Odel Stephens -- #22572-086

23 years - Crack Cocaine Conspiracy

Odel Stephens, prisoner of the drug war
Dear November Coalition:

I'm a 32-year-old male who has been in federal prison for the past 6 years for a nonviolent crack cocaine violation. With the disparity in the CRACK vs. POWDER cocaine sentencing laws, I was sentenced to 210 months. If the penalties for CRACK were equal with those of COCAINE my sentence would be a lot less. This sentence was based upon the court's findings that, at the time I was sentenced my base offence level under the sentencing guidelines was 40, which provides for a quantity of at least 5 KG but less than 15 KG of COCAINE BASE (CRACK.) The court then applied a 60 month term of imprisonment, under 18 U.S.C. 924 (c) to be served consecutive to the 210 month term of imprisonment on the drug counts, making it a total sentence of 270 months. Based on Bailey my 924 (c) was vacated. This was also based on the sentencing commission's lowering of the base offence levels, the drug quantity table being retroactive. My offence level was changed to 38. However the court applied an additional two-point enhancement for possession of the firearm vacated under Bailey, bringing me back up to 40 points, criminal history Category 1, 292 to 365 months with 3 points for acceptance, resulting in a final adjusted offence level of 37, or 210 to 262 months.

I have two young, poor, minority and fatherless sons who need me very much. My son Michael age 8 has to take medication regularly for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. When I was taken away from Michael he was 3 years old. My then wife was pregnant with my youngest son Odel Jr. age 5. Odel only knows me by photos and phone conversations. They are unable to visit me due to the fact that our government has me housed in a federal prison 2,000 miles away from them, something the government has done from day one. Each time I'm transferred I'm sent further away from them. I'm from Washington State, and there are no federal prisons in the State of Washington. The closest federal prison to Washington State that's not seriously overcrowded is in Taft, CA, and I've been denied the chance to go there.

And they say "The B.O.P. attempts to place inmates in institutions which are as near to there homes as possible" -- I can't tell, I'm 2,000 miles away from my sons. The only father figure they had was my father and he passed away on Aug. 7th 1997. I have 10 more years to do on this sentence, so my sons are in the inner city without a father. What are the chances of them growing up and becoming Doctors, Lawyers, or strong men with the proper guidance needed to become productive citizens in society. They already have 4 strikes against them, 1) Young 2) Poor 3) Minority 4) Fatherless. The government can keep their 3 strikes; maybe the government can use their 3 strikes for the little guys whose fathers are driving around in there BMWs and living in their yuppie condos. Darn, I forgot; the 3 strikes were made for Young Poor Minorities who don't have the proper guidance needed to become productive citizens in society.

There were 8 of us in this Conspiracy; only 2 are doing time. The other 6 who were caught with the DRUGS made deals with the government. They ratted me and my Little Brother out. Two of them did 60 months and the other 4 got no jail time at all, as I sit here in this prison and my Little Brother in another with a 30 year sentence.

The other 6 codefendants are home with their children. My co-defendants who testified on me testified about all the drugs they sold and possessed. The U.S. Attorney said I made introductions, making introductions got me 22.5 years under the Mandatory Minimum Provision with 5 years Supervised Release added. The U.S. Probation Officer, who did my P.S.I., told the court that it was his opinion that the guidelines and the sanctions I was facing are, by no means reflective of my involvement. But the government of our United States of America is not trying to hear anything anyone has to say unless it's a Rat's song and Dance.

On June 3, 1992 I was charged by indictment of multiple drug-related charges. A superseding indictment was filed on September, 9, 1992 charging me with Conspiracy to distribute Cocaine base, Possession with intent to distribute five grams or more of Cocaine base, possession with intent to distribute five hundred grams or more of a mixture or substance containing cocaine, and using or carrying a firearm during and in relationship to a drug trafficking crime.