“Even behind bars we can make a difference”
This coming election is very import-ant to each of us, even imprisoned. Men and women, it is highly important we take time to write, call or e-mail our family and friends of yours to make sure they are registered to vote this coming November 8th. I’ve been in Federal prison on a non-violent drug conspiracy charge 28 years and counting, and never got caught being in possession of a single grain of drugs of any type. We all must continue to support President Obama’s legacy which he is dedicated to and that is “Prison reform”, and disparities within the sentencing for federal crimes. Donald Trump has yet to make a statement on either, nor has he ad-dressed disparities or long sentences given to African Americans, mainly for non-violent drug charges or crimes that consist of no violence, in comparison to whites that are charged with the same crime or more serious crimes. Our punishments are always more severe then our counterparts. I am a Black man who awakes every morning to greet my fellow men, prisoners like myself who have been imprisoned for at least two decades.
The sad part is many of those I speak to will never get a second chance; they have life sentences for the very same charges that I mentioned in this article. I think its fair to say my entire jury reached a guilty verdict against me and others there in the Northern District of Florida Federal Court (Gainesville Division). The jury was all white. Furthermore, we must not forget the prime industry of that area is no doubt none other then the University of Florida.
Now looking back over the years, the jury situation there is obvious of the plan to find Rufus Rochelle, Terry Reed, and Willie Reed guilty on so called “ghost drugs”, which they did and held us responsible for 24 kilos of crack cocaine. The entire jury panel with about 70 people, would you believe only one of the jurors was Black, and we managed to get the older Black lady on our jury among the twelve members. Guess what? The second or third day of trial the only Black lady on the jury was taken off and the al-ternate juror that was white replaced her. This lead us to having an all white jury panel deciding our fate.
The Black lady was removed from the panel because when the U.S. Marshall’s brought us into the post office, where the court house was located, we were brought out on the elevator placed in handcuffs attached to chains around or waist and our legs shackled as if we were mass-murders. The Black lady happened to see us chained and cuffed when the elevator stopped on the second floor, as if it was a set-up to get her removed to replace her with an alternate juror. Upon bringing it to the attention of our judge, it worked. She was removed upon the Marshall’s statements to the Judge in the Northern District of Florida (Gainesville Division). The entire trial was a mess, with all statements against us coming from convicted felons who were all brought from prison, and never went in front of a grand jury testifying that they received a grain of drugs from either of us. Then all of a sudden at our trial 50 grams or more as stated in the indictment in which we were charged, on count one and count two, was going to be the media frenzy of the decades to come. It should be noted, various law enforcement and other officials alleged previously Rufus Rochelle, his co-defendant cousins Willie and Terry Reed had filtered drugs to the basketball players at the University of Florida. This was later determined to be a lie, when through a line up and questioning students and sources it was obvious that they had the wrong men in custody involving the University of Florida drug sandal. But sadly for Rufus, the Reed brothers, the damage had been done with all the media, newspapers, and the official of the court whom predetermined the media Rufus Rochelle, his cousins the Reed brothers, distributed 24 kilos of crack before either of us stepped foot in court the first time. We all were blasted through the media newspapers about the drugs being filtered to the basketball players in the University of Florida. Then apparently once it was determined they had the wrong guys, Rufus, Willie, and brother Terry Reed in custody, they authorities realized they made a “grave mistake”, with the wrong men in custody and importantly we wasn’t the guys Vernon Maxwell, who played for the Gators were alleging. They realized that civil action could follow and we no doubt was crucified by the media as being the ones.
Therefore, to keep any civil actions from transpiring and sweeping those allegations under the rug, DEA, assistant U.S. Attorney goes out to the prison and recruits guys to lie and gave them “sweetheart deals” by shaving years off their sentences. Now instead of the 50 grams or more we were charged on the indictment, I was sentenced for 24 kilos of crack, “ghost drugs”, and sentenced to 420 months, with no chance of parole. This is why I support Hillary Clinton to correct the injustice like the story you have just read with Rufus and others. I look for you to do the same this coming November 8th, Vote for Hillary.
Rufus Rochelle, #08628-017
Federal Correctional Complex –MED.
P.O. Box 1032
Coleman, Florida 33521-1032