James Phillips -- 11085-058

34 Years -- Cocaine Conspiracy

James Phillips, prisoner of the drug war
My name is James Phillips. In 1995 I was sentenced to 34 years for Conspiracy to Distribute Cocaine, Possession of Cocaine with Intent to Sell, and Possession of a Firearm During and in Relation to a Drug Traffic Crime. I have no record of violence.

The 'War on Drugs' is not a war against drugs; it's a war against the people of the United States of America. I don't understand how a person can receive such a long sentence for such a small crime. I did commit a crime! I sold some drugs, but nothing like what I was accused of selling. I was made out to be a kingpin, when in all actuality I was only a small fish. I don't believe I'm actually being punished for the drugs as much as for my silence in the whole matter, and for not testifying for the government.

I have always worked or attended school. Most of the time I've done both. What really concerns me is how the system is so backwards. It's supposed to punish the kingpins instead of the little fish, but that's not what happens. Furthermore, we crucify drug dealers, but let child molesters and murderers get off with a slap on the wrist. Something's wrong with this picture! We need more treatment and rehabilitation programs, and there are practically none in the federal system. We have a drug class, and they say if you take it you can get up to one year off your sentence, but I've never heard of anyone getting their sentence reduced by more than six months. Besides, it's mostly for rats and informants.

This goes back to the Singleton controversy. Someone cannot offer or promise anything of value for your truthful testimony, except for the government which can offer you the most valuable thing of all: your freedom. I once thought our government was great and powerful. I almost went into the military to serve it-thank goodness I didn't. Now I only think of the government as a bunch of powerful crooks, because that's all they are! They can do whatever they want to whomever they want. It's one thing to have an informant testify, it's another thing to tell them what to say, just to give me more time. They couldn't give me time on my past record, because it's not bad enough to warrant any enhancements, so instead they raised the drug amount. They had people testifying against me that I didn't even know!

I wish I had known more about these drastic and draconian drug laws. Had I known I would have left the drug game and never looked back. The reason I don't have any children is that when I was sentenced to all this time the woman who was my fiancé at the time had a miscarriage and lost our son. I realize I must be punished for my crime, but why so much punishment for so little crime?

When the feds stopped me in Newton, North Carolina, I had 9.5 grams of cocaine in my front pocket (3.5g powder, 6g crack) and 2 grams of marijuana. All this will fit in the palm of your hand. When they stopped me in Charlotte, North Carolina, I was driving a friend (or, rather, someone I thought was a friend) home because she was too drunk to drive. They found 17.23 grams of crack and 23 grams of powder in the glove box of this woman's car and charged me with it. They searched me and found $480 (I had just gotten paid from work), two buds of marijuana, and rolling papers. They charged her $22,000 in taxes on the cocaine, but gave me the time for it.