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.

Edward Douglas’ mother holds an ironic memento from his baseball career
  • 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

 

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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.