Doug Jones -- #162697

I am doing 101 years for a used syringe.

Doug Jones, prisoner of the drug warMy wife and our neighbor went to California to buy a quarter-pound of meth. When they returned home the police were waiting for them. They were busted and charged with trafficking.

The police searched our house, but all they found was a used syringe in a wicker basket on top of my wife's dresser. They sent this syringe to the lab; it tested positive for amphetamines, and prosecutors charged me with possession.

The court offered me ten years. I refused, demanded a jury trial, and my wife testified against me. She did testify that it was her syringe and her dresser, but she also said that I sent her to buy the dope, and that I intended to sell some of it. That's only half-true. I intended to sell just enough to get our money back. She spent the money on dope that was supposed to be for a family trip to Disney World with our daughter. We intended to use the rest for personal consumption. As for me sending her to buy it, that's not true. She went because she wanted to go, and it was easier for her to take four days off from work. She took her car and her paycheck. She wanted the drug just the same as I did.

She also testified against our neighbor. I'm not sure what kind of sentence our neighbor got, but I do know she was home by Christmas 2000. I'm glad she is home with her family. I received101 years for possession. My wife's trafficking charge was completely dropped in exchange for her testimony. For what it's worth, I didn't want the mother of my child to go to prison anymore than she wanted to go, herself. I'm not saying that I'm a saint, but I do not deserve 101 years in prison for a used syringe that my wife had hidden away.

The prosecution said the syringe had a very small amount of liquid in it. My defense attorney said it was trace amounts. The lab tech did a methanol rinse on the syringe and then tested the methanol for amphetamine. He was unable to determine the quantity, just the presence of amphetamine. For this I received 101 years.

My first jury trial was a mistrial on the judge's error. My attorney failed to file a Jeopardy Motion in a timely manner, and so they took me across the hall to a different judge where I was given my life sentence. I've filed and lost two appeals in Oklahoma Appeals Court, U.S. Supreme Court, State Post Conviction, State Appeals, Federal District and Federal Circuit Court. That's two jury trials and six appeals. I've been fighting this for six and a half years, the last five and a half away from my child and family. My child is growing up without me, and I'm sick of it.

Thankfully, the parole board did the right thing by cutting my sentence to 25 years in 2000, and I do sincerely thank them for that.

I believe that in our free United States, the most powerful and prosperous country in the world, a person should be able to spend his or her hard-earned money any way they choose. That includes the decision to use certain drugs. Our Constitution asserts the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness so long as we don't infringe on the rights and privacy of others. I also believe that the U.S. war on drugs is nothing more than a war on America's poor people. God bless all the people fighting to put an end to this war.

Sincerely yours, Doug Jones