IF A NATIONS VALUES AND IDENITY WERE JUDGED BY ITS JUSTICE SYSTEM
WHAT WOULD OUR JUSTICE SYSTEM SAY ABOUT US AS A NATION ?
CRACK OPEN THE DOOR is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that fights for those who have been sentenced to Life without parole for nonviolent drug crimes in the federal system. CRACK OPEN THE DOOR advocates for federal sentencing reform, and to work as a voice for those who have fell victim to the War On Drugs. One of those voices belongs to Jason Hernandez 07056-078, sentenced to life in prison, who had the idea not to only help himself but all with life sentences for nonviolent drug crimes, and created CRACK OPEN THE DOOR. On December 19,2013 President Obama granted Jason clemency, he is now home with his family.
Jason Hernandez, age 35, and since the age of 21, has been in a federal prison serving life without parole for being the organizer of a drug conspiracy that did not involve weapons use, gang violence, share links to Mexico's drug cartels or other dangers typically associated with narcotics distribution.
Jason, a Mexican-American, was only 15 years old when be became a part of the conspiracy he is serving life without parole for. Prior to his involvement with drugs, Jason was viewed as a shy, quiet, and well mannered kid, it was not until Jason began high school that his life took a drastic turn for the worst. Wherein he began associating with the neighborhood drug dealers, and eventually became a dealer himself.
Though Jason takes full responsibility for his decisions he admits his brother (who was also involved in drugs, and has since passed away), whom he looked up to and admired, played a major factor in his decision to sell drugs. Jason, young and naive, quickly became allured by the fast life of the drug game. Added with the misconception that the only way to succeed in life was through drugs, as many young minority kids in low-income neighborhoods believe, he basically made a career out of drug dealing from the age of 15 to 20. Fortunately, after seeing the birth of his kid, Jason began to comprehend that he could not sell drugs forever, and looked into other methods of earning money legally.
Unfortunately, after attaining his 21st birthday, Jason was arrested for being the organizer of a drug conspiracy that involved marijuana and crack cocaine. There was no seizure of large amounts of cash, drugs, houses, cars or other valuable assets. Jason immediately sought to enter a guilty plea. However, the government advised him they would only allow him to plead guilty if he cooperated. He refused, proceeded to trial and was found guilty.
At sentencing the district judge commented that it was difficult for him to send someone as young as Jason to prison for the rest of his life, and that he had written Congress to change the disparity between powder and crack cocaine. The Court stated, however, because the Sentencing Guidelines were mandatory (and not advisory as they are now) he had not choice but to sentence Jason to life without parole.
Jason's supplier was also sentenced on the same day, but because the supplier was charged with powder cocaine and not crack cocaine (as Jason) he received a 12 year sentence. The supplier is home and free. On the other hand, Jason is about to begin his 15th straight year of imprisonment on a sentence of life without parole.
"I'm constantly asked do I regret not cooperating. And I tell them 'My mistake has nothing to do with not cooperating, my mistake was getting involved with drugs.' And I say this because I never realized the decisions I made at such a young age could have such a drastic impact, even to this date, on my family, friends, and my neighborhood. Cooperating could have never mended these wrongs. I deserve to be in prison. For the rest of my life? I'm in no position to say. I'm sure there are people who could argue either for or against my sentence. I can say for certain, however, that I am a changed man from that boy who was arrested 15 years ago. And I wish only to be given a second chance at life to raise my son (Estevan, age 15), be with my family, and give back to the community I took so much from." Jason Hernandez