1 out of 3 black men are under the control of corrections institutions.I've never seen my son as a free man."


Michael Clarke

age 28, serving 13 years

possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine


Michael Clarke had a promising future. He was a senior at North Carolina Central University, majoring in visual communication and art. He was engaged to be married to an intelligent woman who was also a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. They had great plans.

Unfortunately, Michael's family began having serious financial problems, when his mother got injured while trying to send two sons to college. Michael took part-time jobs, "but that did not even put a dent in the problem." He was desperate and took the quick and easy way out. He began to sell crack.

Although his financial woes began to subside, other problems arose. His schoolwork and his relationship began to suffer. At his fiancee's urging, he quit. She was pregnant with his child, and they were close to graduating and reaching their dreams. But, then he got robbed, and the financial problems arose again. "The answer came wrapped in a beautifully packaged box with ignorance hiding inside with a one-way ticket to destruction, " he wrote. He was arrested after two individuals set him up as "the sacrificial lamb."

"You want to know what's overwhelmingly painful; I've never seen my son as a free man.... I made a mistake, but my sentence is drastically exaggerated. My mistake is being used to stuff ballot boxes. It doesn't take 13 years to realize that there are other legal ways to empower yourself financially.

"I'm a pawn in the game and I know this. I'm taking the fall for the 'Fat Cats' - those who import the drugs, those who allow the drugs to enter the country and those who hide behind behind bureaucracy. I own no plane, ship or any other radar-evasive vehicle. I'm at the bottom of the totem pole. I'm the effect, not the cause. I say 'Justice'."