Minnie Pearl Thomas – Serving Life – received CLEMENCY on 08/03/16

Minnie Thomas is #5 on the CAN-DO Top 25 Women was given the miracle of freedom on Aug 3, 2016 by President Obama.  

CAN-DO worked with Katina Smith to get a change.org petition up supporting her mother’s clemency. The Denver Post saw the petition and reported on it – read the article:  Demaryius Thomas’ mother petitions for early prison release of his grandmother  Please sign Katina’s petition on change.org seeking clemency for her mother so we can reunite this great family.

Minnie Pearl Thomas with Demaryius - Photo courtesy of Malik King

Minnie Pearl Thomas with Demaryius – Photo courtesy of Malik King

Minnie Pearl Thomas  #89378-020
Race: African American
Children: Daughter Katina Smith
Charges: Conspiracy to Distribute Crack Cocaine
Sentence: Life Without Parole
Sentenced: 2000
Incarcerated since: 2000
Served: 16 years
Priors: 2 drug related priors
Institution: Tallahassee FCI
Clemency: Petition pending

Minnie hopes that President Obama will have mercy on her, as he has with many others, mostly male applicants, who fell prey to the harsh crack cocaine laws and as he did with her daughter, Katina Smith.

The Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 implemented the initial disparity, reflecting Congress’s view that crack cocaine was a more dangerous and harmful drug than powder cocaine. In the decades since, extensive research by the United States Sentencing Commission and other experts has suggested that the differences between the effects of the two drugs are exaggerated and that the sentencing disparity is unwarranted. Further controversy surrounding the 100:1 ratio was a result of its description by some as being racially biased and contributing to a disproportionate number of African Americans being sentenced for crack cocaine offenses. Legislation to reduce the disparity has been introduced since the mid-1990s, culminating in the signing of the Fair Sentencing Act.

The Act has been described as improving the fairness of the federal criminal justice system, and prominent politicians and non-profit organizations have called for further reforms, such as making the law retroactive and completely eliminating of the disparity (i.e., enacting a 1:1 sentencing ratio).

Minnie Pearl and Katina Smith refused to cooperate and provide substantial assistance to the government and as a result, went to trial and therefore received harsh mandatory sentences based on all the drugs involved in a larger network of people.  Those who did cooperate and testified against Minnie and Katina received reduced sentences.

Minnie Pearl’s daughter, Katina Smith received clemency on July 13, along with 45 other prisoners who will have their sentences commuted on or around November 10, 2015.  Katina received an original sentence of more than 24 years after refusing to testify against her mother, Minnie Pearl Thomas, when they were convicted of drug trafficking.  Katina was able to release to a half-way house in Georgia in August 2015 – she is the mother of Denver Broncos Demaryius Thomas and Minnie Pearl is his grand moth and will, for the first time, get to attend one of Demaryius’s football games on Sunday when the Denver Broncos play against the Pittsburg Steelers.


Katina with Demaryius Photo courtesy of Malik King

Katina with Demaryius Photo courtesy of Malik King

Mother (and Grandmother cheer for Broncos’ Demaryius Thomas from behind bars: by Kimberly A Martin

Thomas’ mother, Katina Smith, and grandmother, Minnie Pearl Thomas, watched him grow up from afar, keeping tabs on his life and his four-year NFL career from inside Tallahassee’s Correctional Facility. Now both women will watch him play in the biggest game of his career: Super Bowl XLVIII.

Smith, 41, and Minnie Thomas, 57, have been incarcerated on drug-trafficking charges for half of Demaryius Thomas’ life. As a result, they’ve never seen him play football in person.

But both women tuned in to every Broncos game televised in the Florida correctional facility. And before every one of them, Smith constructed her own homemade “No. 88” jersey using tape to outline the numbers on the back of her T-shirt.

“All of the ladies have the T-shirts and watch me, so that’s special,” said Thomas, the Broncos’ No. 1 selection in the 2010 draft, who has tattoos that read “Family” and “First” on the inside of each biceps.

Before and after every game, Thomas waits for his phone to ring. Sometimes it’s Minnie Pearl Thomas, inmate No. 89378-020. But most often he hears the voice of his mother (who received clemency from Pres. Obama and has been released to a half-way house.

Their conversations usually last no more than three minutes, but their talks sustain him until their next chat and his next game.

“I can never call them,” said the Broncos’ 26-year-old receiver. “They have to call me.”

Thomas was 11 when police raided their Montrose, Ga., home just as he and his two younger sisters were about to start getting ready for school. His mother and grandmother were arrested on federal charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute crack cocaine and cocaine base, and his mother was sentenced to 20 years. His grandmother — who had two prior convictions for selling drugs — received a life sentence. The two have been incarcerated at the minimum-security women’s facility since 2000.

The bond between mother and son was especially tight, considering Demaryius Thomas’ father, Bobby, served in the U.S. Army for much of his childhood. But after his mother and grandmother were sent to prison, Thomas lived with his aunt, Shirley Brown, and her husband, James, a preacher, who enrolled him in sports and raised him in the church.

And his mother and grandmother have been cheering him on the entire time.  Although Katina is now building her life back again, her mother remains behind bars and it would be the best gift ever if all of them can be together for the holidays this coming December.

But that did not happen so CAN-DO continues to advocate for Minnie Pearl. We hope she will be released in 2016.

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