Name: Anabel Valenzuela
Children: 2 sons, ages 11 and 12
Grew up: Born in Los Angeles but raised in Las Vegas since the age of 7.
Charge: Drug Conspiracy to distribute Methamphetamine and Money Laundering in the state of Hawaii. Never been to State of Hawaii not even on a vacation.
Went to trial: Hawaii
Sentence: 32 years
Served: 14 years
Accomplishments: I am a model inmate who contributes to this community. I am an ESL Tutor and Instruct Step Aerobics and Yoga Classes. I am involved with a Catholic Church community and am the volunteer with the services. I am one class away from completing my Associates of Arts Degree in Business.
Supporters: CAN-DO Foundation; Second Chances, family and friends.
Institution: FCI Dublin
Clemency status: Filed April 2016 -pending
According to Anabel:
I understand the collateral consequences drugs have on people and society. I acknowledge I deserved to go to prison for my actions and I deserved a substantial sentence. I make no excuses and I accept responsibility for my actions. I went to trial with my husband and was found guilty, and I also believe my sentence was enhanced because I went to trial. The disparity of the sentences between my co-defendants and myself is something to be noted. I’m confident you will find that my sentence is disproportionate to those of my co-defendants.
The reasoning for my request also includes that my belief of my institutional record, rehabilitative, and programming record in prison demonstrates that I have changed my way of thinking. As you will see from my education transcript, I have completed many courses and currently on the waiting list for Resolve Phase one and Foundation. I program and work hard to maintain a clear conduct record as I feel that my reputation should speak for itself. My recidivism risk assessment shows that I am at a LOW facility, and a minimum risk factor.
I was 23 years old at the time I was arrested and had no criminal history prior to this offense. I also believe my post sentencing conduct provides the most up to date picture of my history and characteristics. I have completed close to 2,000 hours of programming in over 70 classes. I have a minimum and non-violent disciplinary record. I have maintained close relationships with members of my family; my mother, father, children, brother and sister. I have also maintained relationships with members of my community who have also expressed a willingness to help me transition to life outside of prison.
I believe that the 14 years I have already served in prison has provided me with the time to reflect on the seriousness of my conduct and demonstrate the need for deterrence, public safety, and respect for the law. I am no longer a threat to society and by continuing to incarcerate me is not only disproportionate to the sentences of my co-defendants, but also other notorious drug organizations and violent king pins. I am a first time non violent offender with no prior criminal history.
I need to be a better person for my family as they are the most important in my life and my biggest motivation. I am lucky to have a family that supports me despite my mistakes. They have taken my two boys and raised them since they were 2 & 3; now they are 16 & 17. I can’t make up for the time I have lost but I pray and know I can be better.
I did not make the best choices in the past and they led me to prison. When I was sentenced at 24 to thirty-two years in prison, I was crushed. I felt like my life was over and since I have suffered many days of depression. Prison is not an easy environment to be in and can be very ugly at times. I think it must be in order to be punishment. With all this time to do, I could have taken a “what’s the point” attitude, but every day I fought hard to make some meaning of all this time imposed. I have tried every day to have a positive attitude despite prison being a negative environment.
I have the desire to make so much more of life, of my time; I have learned a lot about myself and life, and one thing I know for sure is that I never want to return to prison. I want to live a positive life and surround myself with good positive people. I do not want to cause my family any more pain, as they did nothing to deserve this.
I pray for the opportunity for a second chance, to right the wrongs. I’ve learned respect for the law, and realize that drug dealing destroys lives, mine included. I ask one thing: Do not think that just because time has passed that I now accept responsibility. This is the furthest from the truth. To be honest, I would have plead guilty, but the government wanted me to testify against my husband, and that was the hardest decision I had to face. I was scared and honestly, I never really realized how much trouble I was in. I couldn’t testify against my husband and therefore, went to trial.
Putting this in words is not easy. The only thing I can assure you of is I will never ever jeopardize my freedom again if I am able to have this second chance in life. I pray that after reading my petition, you will see that I am not a bad person, just someone who made a bad decision.
I thank you for your time in reading my story.