For the lack of a few dollars, a bunch of kids won’t even get a Christmas card from their Dads. These Dads are not lazy, shiftless, “dead-beat” dads. These Dads are men like Luke Scaramazzo, Bryan Epis, Dale Schafer, or Ricardo Montes, people who face decades in the Federal Prison system for medical marijuana. These people and many others
had the outraged audacity to challenge the government in jury trials and were severely punished for it. Now they are serving 20 years or more
because they grew or sold some cannabis.
As Luke, Bryan, Dale, and Ricardo settle into federal prison life, they will find out that it is much easier to keep body and soul together if you have a little cash
. Like anybody else, these people have families who miss them. It is prison policy to locate you as far from your family members as possible in order to increase the cost and complexity of visiting. Writing and phone calling are made equally difficult. The simple act of writing an old fashioned letter to your kids is not so simple in federal prison
. A creative per
son can beg, borrow, or steal the required materials of paper, pencil, envelope, and stamp but it is so much easier to be able to just order them from the prison store
. The prices are retail plus but it’s not like you have much choice. So you end up needing about twenty bucks a week to write a few letters. Phone calls are permitted but the per minute cost is expensive. As I recall, it cost something like 30 cents a minute with a $100 monthly limit. When I think of my current cell phone plan now at $35 a month for unlimited minutes, it makes me seethe at the gouging but they have you over a barrel and take full advantage.
When I first started growing weed on a professional level, it was over a decade and a half before medical marijuana even existed. One of the good things about those days was the complete lack of ambiguity. It was simply illegal to cultivate marijuana, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. That being the case, I made sure to make provisions if the stuff ever hit the fan. Bail, lawyer fees, living expenses for at least one year, and start up money was bundled up in cash and buried for years in a secret location. Eventually, the stuff did hit the fan and I was able to take care of my own expenses while I did my federal time on a plea deal. I was one of the few who always had enough stamps, phone time, and candy bars.
I was released a few years back and have been following the recent trials and tribulations of other people in trouble with the federal government. These post-medical, post-911 prisoners have a few things in common from my observation point. For the most part, they come from mainstream occupations and backgrounds. Lawyer, businessman, or doctor were typically their former callings. They are also at least two generations removed from my ’60s coming of age when I thought the feds were full of shit and no friend of mine. I still think it. Mainstream people are more ambiguous in their relationship to the government. Some actually believed that truth and justice always prevail in court. That is why they are doing 20 years and that is why they never had a plan for prison time. As a result, kids don’t hear from their dads for months for lack of a stamp. Spouses never hear their loved one’s voice because of payphones. Families don’t get to see mom [yes, there are female pot prisoners] for years because travel expenses are not in the family budget.
We at the Human Solution are appalled at this assault on blameless families. In an attempt to limit this tragic damage, we ask you to donate a few dollars directly to a cannabis prisoner so that he or she can make contact with their loved ones this holiday season. In prison, as little as $5 can make a big difference in a prisoner’s life. It makes it possible for them to write or call a loved one. It makes it possible to buy basic hygiene products like soap, toothbrushes, and razors. It makes it possible to stay healthy mentally and physically for a little while at a time. These people are in prison so that you can have the privilege of smoking safely at home.