Shanita McKnight – 1st Offender – 20 years

Shanita McKnight – 1st Offender – 20 years


shanita-basketballName: Shanita McKnight
DOB: 4/22/73
Race: black
Martial status: married
Age: 43tracy-ward
Children: 2
State raised: SC
State charged: SC
Will release: Charlotte, NC
Charges: count 1 conspiracy to posses narcotics with the intent to distribute and count 2 extortion of a public employee
Sentence: 20 years
Served to date: 8
Started sentence on: 5-27-09
Priors: none
Prison conduct: stellar

Supporters: Family members, CAN-DO Foundation, Families for Justice as Healing, the LOHM,
Institution: Coleman

Shanita McKnight’s case was
covered by ABC News.

Please sign and share Shanita’s clemency petition on Change

Shanita and Tracy Ward

Shanita and cousin Tracy Wardy

Accomplishments: Algebra 1
Trauma in life workshop
Family day volunteer
12 classroom hours in excell
8 classroom hours in women’s health
12 classroom hours in creative writing
12 hours in French one
Completion of coming a woman of freedom
12 classroom hours in employability
Eight classroom hours in resume
Volunteer for black history month
Completion of full body workout
Core conditioning
Completion of wellness
Completion of parenting skills.
Completion of self development there are so many. Over 100 certificates.

According to Shanita: 
One of the happiest days of my life was my wedding day. I never thought that I would find a man who would love and accept me. I was big, considered to be ugly and dark-skinned. I wasn’t the kind of girl to have happily ever after endings. He made me the happiest that I had ever been. However, he has moved on; and I have only myself to blame.

At the moment my children are living in two separate states with different family members. These are the most important years of my daughter’s life. She was six years old when I went away. She is now 13 and I don’t want her to make the same mistakes I did. Both my son and daughter have endured unbearable pain. I have accepted full responsibility for my actions and know that I can be a productive citizen if given the chance. I have taken this time away to reflect and rehabilitate and I am confident that I will never make this mistake again. It is my desire to become a public speaker. I want to speak with young people and explain to them that all decisions albeit good or bad will have consequences. I want to use my life as an example for young women who face the same challenges that I once faced. I am truly sorry for my mistakes and would like to let the people of my community know that I am sorry for betraying their trust.

The last eight years of my life have been very tough. My actions hurt so many people. I uprooted the lives of my children and left my husband to raise them on his own. I hurt my community and bought shame on my family and my prior profession. Taken responsibility for my actions, attending weekly church services and forgiving myself for not loving me has help to sustain me through some of my roughest days. When I am finally home I will continue to do things. It is my prayer that President Obama and others will see that I am truly sorry for the hurt that I caused, the trust that I violated and the badged that I dishonored and grant me another chance to repair my life outside of these walls.

About the case: 

I am not the same person that I was eight years ago. When I was arrested and sentenced, I blamed everyone but myself. I did not accept responsibility for the choices that I made. All I could see was that I did not sell drugs and did not belong in prison. As a police officer, I should have never agreed to obtain licenses in my name for a night club where there was known drug involvement. My family needed it as a source of income so when they asked me; against my better judgement, I reluctantly agreed.

My aunt’s boyfriend was a known drug dealer and my aunt worked at the family business (night club) where illegal activity often ran rampant.
In December of 2004, my aunt’s boyfriend gave me $200.00 dollars as a Christmas gift for my children. On another occasion my aunt’s boyfriend gave me $40.00, which was change that was left over from a set of barstools that he purchased for the night club.
When questioned, by the authorities, I willingly volunteered this information.

My lawyer did not fully explain to me that I needed to plead to public corruption and have the other charges dropped. I thought that if I pled to one of them I was admitting to selling drugs. I was in Law Enforcement and honestly did not fully understand the extent of the charges against me. I took my chances and went to trial. I received 20 years. I thought that if I told the truth everything would be ok. It turns out that I was held responsible for conspiracy charges for a net-work of people that were selling and distributing crack-cocaine. Looking back, I should have pled guilty to corruption while in office. As a police officer, I took money from a known drug dealer and that was wrong.

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