Pubdate: Fri, 02 Jan 2004
Source: News & Observer (NC)
Copyright: 2004 The News and Observer Publishing Company
Author: Michael Grimsley


The writer of a Dec. 1 People's Forum letter defended the
incarceration of those charged with possessing cocaine. She stated
that no one who has had a family member or loved one addicted to
cocaine or crack would want them to go unpunished. She should speak
for herself. The thousands of people who have loved ones serving large
amounts of time for very small amounts of cocaine and for petty crimes
that stem from trying to support their habits very much want to see
their loved ones come home.

I'm serving a 10-to-13 year sentence from which I entered a plea of
guilty to a tiny amount of cocaine and then was sentenced as a
habitual criminal. I've been incarcerated for almost four years now,
and I see guys coming in with convictions for rape, robbery and sex
acts with children and even little babies with less time than inmates
whose record clearly shows that this man was no more than a drug user
and has only committed petty crime.

The far more serious crimes need to be more the issue, because if a
man steals a pocketbook, the money and credit cards can be replaced;
if a man has a drug problem, he can be sent through treatment and
hopefully stay clean and sober; but if a man does 10, 15 or 20 years
in prison, those years can never be replaced. I'm not trying to
justify my wrongdoing or anybody else's, but it just seems only fair
that the time fit the crime. I still sit in here with more time than
some murderers and I have never committed a violent crime in my life.

Michael Grimsley


(The writer is an inmate at Pamlico Correctional Institution.)
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