Bernard Sherrill -- #11692-058

Life in Prison -- Drug Conspiracy

Bernard was a 25 year old working man with a partner and young son in 1995. Raised by his grandmother, he graduated from high school in 1988 with average grades, but outstanding citizenship and conduct. A star football player, Bernard received the Most Valuable Player award. He worked from the time he was 14 years old, never using drugs -- not even alcohol.

At the time of his arrest, Bernard was with the same manufacturing firm he'd began working for right after high school graduation -- Draymore Manufacturing.

"Back in 1995 I was indicted along with 20 other people in a drug conspiracy. I didn't know them. A Judge Gretchen C.F. Shappert took them at their word. I was arrested and within two months convicted. By autumn I was serving life without parole." Bernard wrote us.

There was no evidence that Bernard sold drugs, only the words of seven people who'd pled guilty and, to receive sentence reductions, had to testify against other people. The people that testified against him only said they sold Bernard drugs. They didn't say they sold drugs for Bernard, and their was no violence connected to Bernard, but they did say Bernard organized it.

There was no police testimony or investigation presented to the jury. There wasn't any physical evidence presented at trial.

There were no reliability hearings for the informants. There's no such thing in the federal and state criminal justice systems.

The informants? They received their rewards.

While people like Bernard Sherrill are separated from those they love, taxpayers pay the financial costs. Everyone suffers when justice is lost.

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For further information on the unreliable informant issue, please visit Unnecessary Evil, a project of the ACLU.