Thomas Brown, Jr. -- #42134-061

19 Years -- Marijuana Conspiracy

Thomas Brown Jr., prisoner of the drug war
Greetings from Federal Prison!

Since coming to prison my daughter has been moved seven times, involving four different families in three states -­ Ohio, Oklahoma and most recently, Kansas. I lost count of all the schools. This mistake of mine has been devastating to her. The truth be known, this is the true crime I've committed. I didn't rape, rob or kill anyone. If I had, chances are I'd be home by now.

I need a chance to make up for my mistake, so do a lot of others. My name is Tom and I am one of thousands of first-time, nonviolent drug offenders wasting away in our nation's federal prisons. I've been down since August 8, 1994. My current out date is April 15, 2011.

When I came to federal prison I was 32 years old, an active single father and a house painter. My father, brother and I were indicted in 1993 on the charge of conspiracy with intent to possess or distribute 1,000 kilograms of marijuana. At the conclusion of our trial the judge instructed the jury to disregard the charged offense and only consider a measurable amount carries no more than a five year sentence. So the jury convicted us of conspiracy to possess or distribute a measurable amount of pot.

Thomas Brown Jr. with his family during prison visitation________Thomas Brown Jr. with his family during prison visitation
Thomas Brown Jr. with his family during prison visitation

At sentencing our judge enhanced our sentences beyond the five year maximum allowed by the jury's verdict. The U.S. Supreme Court has recently banned this sentencing practice used by our judge. You would think in America one could file for a new hearing due to this new decision. Well, you could for 220 years, until 1996 when Bill Clinton signed the AEDPA into law killing even more constitutional rights. Our founding fathers had it right by declaring, "Justice should know no time limit."

That is the way of the past now. After seven years behind the fence I've been moved to a minimum-security camp; a place with no fences, no walls, no locked doors and just two guards to watch 500 inmates. Obviously, I'm not a threat to society.

With ten years left on my sentence, wouldn't it make more sense to reinstate parole in the Federal prison system and allow me to serve the balance of my sentence back in the community supporting my daughter and paying taxes; thus saving the taxpayers $25,000 a year to keep a nonviolent offender in prison?

Thank you for listening and I welcome your letters and will answer any I receive.