Wesley A. Harris -- #146882

20 Years -- Crack Cocaine Conspiracy

Wesley A. Harris, prisoner of the drug war
I am writing with a desperate plea for help. For more than two years I have been living the pain of being an incarcerated man innocent of any crime. Welcome to Kentucky.

My nightmare began on September 3, 1999. I was the passenger in a car stopped for no valid reason. I was immediately handcuffed, and a search yielded nothing. The driver fled on foot after being searched and found with a large amount of cocaine base. He was never caught.

Eventually I was charged with trafficking in a controlled substance and possession of a gun. From that point on I was treated like a stray dog in an animal shelter. The arresting officers also told me that since I was black they would be believed no matter what I claimed. That proved to be true.

I was to be treated even worse in court; indicted by the grand jury on a dismissed charge that should have voided my indictment. I was then appointed a public defender whose first statement to me was that he "knew" I was going to prison.

In the months to come this man violated every personal right I am entitled to. He misled me to the nature of punishment on my charges as well as lying to me about plea bargains. After asking for another lawyer, the judge told me I had to take this man into trial -- motion denied. It was then, innocent or not, that I knew I was going to prison. From that point on this "public" lawyer only "defended" me when he wanted me to accept a plea bargain. I refused all of them. I was innocent and wanted a trial.

After the research I have now done, I can now tell you how much of the prosecutor's evidence was admissible in court. Next to zero! Perhaps that explains him opening my case file and showing it to another inmate, hoping he might talk me into a plea bargain. In fact, the arresting officers were caught trying to fake evidence on the stand and admitted to it. They even switched stories a few times. Then came more damaging testimony. A detective testifying as an expert - which is not admissible in court - looked at a Polaroid of me and stated that I looked like a drug dealer.

Since I only had $17.00 on me and no cell phone or pager, that only leaves one qualification, just as I was told in the police station. I was convicted because of my black skin. The judge even joined in when he made several minutes' worth of racist comments to my mother and little sister, one being, "All I see in front of me for crack cocaine is black people." What does he mean? Is that the only people he sends his officers after? Do I deserve to be in prison for just the color of my skin? I don't think that is what the legal system was meant for.


A Sad Day

By Curtistine Wilson, mother of a prisoner of the drug war

This is a very sad day for me. My son Wesley Harris is locked up behind bars in prison. My youngest son died Jan 15, l979. He would have been 23 years old today, just 1 1/2 years younger than Wesley.

Wesley wrote me today and sent some letters he wanted you to read. I thank you for answering his letters. He doesn't have anyone besides me, and people like you that write him. People forget about you when you get locked up or become sick.

Wesley was over-charged for his crime, even if he was guilty. It is bad to have so many people going to prison for such small crimes. I go to church every Sunday, and I just look around and about half of the people there have loved ones locked away. The Pastor of our church has two sons in prison. She won an award for trying to help people with long prison sentences. She's working trying to help these people, too.