Christine Taylor -- #04248-003

20 Years - Conspiracy to Manufacture Methamphetamine

Chrissy Taylor, prisoner of the drug war
I have been incarcerated since I was 19 years old. I am now 30. I was convicted for conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine and attempt to manufacture methamphetamine. I did not cooperate with the government, nor did I plead guilty.

When I was 19, my boyfriend asked me to go to a chemical store in Mobile, Alabama to pick up a shipment of chemicals. He assured me that the purchase and possession of these chemicals was legal and that I couldn't get into trouble. So I went to the store and bought them.

The DEA was working with the chemical store in a reverse-sting operation. The DEA sold me the chemicals and then arrested my boyfriend and me, not for possession or purchase, because to do one or both is not illegal. We were arrested for the intent to manufacture instead. My trial judge had never handled a federal trial, nor had my attorney or my co-defendant's attorney. The prosecutor had the upper hand and the experience that the rest lacked.

I was young, afraid and in a world of which I knew nothing. I didn't know about Federal Guidelines, Criminal History Points, Upper or Downward Departures, Plea Bargains, Appeals - Nothing! I went to trial, lost and was sentenced to 20 years. I was and still am devastated. I was a drug user - I admit that. I was not a "cook" or "trafficker", even if my co-defendant was.

I turned 20 in county jail, and every birthday after that has been 'celebrated' in prison. My whole young life was wasted, and I will be 36 years old before I'm eligible for a second chance. At the pace the world is developing - with cyberspace, the Internet - I have to admit it is intimidating to look into the future. The year 2006 is a Buck Rogers "out-date" to me.

I have seen so many harms done to women in prison, and it gets worse every year. We are demoralized and shamed almost daily by guards and prison administrators. BOP employees habitually think that just because we are in prison that we must also be stupid. We are stripped of our own individuality, just thrown together in a chaotic mass with a number.

Women come to prison with 20, 30, 40 years and even life sentences. I have several friends enduring life sentences with no "out-date" (day of release). These women are not KingPins or QueenPins! They were low-level dealers or their husbands or boyfriends were dealers, and some did not even know. The stories are so sad.

I have grown up in prison with these people. I've never been a violent person, but I have done more time than murderers. I have never owned a gun, but I do time with armed robbers. Underneath the hard shell that prison life has forced me to wear, inside me, there is still a hurt and scared little girl. I think of my family, also doing my time with me even though they are in the "free world". I am the only child in my family, but I can't go home.

As I write this letter, I am sitting in the SHU - Special Housing Unit. I was moved here because some women decided to stop eating. I think the women are just plain tired - tired of doing time while children, mothers and fathers are home missing and needing us. Women here are exhausted by petty rules created on a daily basis, rules that make our lives a little bit more miserable than the day before. We're tired of being stripped... just plain tired.