On June 6, 2016, Families Against Mandatory Minimums (“FAMM”) held an event in the Dirksen Senate Office Building. The purpose of the event was to shine a light on those convicted of drug crimes. It was called Are all Drug Offenders Really Violent?: Hear Stories and Judge for Yourself. It was a truly remarkable and thought-provoking lecture that proved that incarcerating someone for drug offenses would ultimately do more harm than good. The three panelists were Debi Campbell, Sherman Chester, and Marcy Thompson.
Ms. Campbell sold some methamphetamine and spent 16 years in prison for the crime. She has four daughters, is a grandmother, and “has been drug-free for more than 20 years.” Ms. Thompson was not an offender, but she was a cousin of one and spoke on her cousin’s behalf. Ms. Thompson “maintained a deep relationship with [her cousin], Mandy, during her incarceration.”
The third speaker, Sherman Chester had a significantly impactful story, and he was able to tell it in such a sincere way. He described his life coming out of prison, as did the other panelists, and he even learned how to be an electrician while in prison. He received a “mandatory life without parole sentence for cocaine and heroin offenses,” and the judge in this case stated that “this man doesn’t deserve a life sentence, and there is no way that I can legally keep from giving it to him.” He talked about how drug sentencing laws have impacted his life and his testimony, as…