Mandatory Minimum Sentencing: A Perversion Of Justice

Hamedah Hasan writes, "This experience has taught me that not one choice, action, or lack thereof is without consequence. This includes making laws without a sense of redemption -- that diminish the worth of human lives and attack the very foundation of the family unit."

She would know. In 1991, she was sent to prison with a double life jail sentence (later reduced to 27 years) for a first-time nonviolent drug-related offense. Escaping an abusive relationship, she went to live with cousins who were involved in the drug trade. When they were all arrested she had no information to offer the cops, being only peripherally involved in her cousins' work. Because of her lack of involvement, and because those actually involved all had information with which to barter for lighter sentences, Hasan received far and away the longest sentence -- nearly double that of those directly involved.

Filmmaker and Unitarian Universalist minister Melissa Mummert created an award-winning short documentary with Hasan about her case. I was skeptical when I first heard about the film -- a white lady in grad school telling a Black lady's story -- but in her commentary Ms. Hasan spoke a bit of their process together and the obvious mutual respect between the two, so I am really interested in seeing it.

Hamedah is, unbelievably, still locked up. Holidays may be hard times for all kinds of folks, but can be especially difficult for those behind bars.

The short film is now available on YouTube:

UPDATE: After serving 18 years behind bars, Hamedah Hasan has been released from prison.