America has relapsed on its addiction to incarceration. Too many people are in prison for too long. The Decarceration Collective has launched the #NoThreeStrikes! Campaign. Hundreds of men and women are serving mandatory federal life sentences under America’s Three Strikes Drug Law. For many, a life sentence was the first time they’d ever been to prison. That is the story of Edward Douglas.
Edward Douglas: A Life Sentence for Selling 140 Pellets of Crack
Edward Douglas was a champion semi-professional baseball player in the 1980’s. He loved America’s game of comebacks & second chances. But his life wasn’t like the game. Edward Douglas’ third strike damned him to a life sentence. Edward had never spent a day in prison before his mandatory life imprisonment. His crime: In 2001, Edward sold 140 pellet-sized crack rocks to a federal informant. Edward was sentenced under America’s Three Strikes Drug Law. That law gives a federal prosecutor – not the judge or jury – sole power to decide whether a person will spend the rest of their life in prison. Edward’s minor drug crimes sealed his fate.
- Strike 1: Edward’s first strike happened in 1989 when he possessed marijuana. He was sentenced to one year of probation and a small fine. Yes, you read that right: Fifteen years later, our government argued Edward’s late 1980’s weed possession justified his federal life sentence.
- Strike 2: Edward’s second strike happened in 1993 when he possessed a small amount of cocaine. He was again sentenced to one year of probation and a fine.
- Strike 3: Edward’s third strike was damning. In 2001, he sold 140 pellets of crack to a confidential informant. Federal prosecutors used the Federal Three Strikes Law and required the judge to sentence Edward to life in prison
America’s Three Strikes Drug Law has destroyed people, families, and communities. It is especially dangerous in the hands of an Administration allergic to racial justice and obsessed with law & order. Our #NoThreeStrikes! Campaign is a direct response to the Justice Department’s recent pro-prison policy that “prosecutors should charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense” even in nonviolent, low-level drug cases like Edward Douglas.
No person should be permanently banished without access to the courts and Constitution.
Know someone serving a federal life sentence? We want to hear from you.