Welcome to Sharanda Jones
A Letter from Sharanda
I am Sharanda Jones – a first-time non-violent offender serving a life sentence in a federal prison without any chance of parole. After a jury trial in August of 1999, I was convicted of one count of conspiracy to distribute cocaine base (crack-cocaine) and acquitted of six counts of possession of crack cocaine and aiding and abetting.
I grew up in poverty in the small rural town of Terrell, Texas. My mother was paraplegic as the result of a horrific car accident that occurred when I was only 3 years old. Due to my mother's severe health condition, I was forced at a young age to take on a motherly role to help take care of my younger siblings. Life was very difficult financially. In an attempt to overcome the hardships that accompany poverty, I made a bad decision and began dealing drugs out of desperation to be able to sufficiently support myself and my family. Before incarceration I was ignorant to the harm that drugs inflicted on drug users and their families. I now understand to the fullest level the destruction caused by drugs. I take full responsibility for my actions and know that I deserve to be punished for being involved with dealing drugs and having such a negative impact on the community. But for the rest of my life for my first ever arrest and conviction? I do not deserve to die in prison.
I have now been incarcerated over 15 years. With a life sentence, I am set to die in prison for my very first conviction – a non-violent drug offense. I had never even been arrested before. But I believe in God and all that He set before me. I keep the faith because I believe my lowest moments are my best moments knowing that during those low moments I am growing in strength and compassion. I am a model inmate and I know that I am rehabilitated. Prison has given me so much time to think and reflect on the actions that landed me here. When I first came to prison I told myself "you can be bitter or you can be better." Even though I face the harsh reality of never reintegrating into society, I am not bitter because I hold onto hope. I am determined not to let my current natural life sentence establish my fate. I have maintained a positive attitude and have been working meticulously on personal growth and development. I have been on a self-improvement track since the beginning of my incarceration over 15 years ago in 1999.
My deepest sorrow is being separated from my only child, Clenesha. Clenesha was only 8 years old when I left her. She is now a beautiful 23-year old woman. During my 15-plus years of incarceration I have missed many key events of her life and I truly regret it. For example, I was devastated that I was unable to attend the high school graduation of my only child. Clenesha and I have a very close relationship considering my circumstances. Her visits, letters and just overall encouragement and support are about the only things that get me through each day. I love my daughter dearly. It is my daily prayer that I am released soon in order to resume an active physical presence in my daughter's life to strengthen the invaluable mother-daughter bond and to instill in her a sense of hope for the future.
I pray that I am released from here so that I can use my experience to help others. It is my dream to be able to give back to the community that my involvement in drugs took so much from. If ever released, I desire to work with children and adults to lecture them on the problems of drugs and crime. I believe I am uniquely qualified for this mission and believe that children and adults will listen to someone who has experienced the life I have in prison. I have suffered immensely from my conviction and life sentence, along with my family and my daughter but I know that I will be able to use my struggles and the invaluable lessons I have learned about the consequences of drugs and crime to deter others.
Please support my petition for commutation (reduction) of my life sentence. I have utilized the past 15 years constructively and dream of the opportunity to prove to society that I learned from my mistakes. I pray that you help me realize my dreams. Please support my petition so that I am given a chance to reintegrate into society as a productive, law-abiding citizen. Without your help I will spend the rest of my life in a federal prison as a first-time non-violent offender.
A Letter from Sharanda's daughter
Federal inmate #33177-077 also known as my mother, Sharanda Jones. My name is Clenesha Garland and over 15 years ago, my mother began serving a life sentence with no chance of parole as a first-time non-violent offender. I was 8 years old at the time and my world as I knew it was shattered. Although I didn't understand then that my mother may never be released from prison because she was sentenced to life, I did know that my sunshine was gone. I am now 23-years old and I fully grasp the fact that my mother is set to die in prison for the first crime she ever committed – a non-violent drug crime. I cannot even formulate the right words to express the pain I have felt daily since coming to that harsh realization. I know that my mother committed a crime and that she has to pay for her actions. However, after over 15 years I feel she has more than paid the price for her crime. My mother does not deserve to come out of prison in a casket. Throughout my life I have seen and/or read news stories about several people who have committed horrendous, violent crimes go to prison after my mother and have already been released. Yet, my mother remains in prison with a life sentence. I honestly believe that she has earned a second chance to live a free life. One mistake should not cost my mother her life.
To me, Sharanda Jones is more than an 8-digit federal inmate number – she is my mother. I am her only child and I describe the journey of my life thus far as being physically separated but spiritually connected to my mother. The 8 years I had growing up living with my mother was a definite gift from God. I miss my mother dearly. Even as a young adult it is very difficult for me to fight back my emotions during visits and phone calls with my mother. She knows she is set to die in prison but her faith is immeasurable. She holds her head high and still tries her best to excel at every task she is given. She continues to grow while behind bars and focuses on self-improvement daily. It is impossible for some people in her situation to stay on a positive path but she smiles despite carrying the burden of such an excessive sentence. I commend her strength! I think of her everyday and am in awe of her ability to persevere. I will continue to support my mother and trust that our government will protect us from the malicious and reconsider the rehabilitated, giving people like me a fair chance to be reconnected with their mothers.
Being without my mother for over 15 years of my life has been extremely difficult. But the thought that she is set to spend the rest of her life in prison as a first-time non-violent offender is absolutely devastating. Please support my mother's petition for commutation (reduction) of her sentence. All I pray for everyday is the blessing of being able to spend my life with my mother outside of prison walls.