Please sign the online petition for Sharanda's sentence reduction at Change.org.

How You Can Help

Sharanda's petition for commutation of sentence is on file with the United States Department of Justice - Office of the Pardon Attorney.  A commutation is a reduction in the length of a sentence.  To get a commutation a petition must be filed – it is an administrative proceeding, not a court proceeding.  Since Sharanda was convicted in a federal court, she must request commutation from President Barack Obama by filing her petition with the Office of the Pardon Attorney.  Once her petition is submitted to the Office of the Pardon Attorney, it will be reviewed, and the Pardon Attorney will write a recommendation that President Obama either grant or deny the request.  That recommendation is forwarded to the Deputy Attorney General, who will review it and forward it to the White House, where President Obama and his attorneys will review it.  President Obama makes the final decision whether to grant or deny a commutation.  

To achieve this tremendous goal of obtaining a sentence commutation for Sharanda, we are asking that you write a letter of support for Sharanda to supplement her commutation petition package.  Your letter should be sent directly to the Office of the Pardon Attorney at 1425 New York Avenue, N.W., Suite 11000, Washington, D.C. 20530.  The more letters received – the more compelling Sharanda's petition.  Anyone who wants to write a letter should do so. 

It is our sincere hope that you support Sharanda's quest for freedom to ensure she does not spend the rest of her life in a federal prison as a first-time non-violent offender. 

SUPPORT LETTER FAQS

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WHO SHOULD THE LETTER BE ADDRESSED TO?

Your letter should be addressed to:

President Barack Obama
c/o Office of the Pardon Attorney
1425 New York Avenue, N.W.
Suite 11000
Washington, D.C.  20530

WHOSE NAME SHOULD I PUT IN THE GREETING LINE?

The greeting line should read: "Dear Mr. President:"

WHAT SHOULD BE IN MY LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT?

Your message to the president is critical to Sharanda's success.  Your letter should be no longer than 1-2 pages.  Below are examples of topics that you may wish to include in your letter.

  • What you have learned personally about Sharanda's story and her rehabilitation (please review the entire website for an in-depth look into Sharanda's story and rehabilitation).
  • Your belief that reuniting Sharanda with her daughter and offering her a second chance at life is important, worthwhile, and in line with your beliefs about mercy and forgiveness.
  • Sharanda's tremendous accomplishments related to self-improvement and personal growth in prison despite the fact of having a life sentence with no chance of parole.
    • Sharanda's good behavior, model inmate status and service to others in prison.
      • Sharanda's active participation in the SHARE Program, a program for at-risk teen-aged girls aimed at deterring them from a life of crime.
      • Sharanda's active participation in the Life Connection Program, a faith based program whose mission is to reduce recidivism and bring reconciliation to the community and the inmate through study of re-entry related subjects.
    • Sharanda's complete acceptance of responsibility for her crime and her incredible remorse and desire to give back to her community.
  • Sharanda's family's love and support for her.
  • The unfairness of Sharanda's sentence to life in prison as a first-time non-violent offender.
    • This was Sharanda's first and only conviction.  She had never even been arrested before.
    • Life with parole is the second most severe penalty permitted by law in America.
    • The judge had no choice but to give Sharanda a life sentence because the federal sentencing guidelines were mandatory at the time and not discretionary as they are today.
    • Sharanda's co-conspirators received much shorter sentences than she did.  Her "supplier" only received 19 years, even though he was more blameworthy for the crime.
    • No violence or threats of violence were involved in the offense.
  • The changing climate surrounding the sentencing disparity (difference) between powder cocaine and crack cocaine.
    • The federal sentencing scheme related to crack cocaine penalties has been publicly denounced by members of Congress since Sharanda's incarceration.
    • There have been paramount developments in Congress regarding equalizing the penalties related crack cocaine to the penalties related to powder cocaine – evidenced by not one, but two federal sentencing guideline adjustments in less than 5 years in the realm of crack cocaine that drastically reduce sentences for crack cocaine offenses.
  • Community support – Indicate whether you could offer support of:
    • Potential employment – if you can offer Sharanda a job, please say so.
    • Material support – any support that would ensure Sharanda and her daughter will be provided for materially, if necessary.
    • Spiritual support – express your unlimited spiritual support of Sharanda's continued rehabilitation.

It is very important that you DO NOT:

  • DO NOT argue that Sharanda is innocent of the crime.
  • DO NOT argue the facts of Sharanda's criminal case in your letter.
  • DO NOT speak ill of or insult the government or the justice system in any way

A request for a commutation is a request for mercy. Your letters must be compelling but respectful. We do not want to offend the president, the judge, or the prosecutor involved in Sharanda's case in any way. Be very polite in your letter.

WHEN SHOULD THE LETTER BE COMPLETED?

We are asking you to complete your letter by September 30, 2013 to be included in Sharanda's petition for commutation package. It can be typed or handwritten, as long as your handwriting is clear and readable.  Please note that letters may also be written after this date and will be submitted to the Office of the Pardon Attorney on an individual basis.

WHAT DO I DO WITH MY LETTER WHEN IT IS COMPLETE?

Once you have completed your letter, please send your support letter directly to:

Office of the Pardon Attorney

1425 New York Avenue, N.W., Suite 11000

Washington, D.C. 20530

 

SAMPLE LETTER OF SUPPORT FOR SHARANDA

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Below is a sample letter to help guide you in writing your own heartfelt letter of support. 

 

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[Date]

President Barack Obama
c/o Office of the Pardon Attorney
1425 New York Avenue, N.W.
Suite 11000
Washington, D.C.  20530

RE:  Commutation Petition of Sharanda Jones, #33177-077

Dear Mr. President:

On behalf of Sharanda Jones and her family, I humbly request that you grant Sharanda's request for commutation.  Sharanda is serving a life sentence with no chance of parole as a non-violent first-time offender for her participation in a conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine.  Since Sharanda has no chance of parole, she is set to die in prison for her first conviction – felony or otherwise.

[Insert your own thoughts about Sharanda's case here, or you can use a variation of the following language: [I learned about Sharanda's case through [my pastor, her lawyer, her family, her website, a friend] [I have known Sharanda since ___________] I feel that Sharanda is deserving of a second chance and forgiveness.  She fully accepts responsibility for her actions, has become a strong woman of faith, has an excellent behavioral record, and has served as a mentor to other inmates and at-risk youth through the SHARE Program while she has been in prison.  She has been rehabilitated and has a loving and supportive family and community waiting to help her if she is released.  Furthermore, her release is absolutely essential to her daughter.  Sharanda's daughter, who was only 8 years old when Sharanda was sent to prison, is now a 22-year old young adult woman.  She needs her mother now more than ever during these precious formative years of early adulthood.  The mother-daughter bond is invaluable and if Sharanda is release she will be able to resume an active, physical presence in her daughter's life.

[You can also insert a variation of one of the following paragraphs]

Life without parole is the second most severe penalty permitted by law in America.  This severe penalty should not be imposed on first-time non-violent drug offenders.  For nearly 25 years, Congress required federal courts to impose severe mandatory minimum sentences on crack cocaine offenders – mostly racial minorities – based on assumptions about crack cocaine now universally recognized to be unfounded.  Crack cocaine is without a doubt a terrible societal problem.  However, the involvement in drugs by a first-time non-violent offender should not constitute a life sentence in prison without the possibility of parole.

[or]

There have been paramount developments in Congress regarding the disparity in penalties related to powder cocaine and crack cocaine that tell us one thing – the crack cocaine penalties under which Sharanda was sentenced were unfair.  Sharanda's sentencing judge did not take into account the crack/powder disparity – a disparity that Congress and the United States Sentencing Commission have repeatedly attempted to resolve.  Sharanda has been sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole as first-time nonviolent offender under a sentencing scheme that has since been publicly denounced by members of Congress.  As the late Third Circuit Chief Judge Becker lyrically pointed out, "wisdom too often never comes and so one ought not to reject it merely because it comes too late." 

I respectfully ask you to let Sharanda go home.  She admits she broke the law and deserves to be punished, but a life sentence as a first-time non-violent offender is too long.  Sharanda has served over 14 years of her sentence and has been a model inmate.  Her drug supplier, who was more blameworthy and was involved with a much larger quantity of drugs than Sharanda, received a much shorter sentence as has already been released.  Sharanda's continued incarceration will cost taxpayers money that would be better spent on other things.  I support Sharanda's clemency request and respectfully ask you to show her mercy and let her go home to be reunited with one and only child.  She does not deserve to die in prison.  Thank you for considering my views.

Sincerely,

[Sign Your Full Name]
[Include Your Address]