#2 Michelle West – 1st Offender – Serving Life

#2 Michelle West – 1st Offender – Serving Life

Name: Michelle West 17809-039
Children: One daughter – Miquelle West
Race: Human
Grew up: Detroit, Michigan
Tried: Detroit, Michigan
Will Live: Los Angeles, CA
Charges: Count (2) Conspiracy to Distribute Controlled Substances, (3) Aiding & Abetting; Drug Related Murder (5) False Statements to Institution with Deposits Insured by the FDIC (6) Laundering of Monetary Instruments
Sentence: 2 Life plus 50 years
Time Served: 25 years this May
Sentenced: 6-15-94
Priors: None
Incidents: Staff characterization “role model” inmate.
Clemency status: I was appointed an attorney by CP14 on April 8. 2015.  Filed pro se and it was denied.
Prison Address: Michelle West 17809-039, FCI Dublin,  5701 8th St, Dublin, CA 94568
In the News: Journal Staff writer Tim Doran ended his article with, “…agents who raided the homes and offices never found drugs, paraphernalia or large amounts of money.”
Post sentence Letter from Judge Newblatt stating, “I have always hated the sentencing part of this position which forces me to deprive people of what is so important to me – – freedom.”
Media: 

Watch this 16 minute documentary by Revolt TV about Miquelle West’s quest to free her mother, Michelle West.

Photo of Michelle West with her Miquelle during happier times.

Photo of Michelle West with her Miquelle during happier times.

Recently, Michelle’s daughter, Miquelle West was interviewed by Fox 11 about her mother’s pending clemency petition. Please watch the interview that focuses on President Obama’s clemency project and why Miquelle West gives credit to her mother, Michelle for her successful career, working for Revolt TV; a fashion consultant and celebrity stylist.

Also, Michelle West’s story was just featured in Fusion magazine.  Read the whole story here:

Alex Izaguirre/Fusion

Alex Izaguirre/Fusion

Please sign Michelle West’s change.org petition and share with friends, so we can reunite Michelle with her daughter, Miquelle and let them begin a new chapter together – they have both suffered enough!

Beatrice Codianni marched in a rally protesting the expansion of prisons in Boston MA. Having served time with Michelle West spoke about her in Protesters call for abolishing prison systems  By Felicia Gans GLOBE CORRESPONDENT AUGUST 07, 2016

Michelle West was the main subject, featured in an article in Truth Out.org entitled: Mothers Serving Long-Term Drug Sentences Call for Clemency.

Accomplishments

  • Pre-Incarceration/Entrepreneur; Post-Incarceration/Marist College Certificate in Business Management with Legal Application; Naugatuck Community College (Starting Your Own Home Based Business or Small Business), Career Resource Tech Apprenticeship from U.S. Department of Labor; Advanced Computer Training; Spanish Level 1; Post-conviction rehabilitation includes numerous ACE certificates.
  • Philanthropic Efforts: Obtained Warden approval to organize fundraiser(s) for FAMM at F.C.I. Danbury; Facilitated the distribution of toys for the Sylent Heart Foundation 2014 Toy Drive for children with incarcerated parents; Provided weekly mentoring sessions for young adult inmates at F.C.I. Danbury.
  • In 2005, inmate West received a letter of commendation from an Associate Warden at FCI Danbury. It states that she assisted the Correctional Services Department during their Program Review and also during their American Correctional Association accreditation. “She performed at a high level and is a competent worker.”
  • Other BOP Staff members have written favorable statements about Michelle’s character:

I have dealt with inmate West for the past 11-years and she has always helped out even when she didn’t have to. She’s always been a “model inmate” and has always been more than just basically respectful. I wish all of our inmates were like her. E. Vermette, Cook Supervisor FCI Danbury

Inmate West over the past 15 years has always been a role model inmate. Inmate West has always been a team player when it comes to assisting multiple departments in preparation for sanitation inspections. Inmate West is always willing to help at a moments notice. L. Plourde, FCI Danbury

In Michelle’s words:

The War on Drugs is not simply a war on drugs, it’s a war on everyday citizens. As a result of this war the federal prison system has rose from 24,000 inmates in 1980 to 210,000 inmates, today. On May 3,1993, I became a prisoner of this war on drugs and I haven’t seen the light of day since. President Obama brought Bowe Bergdahl home. I am respectfully asking that he will allow me to return home through an act of “mercy” using his executive clemency power.

I am a first time offender with no prior arrests or convictions. The government offered me a plea of 20 years if I would cooperate.  I am a mother and had no choice (in my mind) but to go to trial for the sake of my daughter – plus I would have put her life in danger.

Michelle's daughter, Miquelle who is a fashion consultant.

Michelle’s daughter, fashion expert, Miquelle West.

I exercised my 6th Amendment right and went to trial. As a result, I was sentenced to 2 life sentences (5 years supervised release) plus 50 years because I would not become a government informant. After November 1, 1987, anyone sentenced in federal court no longer qualified for parole. So in reality, I was given a death sentence.

February 23, 1998, the jury selection process for the Eastern District of Michigan where I was indicted, tried, and convicted was ruled unconstitutional by the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. My appeal was DENIED.

Count Two: Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Substance. There were no drugs that could be attributed to me. The prosecutor used hearsay testimony from two informants to convince the judge that I should be sentenced to at least 500 kilo’s of cocaine. My attorney provided no defense. In 2000, Supreme Court decision Apprendi vs New Jersey held that any fact that increases the penalty for a crime beyond the prescribed statutory maximum must be submitted to a jury, and proved beyond a reasonable doubt. Apprendi is not applicable retroactively to cases on collateral review, so I could not appeal and my life sentence stands.

Count Three: Aiding and Abetting A Drug-Related Murder. I have never understood how I was charged with aiding & abetting when the actual murderer Edward Osborne was never charged with the killing of my god daughter’s father. He was given full immunity for testifying at my trial. I was implicated by him saying, I allegedly gave him $250.00 at the request of my codefendant which he used to rent a limousine to ride around the city looking for the victim. He was not in a limousine when the actual murder took place. The Court failed to respond to the jury’s specific request for an explanation of the meaning of a “drug” related murder.

Count Five and Six: I was charged with “Laundering of a Monetary Instrument” alleging the down payment $1,600 were drug proceeds. In reality, I had a letter for my defense from the car sales person stating that the down payment was from a “rebate”. My county jail cell was raided for 3 hours by government agents. I thought I was cleared of that count, only to learn four days before my trial that the indictment was amended to state that I was being charged for “car payments” in the amount of $2,514.40 based on the assumption the money was from drug proceeds. The car sales person testified to signing my name on the loan application that was taken over the phone from someone else. I was convicted of making False Statements to an Institution Insured by the FDIC. Both counts where the bank suffered no loss add up to 50 years.

Miquelle and her Grandmother Detroit Country Day School Circa 1993

Miquelle and her Grandmother
Detroit Country Day School Circa 1993

My mother, who passed away on August 25, 2010, had contacted then Attorney General Janet Reno’s office while I was going to trial. She told them that she felt foul play was going on. They instructed her to send them all the information that she had on my case via Federal Express. They promised to investigate. She followed their instructions. She never received a response.

Though serving more than two decades in prison has not been easy, I have let the late Nelson Mandela serve as my role model to do so with dignity. My record during my incarceration has been exemplary. A copy of my progress report, program certificates, and college transcript are available upon request. I am seeking supporters for my clemency petition to President Obama. Please help re-unite me with my daughter. It has been a long 21 years for both of us and we are tired of counting the years that are passing us by. We missed so many opportunities to be together, and yet, even prison has never jeopardized our special bond. We are very close and communicate almost daily. I am very proud of all that she has achieved in spite of the daily adversity with which she endures being separated from her mother.

To quote U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, ” A people confident in its laws and institutions should not be ashamed of mercy… A decent and free society, founded in respect for the individual, ought not run a system with a sign at the entrance for incarcerated people saying, ‘Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Enter Here’.” I will never stop having the “Audacity of Hope” that one day justice will prevail.

 

February 2015 issue of Linger Magazine.

Miquelle in February 2015 issue of Linger Magazine

Michelle’s daughter, Miquelle West is a successful fashion stylist living in Los Angeles and was recently featured in Linger Magazine. In the interview, Miquelle credits her strong bond with her mother as one of the sources she draws strength from.

“My mom was and still is a major influence in my life…She’s an inspiring woman, and she has supported me since I was a little girl. She’s an avid reader and studies the history of fashion, so she can assist me and support my career in fashion from where she is. She has helped me navigate through life.  I listen to her suggestions and directives.  I tell my friends, ‘Kris Jenner doesn’t have anything on my mother. The only difference is she’s incarcerated.’ She’s strong, opinionated, and a leader. She instilled values and principles in me at a very young age, I was taught to be a leader at all times. I am my mother’s main concern.  All of the sacrifices she made were for me. I always want my Mommy to feel proud of me.  When I accomplish something great, I know in my heart she sleeps better at night.”

Michelle West was featured in Humans of New York and is currently on the HONY homepage for Brandon’s “Inmate Stories” series.  Michelle is in a photo with her brother, instead of the original post because a prison guard (in the background) complained and asked that Brandon take down Michelle’s photo, even though no one could identify him.  He was a tiny brown blob.

Miquelle West was on the First Clemency and Criminal Justice Radiothon on June 17th, and was going to read a message from her mother but never got the opportunity, so the following is what Michelle West was going to say, if she were able to call in (the Institution denied her request) which is why Miquelle called in.

Only in America, a person like myself a first time offender has spent the last 23 years in prison for a violent crime and the person that committed the act of violence never served one day, because of this country’s conspiracy laws, that need to be abolished to make sure that everyone who commits a crime in this country serves his or her time.

The only way to end mass incarceration is to honor the memory of the late Congress woman Patsy Mink and reinstate parole. She died before she could achieve her goal to ensure that every federal inmate with the exception of those sentenced to life without parole were able to earn their freedom. Parole is not a get out of jail free card. It is the American thing to do because everyone deserves a second chance. My daughter deserves a second chance to have her mother return home not in a body bag. Under Patsy Mink’s bill, I would have been eligible for parole after serving 10 years. Everyday, I pray to receive an act of mercy from President Obama, a release date.