Highlighting injustice and discrimination is crucial. It serves as a reminder that we have so far still to go, it stirs movement, change, and action that we desperately need. But when we only focus on the negative, things can begin to feel hopeless.
We wanted to take this opportunity to highlight some of the success stories that Last Prisoner Project has achieved, with the help of its supporters and donors. A friendly reminder to never stop fighting for cannabis justice, and that positive change is being made. Below are three stories of people who’ve been released and are participating in Last Prisoner Project’s Reentry Program.
Evelyn grew up in Oakland, CA after graduating from high school in 2003 she moved to Los Angeles for college. She completed the courses required to receive a bachelor’s degree in business administration with an emphasis in Entrepreneurship from Loyola Marymount University. In 2009 she gave birth to a daughter and in 2012 decided to move back to Oakland to be closer to friends and family. In 2013 she was convicted on three charges related to her minor role in a marijuana distribution operation. She was sentenced to 87 months in prison. She had no prior record and in fact had no indicators that she was a repeat offender.
On February 1, 2019 she was released from federal custody and began her 4 year probation sentence. She immediately found employment in a prominent hotel as a sales and catering coordinator. She had held this position prior to being taken into custody and was very grateful to return to the work she enjoyed. After a co-worker searched her name and found her convictions she was fired. Since then , Evelyn has become the owner and operator of Fresh Out Car Wash, her own mobile car detailing business. She is dedicated to offering jobs to people who have recently been incarcerated. She understands what it’s like to serve your time and still come home to an environment that would deny you employment because of your past.
She has experienced the War on Drugs personally, her family has now experienced it, and her daughter was left without her mother because of it. The Second Chance Act has failed her and she has made it her goal to create a real second chance for men and women being released from prison. Evelyn is an LPP board member and one of the first participants in our reentry program.
In 2013 Natalia Wade was convicted of conspiracy to distribute marijuana in North Carolina although she had never left her home state of California. Her only involvement in this conspiracy was depositing profits from cannabis sales into her bank account. From our “justice system” she received a sentence of 87 months in federal prison and four years probation as a first-time, nonviolent offender.
Natalia is now released and living in Northern California, but while incarcerated she was diagnosed with Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis. She suffered immensely under the failing healthcare system of the prisons. Natalia is still struggling to recover from the negligence of prison healthcare and the trauma of being incarcerated in the conditions of our prison system. Natalie is currently participating in LPP’s reentry program.
In 2011 Stephanie Shepard was convicted of conspiracy to distribute marijuana in New York. Beyond selling just 4 ounces of cannabis, her only involvement in distribution was simply acting as caretaker to a man who had sold marijuana and was struggling with a life threatening illness.
For her kindness, she was rewarded by our “justice system” with a sentence of 120 months in federal prison and five years probation as a first-time, nonviolent offender. Stephanie is now released and living in Northern California, but while incarcerated her beloved father passed away. Stephanie will never recover the time she lost or the moments with her family that were cruelly taken from her by the federal government. Stephanie is now participating in LPP’s reentry program.
If you’d like to learn more, we’d recommend watching this webinar that features the stories of these three strong and resilient women. The fight isn’t over yet, but with each release we get one step closer to cannabis equality and racial justice.