Becky Stewart -- #34290-080

18 Years -- Drug Conspiracy

Becky Stewart, prisoner of the drug war
Dear Judge,

Will you be spending Christmas with your family and loved ones this year? Will there be lots of Christmas presents under a bright adorned tree? I will not be spending Christmas with my family this year, nor will there be lots of presents under a bright adorned tree . . . for you gave me an 18 year sentence which means I will spend 15 Christmases away from my family and home - because under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines -- there is no such thing as parole anymore. I, along with thousands of other nonviolent drug offenders, will do 85% of our time here in prison and most of us - we will be far away from home.

Do you know what it's like here in prison and what one of our days consist of? You wake up in the mornings and ask God to give you strength to make it through another day, for you do not know what it may bring. You just hope that when you call home, one of your loved ones is not sick, or worse yet have not passed away. There's such a feeling of hopelessness when you call home and listen to the family's troubles - knowing that if only you were there - you could help in some small way. Our families suffer too . . . wanting always to know when we are coming home . . . what, if anything they can do to help to expedite our returning to them . . . knowing that when they ask, there is nothing they can do.

Due to new federal laws, our appeal rights have been seriously curbed and the expense of lawyers, many of us can not afford, for most of us are middle or lower class, you do not often see the rich and famous in here . . . very rarely.

Isn't O.J. Simpson the classic example? As are Koon and Powell, the policemen who were given downward departures in the Rodney King beating? They were given a 30 month reduced sentence for beating a man and caught red-handed at that on videotape, and yet we, who have not beaten anyone, nor killed anyone, are given 10, 15, 18, to 30 years imprisonment for drug offenses where there is no violence whatsoever.

I do not have children who wait on my return. The dream was extinguished when you gave me my 18 year sentence for I will be too old when I am released. Maybe I am fortunate that I do not have a child because I see the anguish and tears of mothers watching their children from afar, growing up without them . . . crying after they speak with them on the telephone. Most of them know that they have become just a voice on the other end of the telephone . . . a voice that a child calls mommy in name only . . . for the years being separated puts a distance between them. The clique that "time" only makes the heart grow fonder, does not apply in prison. The song . . . "time goes by slowly, and time can do so much" more aptly describes it. We are given so much time that we are the forgotten ones, destined to become just the number you gave me #34290-080, instead of calling us by name ...

In here we are called by our last names or our federal prison numbers, gone our the given names. But there are a few who still remember our names, the names given to us at birth - loved ones whom still miss us as deeply as we miss them.

I do not have children waiting for me, but I do still have family and my 88 year old grandfather. Legally, he is my father, he adopted me when I was four years old, and is the best father anyone could ask for. He has always been there for me, as a child, through my teens, and the many mistakes we all make trying to be an adult. My one and only dream now is to be there for him when he needs me. My grandfather lives alone and has no one there to care for him. He has suffered a heart attack and now has a pace maker.

To make matters worse, a couple of months ago, he fell down and now requires a wheelchair. An agency sends someone to check on him 3 times a week . . . taking his vitals and such ... but my "papa" (I have called him that since I was a little girl) requires full time care now. We tried a live-in companion but it did not work out. People tend to take advantage of our older generation. On time I called home to find out the "companion" had left a heating pad on my grandfather. It had been set too high and burned his legs badly. My heart cried out with pain and such a feeling of hopelessness and guilt because I know that if I were there, no such incidents would occur.

My grandfather asks me every year, "When are you coming home?" He knows I'm not a vicious criminal and has a hard time understanding why I was given such a long prison sentence. Every year, especially at Christmas, he will ask the inevitable question . . . "Will you be here this year?" And every year I will tell him, "Soon . . ." We both know in our hearts it is not to be.

So Judge, when you're spending Christmas with your family and loved ones this year with lots of Christmas presents under your bright adorned tree . . think of my grandfather who sits alone and waits for me ...

Merry Christmas Judge.

Inmate Stewart, #34290-080

P.S. My drug violation was a non-violent offense based upon a "Conspiracy" charge. A conspiracy to manufacture where there was no lab, no lab equipment, nor chemicals found in my possession. All co-conspirators (except for the one who was facing a life sentence) told the truth and said there was no agreement or thought of manufacturing drugs, but because the DEA "believed" we were "going" to set up a lab, I was convicted of a conspiracy.