CAN-DO thanks President Trump – Press Release – congrats to several of our clemency candidates!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Press Contact: Amy Ralston Povah, President, CANDO Foundation

Phone: 310.699.3357

Email: amypovah@gmail.com

Multiple CAN-DO Foundation-Supported Prisoners Granted Clemency by President Trump and a FULL PARDON for
CAN-DO’s President and founder – Amy Ralston Povah

Washington, D.C., January 20, 2021.  

The CAN-DO Foundation thanks President Trump for providing a second chance to numerous deserving individuals through the use of his Executive Clemency powers.  Many defendants that receive draconian sentences are individuals who exercised their Sixth Amendment right to a trial and suffered the trial penalty phase by receiving harsh mandatory sentences many times greater than if they had taken a plea.  These sentences were often based primarily on the testimony of other co-conspirators who received sentence reductions once they testified and were in many cases far more culpable.   Executive clemency represented the last hope for many of these individuals to have a second chance at life since (with limited exceptions) there is no federal parole.

In a show of mercy and compassion, President Donald J. Trump granted executive clemency to the following CAN-DO Foundation clemency petitioners.  Congratulations to: 

Michael Pelletier is a paraplegic who received a life sentence for marijuana.  Michael is 65 years old and lost the use of his legs at 11 years old in a accident on the family farm.  Amy Povah, President of the CAN-DO Foundation wrote Michael’s clemency petition during the Obama administration but his petition was one of thousands that remained pending in the Office of the Pardon Attorney. She is elated that his sentence has finally been commuted. He served over 14 years and will be reunited with his brother, Dave Pelletier, numerous other siblings and family members.  Michael is an amazing artist who will continue to pursue his artistic expressions through several mediums, and he yearns to go fishing.  Michael was also supported by Mission Green, Life for Pot, Freedom Fighters Forever, TAG, Deedee Kirkwood, his attorney Scott Hess, Last Prisoner Project and many others. 

David Barren, will have served nearly 13 years on a 30-year sentence for conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and money laundering.  David has been supported by his siblings, mother, and father, who are in their 80s, and Anrica Caldwell his fiancée who is also Vice President of the CAN-DO Foundation.  David received clemency from President Obama at the end of his presidential term in 2017, resulting in a sentence reduction from life to 30 years, with an outdate of 2034, which was a bittersweet victory, since most clemencies commute ones sentence to time served.  Fortunately, President Trump saw fit to give David a second clemency that restores his freedom.  David was also supported by Alice Johnson; Founder of TAG, Fighting 4 Freedom

Lavonne Roach is a Lakota Sioux Native American woman who is 56 years old and has served over 23 years on a 30 year sentence for non violent drug conspiracy charges. Lavonne has suffered the loss of both her father and mother during her incarceration.  She has 3 children and 8 grandchildren who love her dearly.  One daughter, Clarissa Brown, wrote and filed a compassionate release for her mother, Lavonne, which was recently granted, so either way, Lavonne hit a winning streak this week with news that opened two doors for her to walk through to gain her freedom.  She was also supported by Alice Marie Johnson, Fighting 4 Freedom, Ladies of Hope Ministries, (LOHM) NACDL. Attorney Jean Brandl was assigned by the Obama Clemency Project 2014, who wrote Lavonne’s clemency petition which was passed over, but was the basis for the petition granted by President Trump.  Her prosecutor, Mark Vargo, wrote a support letter for Lavonne’s clemency.  She will live with her daughter Clarissa Brown in California. She was also supported by Alice Johnson, and NACDL. 

Chalana McFarland has served nearly 16 years of a 30-year sentence for mortgage fraud related charges.  Ms. McFarland was transferred to home confinement for medical reasons under the BOP’s population reduction COVID initiative authorized by Attorney General William Barr.  Although released to home confinement, she was to serve the remaining 10 years of her sentence on home confinement or possibly face return to custody after the COVID crisis is abated.   The CAN-DO foundation has spearheaded the advocacy drive for her release as a first-time non-violent offender for nearly a decade.  Her petition was also additionally supported by Alice Johnson,(NACDL), ALEPH, Ladies of Hope Ministries (LOHM), Fighting4Freedom, Georgia State Representative Vernon Jones, Angela Stanton King, Alveda King and the American King Foundation.  Attorneys Lynn Fant Merritt, Cynthia Roseberry and Robert Kenner, Jr. have all advocated for Ms. McFarland as she fought for a well-deserved second chance. Ms. McFarland looks forward to a future in criminal justice advocacy and social justice reform.  She will reside in Atlanta, GA.

Jimmy Romans has served over 10 years on a 30-year sentence (previously reduced from life) for conspiracy to distribute marijuana.  January of 2020, CAN-DO submitted Jimmy Romans’ clemency petition to an informal White House committee where he was voted onto the top 30 list of  likely clemency candidates.  He will live in Avon, Indiana with his parents once released.  Jimmy has been supported by his amazing family that has fought long and hard to bring him home. Jimmy now “wants to focus on building a life that my family and children can be proud of. I want to take my children to places that I have been in the past and do things with them that I have fantasized about for many years, such as going to amusement parks, the beach, aquariums, camping, etc. I have dreams of working hard for 10-15 years. There are many things I have planned upon release but the most important is just simply spending time with my family.” Jimmy was supported by Mission Green, Freedom Grow Forever, Life for Pot, family and friends. 

Craig Cesal has served over 18 years of a 30 years sentence that was reduced from life.  Craig is currently on home confinement to protect him from Covid-19 in prison due to medical conditions that compromised his safety.  He has written Op Eds and other articles that have been published in several news outlets during his incarceration. His case was supported by Alice Johnson, Mission Green, Freedom Grow Forever, Life for Pot and Last Prisoner Project 

Ferrell Damon Scott‘s petition was granted in large part due to a letter from his former prosecutor, now Judge Sam Sheldon, who “Strongly does not believe that [Mr Scott} deserved a mandatory life sentence. Scott has served nearly 9 years on a life sentence and has a wonderful family waiting to reunite in Texas. CAN-DO assisted with this video which depicts the strong family ties Scott has with his family and children.

Adrianne Miller was serving a 15 year sentence for conspiracy to distribute meth. She has one of the most impressive rehabilitation records of anyone on the CAN-DO clemency list. She became addicted to meth which led her to engage in the drug world and land her in prison. Even Adrianne believes that prison is what she needed to overcome her addiction. She has worked extremely hard for this honor and deserves a second chance. She was also supported by Brett Tollman and Alice Johnson.

Michael Harris, aka “Harry-O” was serving almost 20 years after serving time for a state case, that was eventually overturned. He has had a fascinating life with a strong interest in theater early on. (see bio)

While at San Quentin I was trained in the art and style of journalistic writing by a team of top-notch retired professional newspaper journalists, who also assisted me along with a selected group of prisoners, to bring the “San Quentin News” out of a twenty-year hiatus. I served as editor-in-chief from 2008-2011, helping to make it the #1 prisoner-produced newspaper in the world. (www.sanquentinnews.com).

 In addition to my work on the newspaper, throughout my prison experience, I have taken creative and screenwriting classes, and penned two short stories, “Nightmares and Daydreams,” and “Motherland 2035,” for the book series “Brothers in Pen.” Michael’s petition was championed by Weldon Angelos, Alice Johnson and Snoop Dogg.

Amy Ralston Povah is a clemency recipient under President Clinton, an award winning filmmaker, and founder of the CAN-DO Foundation.