Amy Ralston Povah

24 years -- Ecstacy Conspiracy
November Coalition's Original story on Amy

Amy Ralston, prisoner of the drug war
Amy is a first-time, non-violent offender. In 1985 she married a 45-year-old Law graduate, a successful and well-respected businessman. Her husband, Charles, owned at least twelve different businesses and she worked in one for two and a half years. Amy said she had little knowledge of Charles' business dealings and he could have easily hidden illegal enterprises from her.

The couple separated in 1988 because of Charles' alcoholism. A year and a half later Charles was arrested in Germany for manufacturing and distributing MDMA (Ecstasy.) He was tried and convicted and sentenced to six years in German prison. The German authorities refused to extradite him to the U.S. for trial on the same drug charges because they argued it would be double jeopardy. During his trial in Germany, Amy went there several times to help him and received money on his behalf. Charles served four years of his sentence and is now free in Germany.

Amy Ralston, prisoner of the drug war
In the United States, Amy was questioned by the DEA and denied ever selling drugs. She also refused to testify against her husband or other codefendants because she didn't know anything. She was subsequently charged in the conspiracy to manufacture and import MDMA as well as a money laundering charge. Amy argues that she was a scapegoat for her husband's crimes since Charles was the most guilty and wanted person in the conspiracy and was out of reach in Germany.

Amy was labeled a leader or manager of the conspiracy and sentenced to a mandatory 24 years for the entire amount of MDMA involved in the conspiracy. Only two people testified that Amy was involved in the conspiracy and both received drastic reductions in their sentences. Both are free today.

Another issue to consider with this case is the fact that MDMA was deemed by a DEA Administrative Law Judge to be a Schedule III rather than a Schedule I drug (similar to steroids instead of cocaine, heroine, etc.) Francis L. Young decided this on May 22, 1986 but no action was taken as a result. To date MDMA has not been rescheduled. Had it been, Amy would not have received such a long sentence.

Amy is also featured in the Book Shattered Lives: Portraits From America's Drug War, from Human Rights 95.

Amy was released in 2000 by Presidential Clemency, and is the Founder and Director of the The Can-Do Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit foundation that advocates Clemency for All Non-violent Drug Offenders.