Sharanda Jones made a poor decision. She was connected to a drug ring in Kaufman County, Texas and, in November 1997, was arrested along with dozens of others. This was her first arrest, and she was a nonviolent offender. She was charged by the federal prosecutors with six counts of possession with intent to distribute and conspiracy. In August 1999, Jones was acquitted of the six possession charges, but she was convicted on the conspiracy charge.
Sharanda Jones is currently serving a sentence of life without the possibility of parole at Carswell Federal Prison in Texas. Life without the possibility of parole is the second-harshest sentence our justice system can mete out, short only of the death penalty, and that not by much. What, you might ask yourself, did Sharanda Jones do to merit this sentence?\
Over at Red State, Leon H. Wolf introduces us to the heartbreaking case of Sharanda Jones, who is cooling her heels in a federal prison until she dies there.
In 1999, Jones was convicted of a single, non-violent drug offense involving crack cocaine. This conviction stemmed from her first ever arrest, and she was not even caught with crack in her possession....
Sharanda Jones — prisoner 33177-077 — struggled to describe the moment in 1999 when a federal judge sentenced her to life in prison after her conviction on a single cocaine offense.
She was a first-time, nonviolent offender.
“I was numb,” Jones said in an interview at the Carswell women’s prison here. “I was thinking about my baby. I thought it can’t be real life in prison.”
Sharanda's case is highlighted in the ACLU's new report "Living Death: Life without Parole for Nonviolent Offenses" authored by Jennifer Turner, human rights researcher. This comprehensive report not only discusses the outrageous statistics of those serving life in prison without parole for nonviolent offenses but also features personal stories of the human beings behind the numbers. Please visit www.aclu.org/livingdeath for more information regarding the ACLU's tremendous efforts to restore justice. Read the report here
Through the ACLU's revealing report (the first ever to document cases like these) and thousands of us raising our voices, we can shine a light on our broken criminal justice system - and urge President Obama to reverse his record. Please sign the ACLU's petition asking him to review the cases of the over 2,000 individuals sentenced to life without parole and consider reducing their sentences - a step towards restoring justice.
Democracy Now! Speaks with Jennifer Turner of the ACLU regarding the new report "Living Death: Life without Parole for Nonviolent Offenses". Watch this video to see the interview and hear Jennifer discuss Sharanda's case along with the many others who are serving virtual death sentences as nonviolent offenders.
So you’re a judge, and Sharanda P. Jones comes before you for sentencing for conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine.
She’s a 32-year-old mom with a 9-year-old daughter and no prior arrests, but she has been caught up in a drug sweep that has led to 105 arrests in her Texas town. Everyone arrested is black.
There are no drugs found on Jones, but her supposed co-conspirators testify against her in exchange for reduced sentences. The whole case is dubious, but she has been convicted. What’s your sentence?
Sharanda Purlette Jones is serving life without parole for her part in a crack-cocaine conspiracy based almost entirely on the testimony of her alleged co-conspirators. Jones was arrested as part of a drug task force operation in Terrell, Texas, that netted 105 people. Actor Chuck Norris, who at the time was a volunteer police officer for the Kaufman County Sheriff's Department, reportedly participated in some of the arrests.
"I will expire in the federal system," Jones told the ACLU of her sentence. It is really a slow death."