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Meet One Of The Thousands Of Drug Offenders Hoping Obama Will Shorten Their Prison Terms

Donel Clark was working at Dallas grocery store, supporting his wife and three young sons, when he took a more lucrative job as a “cook” in a friend’s kitchen, where the main ingredient was raw cocaine and the final product was crack. In 1994, when Clark was 29, a judge sentenced him to 30 years in prison for his participation in the business. Although the prosecutor later denounced the sentence as unduly harsh, the federal mandatory minimum drug laws left the judge no choice but to impose it.

Twenty years later, with 10 years of his sentence still ahead of him, Clark has reason to believe he may soon return home to his family. Last spring, in an unprecedented attempt to address the devastating effects of the severe drug laws of that era, the Obama administration announced a plan to free many of the thousands of federal prisoners serving time for nonviolent, low-level offenses. Clark, now 50, is one of thousands who have filed for clemency since then. With his spotless prison record, he meets the administration’s criteria. Here’s an account of his life in prison, in his words:

Arriving to Allenwood Federal Prison

It was late evening when the bus pulled into the prison complex in White Deer, Pennsylvania, and started dropping men off at the different facilities. The winter that year was brutal and there was snow knee-deep on the ground, something that I had never seen. I was nervous and on guard, not knowing what to expect inside.

I had never been to prison, but I knew people from the street who told stories of how to conduct yourself inside, or else people would see you as weak and prey upon you.




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3 thoughts on “Meet One Of The Thousands Of Drug Offenders Hoping Obama Will Shorten Their Prison Terms

  1. VNR

    Black people get out and vote, President Obama can not do it all by himself. People who have our interests at heart will have to be voted in to get those racists laws change.


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