(Editor’s note: The following letters represent the many, eloquent pleas for mercy which power TNC’s petition campaign, Jubilee Justice 2000. Ten-year-old Vanessa Reyes also wrote about her father in similar words as her sister as did Greg and Jesse Peck. Children and mothers of drug war prisoners are plainly the open heart of this campaign for presidential clemency.)
Dear Mr. President:
We are life long Democrats who appreciate the fine job you have done for our country and us. We are also the parents of a federal prisoner incarcerated in October 1992 after a drug conviction.
He was sentenced, I believe, as an ‘example’ of what not to do and sent to prison for twenty years. He must serve a minimum 85% of this sentence before any possible release since there is no parole authorized under federal law. He must serve 17 and 1/2 years before release.
Surely, Mr. President, you and I both know that a convicted person should serve time for the crime. But, to take two decades from an individual’s life just to ‘make an example’, just to make a statement, is very extreme. Our son, Daniel A. Reyes, was just starting out with his family as a single parent when he was ‘given’ that twenty years.
Daniel’s two daughters were two and three years old when their father was 28 and sent away. Now, eight years later, those girls are 10 and 11. They will each be over twenty years of age when their father is released. He will have lost their entire childhood. Twenty years away from family is just too long.
It seems to me that too often people who commit worse crimes than what my son did are released after only a few years. His family could even understand this sentence if our convicted son had prior, serious trouble with the law.
Ironically, our son had never been in trouble with the law prior to his conviction.
Therefore, for all these reasons mentioned we’re asking you, with help from your professional advisers, to look hard at the amount of time in prison those non-violent, federal offenders are serving.
Mr. President, this letter accompanies a formal petition (Jubilee Justice 2000) that has been signed by hundreds of citizens in our country who care like I do and, I hope, like you do. These mandatory sentences are only punishing the little guys and not the kingpins, who live free and rich on the hardships and losses of the little guy.
In closing, Mr. President, we beg you to take time to review these unjust laws and do something about making things right.
Thank you, and may God bless you, Osbelia Reyes
Dear Jesse and Greg,
I am sorry that you can’t be with your dad, and I’m also sorry that it took me so long to write to you. We hear from your dad a lot. As you can see when you read the paper, we have been working with a lot of children who can’t be with their dads. Some of them have mothers in prison. Here is a packet of Jubilee Justice Petitions. You can ask people to help you get your father home, and they will read and sign it. Children all over the country are doing this for their parents. I can not promise you that this will bring your daddy home, but I can promise that someday, if we all work hard doing things like this, these laws will change.
In this petition, we are asking the president to let your dad and lots of other moms and dads come home. I hope to be able to meet you boys someday soon. Write again soon, I promise not to take so long to write back.
To whom it may concern:
Hi. My name is Takara Kapral. My father had sent me some petitions to get signed. So I got 82 signatures. My father is serving a ten-year sentence at Fort Dix Prison in Fort Dix, NJ. So he has already served 5 of those 10 years and asked me to get the petitions signed, if not for him, maybe for someone else. Well, I am going to close now. If there is anything else I can do to help, please write me back.
Thank you, Takara Kapral
Ps: Can you keep me informed of all upcoming events?
Dear President Clinton,
I am sending this letter along with the petition for justice asking for your help. I am 17 years old and my dad is in prison. My little sister of 15, two little brothers of 14, and 11 year old and I have seen our father once in 10 years for the reason that he is so far away and we don’t have the money to travel acrossed the United States to see him. I realize that he committed a crime and did wrong because he was involved in selling drugs 10 years ago, but I strongly feel that prisoners who do good while serving their time in prison,who are non violent, and have served at least 5 years of their sentence deserve a chance to be with the families who need them again. My dad Jose Luis Reyes Received 30 years for drug dealing and I have heard of people who kill other people and get less time in prison and it doesn’t seem fair to me.
In this petition its asking you to help commute the sentences of all nonviolent federal prisoners who have served at least 5 years of their sentence and my dad has served 10. I pray to god that some one can help us, and I am coming to you for help. So if there is anything you can do I would appreciate it so much. Thank you for your concern.
Sincerely Patty Ojeda
I’m writing this letter to support my dad and to tell you that my family and I really need our dad I don’t know how to tell you in a way that you would understand how I feel am just going to tell you in a way I hope you’ll understand. My brothers and I and my sister haven’t seen our dad for a long time we have been through a lot of suffering and I think my dad deserves another chance. I know that you probably can’t even dedicate me a minute of your time but please, please help my dad you would be helping so many people I would give anything to have my dad by my side again.
Love Susan Reyes
Dear Mr. President:
Hi, this is Kristi Reyes from Oilton, TX. The reason I am writing is concerning my father Daniel A. Reyes. In 1992 I was only 3 years old and my sister 2 years of age. It has been 8 years since our father was taken away from us. Our grandparents have been taking care of us since then. I know that he did wrong, but they gave our father too many years. He did not kill anyone. When my teacher tells us to write what we did on our vacation, all my friends write how fun it was going fishing or camping with their fathers. When they share their papers about their fathers, it makes me feel very sad when they have something to say and I don’t. What all I can say is that we go see him, but it wasn’t the same. I would like him to see our childhood. That way I can experience what it is having a real father. What all I ask is please change the laws to help our father and other children’s fathers in the U.S. as well. Thank you for having the time to listen to my comments.
Kristi Reyes – 11 years old
Ps: I would like to hear from you if possible.