserve a death sentence, which is what they basically gave him. Harry is always feeling ill and has chronic kidney ailments. He has prostate problems, too, which is how our father died.

We were separated when I was 3 and Harry was 4 because our parents got a divorce. Our mother was an alcoholic, and so I was raised by my great aunt who provided a good home. Harry was raised by his father and a stepmother who was cruel to him. Harry kept running away, and each time it brought heavier consequences for him. He was placed in a reformatory and labled incorrigible. Finally, at age 14, he ran away to Florida for good. Everything he learned was from cons: how to live on the streets and get by; how to eat and find a place to live. We are of the same seed, but I was raised in a good home. Harry was raised by professional criminals who taught him the tricks of the trade and gave him their friendship. So I believe it is the environment that makes criminals, but Harry never hurt anybody but himself. He was just trying to survive the only way he knew how.

After we were separated as little children, we never saw each other again until our father died in 1982 when we met at his funeral. We hugged and couldn't let go of each other. We visited a short time, but I found out later that he was in trouble for selling drugs, and was picked up in New York a few days later. Harry spent several years in jail. When he got out, he worked off his parole and lived in a half-way house in Florida, where again he got on the wrong side of the law. The "three strikes" law put my brother away until death for a non-violent crime.

I wrote to Irv Homer of WWDB who is known for his stand against long jail terms for drug offenders. He didn't reply. I wrote the warden of the prison and also Kathleen Sawyer, the director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and they said Harry wasn't sick enough to qualify for compassionate release. I wrote to Congressman Greenwood and First Lady Hillary Clinton, but got no help.

I am 63, and time is running out for both of us. I had great hope of spending time with him before we leave this world. He is old and tired now, and just wants to be able to live his last years with us. We have a family of 14, all living around each other who would embrace and care for him. My husband and I go to see him when we can, but Florida is a long way from Pennsylvania. When we do see him, all we do is cry.

Harry has served 12 years of his sentence and is a model prisoner who doesn't have much longer to live. Society does not benefit by keeping an old man in jail for his remaining few years when there is family waiting to give him the love he never had.