culture

New Platform Gives a Voice to the Victims of the War on Drugs

“I am a great father, a good friend, and I love my family,” Ferrell Scott said in a recording from a prison in Pennsylvania.
Scott, 56, is currently serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole on charges of possession and conspiracy to distribute marijuana — a substance that is legal now in many parts of the country.
“I just think there is more to life than me being here for the rest of life … Sometimes I think if you were put to death it would be better because this is harder than death,” he added.
The audio file was published by the Third Strike Campaign, a platform created to showcase the voices of individuals whose lives have been tragically derailed by the U.S.’ “war on drugs.” The campaign was produced by the criminal justice reform groups The Decarceration Collective and the Buried Alive Project.
“The mission is to rescue people who have been buried alive under America’s unfair and unjust three strike drug law,” MiAngel Cody, the lead counsel of The Decarceration Collective, told Cheddar. “It is really easy to get a life sentence in America.”
And while there is growing support across the political spectrum for criminal justice reform, the Third Strike Campaign aims to shed light on — and give a voice to — the real people that continue to suffer everyday from the “tough on crime” justice system and the mandatory sentencing guidelines under three strikes legislation.
Scott, for instance, was denied an appeal in 2014 despite having a clean prison record. He was also not included in the 568 federal drug cases that were granted executive clemency by President Obama — which were, nonetheless, a major victory for justice advocates given that President Bush granted just one drug pardon and President Clinton granted zero, according to the Buried Alive Project.
“The power comes by giving the prisoners a voice,” Mikkel Noe Westh, the CEO of the digital design firm Granyon, told Cheddar. Westh, whose company built the Third Strike Campaign’s platform, added that his engineers were fully invested in the project after hearing the voices of the prisoners and seeing the gross injustice.
Among several others, the site features Troy Lawrence, 44, who is also serving a life sentence in Pennsylvania. “My mind and my spirit our in a new place. I’m ready to be a father to my children,” Lawrence said.
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