Equal Justice Matters Wall (G)

Stephanie George

George, Stephanie

Stephanie, a single mother of three, is serving life without parole for drugs her former boyfriend had stored in a lockbox in her attic and for her minor role in a crack cocaine conspiracy.
Samuel Gibson

Gibson, Samuel

Sentenced to LWOP in 1990 for an armed burglary that was committed in 1989, when he was 23 years old.
Oscar Giles

Giles, Oscar

Oscar, 64, is serving a life-without-parole sentence for an armed burglary committed when he was 29. He has been incarcerated for over three-and-a-half decades.
Ignatzio Giuliano

Giuliano, Ignatzio

Ignatzio, 78, has served more than two decades of a mandatory minimum LWOP sentence for conspiracy to distribute cocaine.
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Godbolt, Roderick

Sentenced to LWOP for stealing a car radio from a 1988 Nissan Stanza in January 2004.
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Graham, Donald

Sentenced to mandatory LWOP for nonviolent crack cocaine offenses when he was 30 years old.
Walter Gray

Gray, Walter

Serving LWOP for selling crack cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school zone, even though the “school building” was no longer being utilized as a school at the time of the crime.
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Green, Dale

Serving LWOP for his role as middleman in a sale of $20 worth of marijuana to an undercover deputy.
Teresa Griffin

Griffin, Teresa

Teresa was 26 when she was sentenced to spend the rest of her life in prison for conspiracy to possess and distribute cocaine for her role in a drug distribution operation masterminded by her drug-dealing boyfriend, the father of two of her children. She had no prior criminal record.
Stephanie George

Stephanie George


She received a mandatory LWOP sentence because of prior convictions for selling small amounts of crack cocaine several years earlier. George has never been accused of committing a violent crime.

Despite becoming pregnant with her first child during her senior year, George graduated from high school after her son’s birth. According to George, after high school she moved into her own apartment and entered into a series of relationships with men who sold crack cocaine. She soon had two more children, both of whom were fathered by men who sold drugs and were not involved in their children’s lives. Struggling to support her children, she worked a series of jobs as a sales clerk, receptionist, housekeeper at a hotel, patient assistant at two nursing homes, and beautician in her hometown of Pensacola, Florida.

A 23-year-old single mother struggling to support three young children on her salary, welfare, and food stamps, George says she became involved in her boyfriends’ criminal activities and sold crack in order to help pay the bills. According to George, these boyfriends used her home to store money and drugs, and she sometimes handled drugs and money and took messages for them. In October 1993, police arrested George when they found her sitting on the front porch of a house next to a bag containing cocaine residue; she confessed she had crack in her bra, turned it over to officers, and received probation. In November 1993, she was convicted of selling two crack rocks to a confidential informant for $120; in December, she and several co-defendants sold the confidential informant $40 of crack, and officers found four pieces of crack and drug paraphernalia in her home. George pleaded guilty to these state charges and was sentenced to nine months in a work-release program; she worked at a hair salon during the day and was imprisoned at the county jail at night.

Michael Dickey, the father of one of George’s children, was involved in selling drugs and imprisoned in the early 1990s for drug and firearm offenses. When he was released from prison in 1995, he resumed distributing crack cocaine. Shortly thereafter, in August 1996, police searched George’s apartment in Pensacola, Florida, with a warrant and found a safe in her attic containing 500 grams of cocaine and $13,710. In the bedroom, police found cooking utensils used to turn powder cocaine into crack. Dickey had the key to the safe and confessed the cocaine, money, and paraphernalia were his, and George adamantly insisted she had no idea the drugs were hidden in the attic of her home. At the time of her arrest, she reports she had no cash, no bank account, and no property other than her car.

At George’s jury trial, six cooperating witnesses, all of whom admitted they had sold large quantities of cocaine, testified that George was paid to store the cocaine in her apartment, was present during drug transactions conducted by Dickey and other drug dealers she had dated, and had delivered cash or crack for these boyfriends. Although George denied these uncorroborated accusations, she was convicted of conspiracy to possess crack cocaine with intent to distribute, and she was held accountable for the 500 grams of cocaine in the attic safe, 500 grams Dickey said he sold, and an additional 290 grams of crack based on the cooperating defendants’ historical testimony. George’s sentence was enhanced for obstruction of justice because she testified that she had no knowledge of and did not participate in Dickey’s drug activities.

Because of her 1993 minor drug offenses, George was categorized as a career criminal, which mandated a life-without-parole sentence—significantly longer prison time than her five co-defendants. Under mandatory sentencing, the judge was prohibited from considering 26-year-old George’s minor role in the conspiracy. Judge Roger Vinson told George at her sentencing hearing, “Even though you have been involved in drugs and drug dealing for a number of years…your role has basically been as a girlfriend and bag holder and money holder. So certainly, in my judgment, it doesn’t warrant a life sentence.” Unfortunately, Judge Vinson had no other choice. He told George, “I don’t really have any choice in the matter…. If there was some way I could give you something less than life I sure would do it, but I can’t. Unfortunately, my hands are tied I wish I had another alternative.”

In exchange for their testimony (termed “substantial assistance”), her co-defendants avoided mandatory sentences like George’s and instead each received reduced sentences of less than 15 years in prison. Although Dickey was the leader of the drug conspiracy and had a longer prison record, he was released from prison more than five years ago.

George’s children, who were ages four, six, and eight when she was incarcerated, are all now in their early 20s. She says that having her children grow up without her has been an “ordeal.” She says she talks to her children every Sunday and though her sister raised her children, she tries to parent from prison. “Trying to raise them from here is tough. My oldest son does the most crying, reaching out,” she says. “It’s a hurting thing for everybody.” She says she wishes she could return to guide her children through early adulthood and help raise her five young grandchildren, explaining, “I feel like if I was there, they would make better decisions about life. Even though they’re grown up, if I can get there, they will still have a chance to make it. That keeps me going, too; I pray and ask God to keep them safe until I can get there and help them out.”

George’s children desperately miss their mother. Her daughter, Kendra, says, “My mom has been incarcerated for 15 years of my life…I wasn’t able to get that motherly advice or lay my head in her lap when I was feeling hurt or sad. I wish she was around to talk with me, see me off to the prom, or come see me graduate from high school…I miss her so much.” Her youngest son, William George, said he misses his mother’s comfort: “It hurts me every day to wake up and not be able to see her Words can’t explain the hurt and pain I deal with day to day and how I truly miss her.” He added, “She has been away from me for too long and I need her more now than ever.” His mother was unable to help him, and William was murdered in October 2013. 

George, now a 43-year-old grandmother, has been imprisoned for 16 years. While in prison, she has earned more than 30 skills certificates, received a certificate in business administration and management, and has nearly completed an associate’s degree in business. She has taken numerous counseling and self-improvement classes addressing anger management, healthy relationships, drug abuse, and domestic violence. She says she has developed profound faith through weekly Bible study classes and church services. She says that she “want[s] more than anything to have the opportunity to be a part of the solution [rather] than the problem that plagues society.” To pay for her weekly calls to her children, which cost 23 cents a minute, she works two prison jobs: an eight-hour data processing job that pays 92 cents an hour and a four-hour overtime shift at a call center that provides directory assistance to phone companies.

Click here to view original ACLU article (Page 75).

*Stephanie’s sentence was ultimately commuted by President Obama after serving more than 17 years behind bars.


Gibson maintains that he is innocent of the crime, claiming that he was picking up breakfast for his diabetic aunt when the burglars gave him a ride to the store. According to Gibson, he was homeless and suffered from a drug addiction at the time. He says he had also been diagnosed with depression and worked as a high school janitor. Gibson was sentenced to LWOP under Florida’s habitual offender law because of his prior convictions for two burglaries and two grand thefts that he committed five months apart at age 17 and an armed robbery that he committed when he was 19. Now 47 years old, Gibson has been incarcerated for 24 years. Gibson spends his time attending church, singing in prison programs, and writing his own music.

Click here to view original ACLU article (Page 144).

Samuel Gibson

Samuel Gibson

Oscar Giles

Oscar Giles


At 3:30 a.m. on December 20, 1978, a week before turning 30, Giles reports he broke into a liquor store in Lakeland, Florida. According to Giles, no one was present during the break-in. He says that when officers arrived on the scene, he ran and was caught about 20 minutes later. According to Giles, officers found a gun on the ground about three blocks away from the store and attributed the gun to him; he says his fingerprints were not found on it. Giles told the ACLU he committed the burglary because he was “young and stupid.” He had a tenth-grade education and had been working as a laborer. He had one prior conviction for attempted burglary of an unoccupied building committed in July 1978 for which he received a five-year sentence.

In May 1979, Giles was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for the armed burglary of the liquor store, 15 years for possession of an illegal weapon, and five years for grand theft of over $300 but less than $20,000. When he heard the sentence, Giles said, “It felt like I had been sentenced to the electric chair.”

Since he was incarcerated 36 years ago, Giles says he has had only one visit. He hopes to be released from prison so that he can spend time with his 85-year-old mother before she dies. She lives in Alabama and is too old to visit him. It’s “tough and lonely” in prison, Giles says. “I been in prison for 36 years. Seems like I would get used to it. But that will never happen.” While in prison, he has taken life skills programs and participated in Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. He attends programs six nights a week and reads, exercises, and walks in his spare time. He told the ACLU, “I am older and wiser now, I am sorry for all the pain that I caused for my family…I just want to get out and do the right things.”

Click here to view original ACLU article (Page 119).


Born in Brooklyn and raised in Upstate New York, Giuliano worked in construction as a carpenter and painter. He later moved to Fort Lauderdale, where he raised his children and owned the Paddlewheel Queen, a paddleboat restaurant used for dinner cruises. He says he sought to obtain financing for the business through an additional investor, a former Pompano Beach nightclub owner who would later be declared the organizer, leader, and manager of the drug conspiracy for which Giuliano was later indicted.

Giuliano, then 55, was arrested in October 1990. He was one of 16 arrested as part of a large cocaine distribution conspiracy but only one of three to challenge the charges against him at trial. He was convicted of conspiracy to distribute and to possess with the intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine. The leader of the conspiracy testified against Giuliano and two co-defendants in exchange for a reduced sentence and was released from prison after only serving three years. According to Giuliano, he also was convicted on the basis of the testimony of a co-conspirator who, in exchange for his testimony that Giuliano was his personal contact for the purchase of cocaine, was permitted to retain properties that would have otherwise been seized by the government.

Giuliano was sentenced to life without parole in 1991. His sentence was enhanced to mandatory LWOP because he was classified as a career criminal on account of his prior convictions. He had four priors from 1977 and 1978 for possessing five grams of marijuana, delivery of marijuana and cocaine, conspiracy to delivery marijuana, and conspiracy to distribute and possess marijuana. From 1978 until his arrest in October of 1990, he had no arrests.

According to Giuliano, the prosecutor had offered a plea deal of five years, but his defense attorney at the time did not make him aware of the offer. Also unbeknownst to him, his defense attorney had a personal and business relationship with the co-defendant who testified against him. Giuliano appealed his conviction and sentence, but it was denied because he filed it 70 days late. His habeas corpus motion based on ineffective assistance of counsel was rejected as time-barred as well.

Giuliano has spent 23 years in prison. His health is in decline. Over the past two years, he has had multiple operations and experienced a health scare during which his glucose level plummeted and he nearly died. He takes 13 medications on a daily basis, his hearing is severely diminished, his vision is deteriorating, and he suffers from a form of skin cancer that keeps him indoors. He also suffers from blood pressure issues that cause him to lose consciousness. He says, “I am an old man now. I made mistakes in my life, but I am not a threat to society, and I begrudge no one. My co-defendants have been home for years. All I am asking is to be afforded the dignity to spend the last few years of my life with my family, and to die outside of prison.”

Giuliano is from a large, close-knit family that is eager to be reunited with him. He speaks with his two sisters, son, and daughter every Sunday. He lost both of his parents while in prison and has not seen his children in years. He explains of his children, “They love me and they want to visit, but I just cannot bear the thought of them seeing me like this.” He has not met his grandchildren. His daughter, Karen, said, “He needs to be with his family,” and his son, Joseph, wishes his father could “spend his remaining years with his family so that we can take care of him.” His children and two sisters all want him to move in with them to live out his remaining days.

The clinical director at the prison wrote that Giuliano should be released to home confinement because he has “worsening health issues related to his age,” which “will continue to worsen as he ages.” The clinical director described him as gentlemanly; with calm demeanor, solid integrity, respect for others, and commitment to the welfare of his family; and called him a “model mentor for younger inmates on the importance of living an honorable life.” Giuliano says he has never had a disciplinary incident report filed against him.

Giuliano’s co-defendant who also went to trial, Bill Westcott, was also sentenced to life without parole. Now 80 years old, Westcott requires a walker to move around and has limited mobility. He is suffering from cancer, which has required radiation treatment, and expects that he cannot live through another round of chemotherapy.

Click here to view original ACLU article (Page 174).

*Ignatzio’s sentence was ultimately commuted by President Obama after serving more than 25 years behind bars.

Ignatzio Giuliano

Ignatzio Giuliano

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Godbolt had been fixing and reselling radios and claimed that he had permission from the car owner’s cousin to take his car radio for repair and says he believed he was taking the cousin’s car radio, but had the wrong car. He testified that he was intoxicated at the time of the offense and later paid nearly $100 restitution to the owner of the radio. Godbolt was convicted of simple burglary and was initially sentenced to six years in prison, but was resentenced to LWOP as a habitual offender. He had previous convictions for distribution of cocaine in 1995, possession of cocaine in 1994, simple burglary of an inhabited dwelling in 1994, and distribution of cocaine in 1994 and 1993. The trial court never informed him of the one-year deadline to file a post-conviction appeal, and his applications for post-conviction relief were denied as too late. His subsequent habeas corpus petition was also denied as time-barred under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, which imposes a one-year deadline. Godbolt, who is Black, is 45 years old.

Click here to view original ACLU article (Page 120).


He was arrested in 2006 as part of a Northern Kentucky Drug Strike Force and Kenton County Police Department investigation, during which a confidential informant carried out six controlled buys of crack cocaine from Graham and two companions.

After a three-day trial, Graham was convicted of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute more than 50 grams of crack cocaine; crack cocaine distribution; and aiding and abetting distribution. His co-defendants, including the drug supplier who was the target of the operation, pleaded guilty and testified against him in exchange for reduced sentences. This testimony, and that of corroborating witnesses, was the only evidence of Graham’s involvement in the crime.

The judge used a nonviolent juvenile felony conviction for aggravated drug trafficking as the necessary third strike to sentence Graham to life without parole. The maximum sentence for his offense was 15 years without the habitual offender enhancement. The mandatory LWOP sentence did not take into account mitigating factors such as his mental illness. In 1995, when he was 17 years old, Graham had pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated drug trafficking under Ohio law and served one year in prison. The juvenile conviction and Graham’s only other prior conviction—for cocaine trafficking at age 19—occurred a decade before he was sentenced to LWOP.

Dissenting from the majority’s decision affirming the life sentence on appeal, Judge Gilbert S. Merritt of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals objected to the sentence:

[T]he sentencing of this nonviolent, 30-year-old petty drug trafficker to life imprisonment by using a juvenile conviction as a necessary third strike not only violates clear congressional intent…but also violates sound principles of penological policy based on the Eighth Amendment values recently outlined by the Supreme Court….

In what seems to me my colleagues’ strained effort to justify the life sentence in this case based on juvenile conduct, they take account of neither the well-established canons of statutory construction…nor the social consequences of what has only recently become conventional judicial behavior favoring long prison terms for nonviolent drug offenses.

Before his arrest, Graham worked at a cleaning service and delivered newspapers on the weekends. He has only a sixth-grade education and explains that it is “hard for me to read and understand some things.”

Graham, who is Black and 35 years old, says of his sentence, “[I]t still feels like I’m trapped in a burning fire. It hurts a lot.” He adds, “It’s like you’re nothing. Why should I want to live? I would rather [have] been sentenced to lethal injection, than suffer the way I am. If I did not care for my family I would ask to die, but I must keep my family together. I don’t want them to suffer any more than they already are.” He says that he struggles with suicidal feelings because of the hopelessness of his sentence: “It hurts, fighting myself each day to continue to allow the light of our Father shine upon me.” Graham told the ACLU he is sorry for letting his family down and asks for “one more chance at society.”

Click here to view original ACLU article (Page 149).

*Donald’s sentence was ultimately commuted by President Obama after serving more than 10 years behind bars.

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Walter Gray

Walter Gray


On September 4, 1990, when he was 27 years old, Gray sold three pieces of crack cocaine to an undercover police investigator for $60. The sale, which Gray said he participated in because he “felt that was the only way for me to get me some money,” occurred across from a former school. According to Gray and the superintendent of the school district, the building had not been used as a school for four or five years. However, Gray’s attorney did not investigate this or address it during his trial.

Gray, who is Black, was convicted of sale of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school zone and sentenced to life without parole under Florida’s habitual offender law in September 1991. He had previously been convicted of unarmed robbery in 1982 at age 18; failure to appear at age 19; conspiracy to sell or purchase cocaine, possession of cocaine, and sale or purchase of cocaine in 1986, when he was 23; and sale or purchase of cocaine in August 1990, at age 26.

Upon sentencing Gray to life, Judge Jack Singbush told him, “Mr. Gray, the Court takes no pleasure in this.” After the sentence was pronounced, Gray asked the court for an opportunity to see his family, with whom he had not been able to physically interact since he was incarcerated in county jail for the previous eight to nine months. Acknowledging that “I’m going to prison for the rest of my life,” Gray asked the court for a chance to “say last goodbye and touch their hand and say I love you.”

Now 49 years old, Gray has been in prison for 22 years. Gray, who had only an eighth-grade education prior to his incarceration, earned his GED in prison in 1996. He says he has been unable to take other courses, however, because of his life-without-parole sentence. Gray told the ACLU, “To receive a life sentence without parole is a death sentence; family and friend[s] forget you every year go[es] by.” According to Gray, being separated from friends and family makes him feel “empty, hurt, alone, [and] unloved.” He reports that he has changed and accepts responsibility for his actions, and if he were to be released, he says, he would stay out of trouble with the law and give back to the community. “After 22 years it’s hard to accept,” he said. “I come to realize how I change.”

Click here to view original ACLU article (Page 143).


In September 1999, an undercover agent for the narcotics division of the Caddo Parish Sheriff ’s Office was driving around near Keithville, Louisiana, when he saw Green on the side of the road and stopped. Green reportedly asked the undercover agent if he was looking for anything, and when the agent responded that he was looking for weed, Green agreed to take him where he could buy some. Green eventually found a young man to sell the agent a bag of marijuana worth $20. The agent paid Green $10 for his assistance. The agent’s vehicle was equipped with surveillance equipment, but the sound was not functioning and the surveillance video tape was of poor quality; the video does not capture the purchase of the marijuana. A day later, the agent identified Green, who was arrested in November 1999 after the undercover operation was completed.

Green was convicted of distribution of marijuana and sentenced to mandatory life without parole as a third-strike offender under Louisiana’s multiple offender law. He had two prior convictions; he had pleaded guilty to attempted possession of cocaine in 1990 and to simple robbery in 1991. According to Green, when he pleaded guilty to these prior charges, he was never informed of the nature or elements of the crimes, or that these convictions could be used to enhance his sentence under the multiple offender law if he committed subsequent offenses. Green had no lawyer to represent him on appeal, and he unsuccessfully tried to raise the claims that he had been entrapped and that there was insufficient evidence to convict him. Green, who is Black, is 54 years old and has served 13 years in prison.

Click here to view original ACLU article (Page 156).

*Dale’s sentence was ultimately commuted by President Obama after serving more than 15 years behind bars.

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Teresa Griffin

Teresa Griffin


Griffin was working for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and enrolled at Orlando College in Florida when she says her Colombian boyfriend forced her to quit her job, withdraw from college, and follow him to Texas. At the time, she was 21 years old and pregnant with her first child by him. She says that her boyfriend was extremely jealous and controlling, and that he forbid her to continue her studies or work. She describes her decision to follow her boyfriend to Houston, Texas, as a disaster. According to Griffin, he would take her car and disappear for days or weeks at a time, and he sporadically contributed only $100 and $200 at a time to the rent for the apartment she had leased in her name.

Griffin says that while she was still pregnant, she told him she was leaving him, but he hit her and threatened to kill her and take her two children from a previous relationship to Colombia if she left him. After the birth of their child, she recalls he continued to disappear for weeks at a time. She and her three young children survived on public assistance, and she started a data entry training program. She says she purchased a car for her boyfriend in her name so that she could keep a car to go to school and take the baby to the doctor.

One day, after the birth of their child, Griffin says her boyfriend called her to come to Oklahoma and pick up a television for him. She made the trip and brought the television back to Houston. A week later, he showed up in Houston and told her to rent an apartment in Oklahoma for him. According to Griffin, soon thereafter her boyfriend had her transporting drugs for him.

Griffin says her boyfriend repeatedly used her as a mule to transport drugs. She would take a bus from Houston to Oklahoma City, carrying packages of cocaine while her boyfriend flew to meet her there; after making the delivery, she would return home to her children the same day, and he would remain in Oklahoma to distribute the cocaine. She says he would pay her $1,000 for each trip; on one such trip, she found him in bed with another woman. According to Griffin, in Houston she frequently drove her boyfriend around after he lost his license, driving him to and from drug sales. She also used her credit card to pay for places for her boyfriend and his friends to stay.

Griffin recalls she began to fear for her and her children’s lives. She says that she became scared to sleep in her home because dealers close to her boyfriend, their girlfriends, and their children were being killed. After dropping her children off at school, she would drive around Houston to make sure no one was following her before she returned home. She says she finally told her boyfriend she was leaving him and returning to Florida, but he threatened to take her children to Colombia. She says she stayed in Houston because of this threats to her children. Her boyfriend then started having her fly or drive to him to pick up cash proceeds from his drug distribution activities.

In October 1991, Griffin was arrested after police officers apprehended her and a companion at the Oklahoma City airport with $38,500 of her boyfriend’s cash. She was seven months pregnant with her second child by her boyfriend. Upon questioning by police, who did not read her Miranda rights, she provided the officers with a detailed description of their drug-related activities and led them to her car, where approximately one-half pound of cocaine was found. She had never been arrested before.

According to Griffin, a federal prosecutor threatened that she would never see her children again if she did not testify against her boyfriend. She says she was afraid to testify against him, explaining, “I had kids and I was just scared. I didn’t want anybody hurting my family.” She says that her boyfriend threatened her from prison, threatening to send his cousin to her mother’s house to take her children to Colombia. She also says that she did not know the majority of her boyfriend’s co-conspirators, as her role in his operation was fairly limited and he conducted much of his drug-dealing out of town. Unwilling to testify against her boyfriend and unable to provide substantial assistance in the prosecution of his co-conspirators, Griffin opted to go to trial.

The trial court concluded that Griffin and her boyfriend managed a cocaine distribution ring, obtaining large amounts of cocaine in Houston and transporting the powder cocaine to Oklahoma City, where it was converted into crack for sale by resellers. The court found Griffin’s boyfriend had masterminded the entire operation. According to an FBI special agent, it was one of the largest cocaine distribution conspiracies in Oklahoma history. According to prosecutors, Griffin was responsible for getting “mules” to transport the cocaine from Houston to Oklahoma City, as well as heading the organization when her boyfriend was out of town. Though prosecutors referred to her boyfriend of about five years as her common-law husband and argued she ought to have had knowledge of all his activities, she says he had other girlfriends and they lived together sporadically.

Griffin was convicted of conspiracy to possess cocaine with intent to distribute, unlawful travel in interstate commerce with intent to carry on unlawful activity, and two counts of distribution of one kilogram of cocaine. The judge held her responsible for the conspiracy’s distribution of 34 kilograms of crack cocaine, while her boyfriend was held responsible for conspiring to distribute nearly 48 kilograms of crack; both claimed their activities were limited to powder cocaine.

On account of the quantity and type of drugs involved, and because the judge found Griffin to have held a leadership role in the conspiracy, she was sentenced to LWOP on the conspiracy charge, as well as two concurrent 280-month sentences and a 60-month sentence. The co-conspirators who testified against Griffin and her boyfriend in exchange for reduced sentences received sentences of five to 10 years, according to Griffin. She recalls that her father cried throughout her sentencing. Griffin says she was so distraught at her own sentencing that she did not fully understand what had happened until she was given an antipsychotic, anti-anxiety medication the next morning. She says, “Being sentenced to life without parole was like witnessing my own death. It’s an ache I can’t explain: feeling lonely and numb.”

Griffin, now 47, has served 22 years in prison and says she feels immense remorse for her actions. “I would give anything to turn back the hands of time. Just to be able to make different decisions,” she says. “I know I did something wrong, but not enough to take away my life.” She says that she feels constant sorrow, depression, and pain over her sentence.

While incarcerated, Griffin has earned a business certificate from Tallahassee Community College and works at the prison recreation center. She reports she remains close to her mother and four children, and she mourns her father’s death since she was incarcerated. According to Griffin, most devastating to her is that her children, who were ages seven months, four, six, and eight when she was incarcerated, have grown up without her and were raised instead by her aunt and mother. Griffin says one of her daughters was sexually abused in her aunt’s home, after which Griffin’s mother raised her daughters. Her son began acting out after her incarceration and has not visited her since he was 16 because he says he cannot handle visiting her in prison. Her youngest daughter, who was just an infant when she began her sentence, is now 21 and has a severe disability. “I have been cut off from my family by seeing my children grow through visitation,” Griffin told the ACLU. “It is devastating. ‘Cause I was always there with them every day…it’s hurt me because I missed out on a lot of their lives and I can’t make that up.”

Click here to view original ACLU article (Page 51).

*Teresa’s sentence was ultimately commuted by President Obama after serving more than 24 years behind bars.

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