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When my son was sentenced to serve 15 years in prison they forgot to mention the other part of his sentence. They forgot to tell me that I would be terrified every day during his stay in prison. They forgot to tell me that he would be subjected to fear and torture. They forgot to tell me about the gangs and violence. They forgot to tell me about the contraband and corruption.


Did I say those words? Contraband and corruption.

I received this picture of Daniel yesterday. It gave me great pause. Imagine how I feel knowing that this is where he lives. Everyday, all day. No windows, 60+ men, no privacy, no hugs.

When we sentence a person to prison for committing a crime we put it in writing. We spell out the length of time and the amount of probation or other action items to follow incarceration.

What we neglect to do is be honest about what we are really sentencing a person to.

A sentence must also include this as an attachment:

The State of Georgia hereby sentences you to 15 years to serve 12 years in GDOC. Along with this time behind the razor wire you will be subjected to the following:

Dear Commissioner Bryson,

I am sad today. I am terrified today. I feel the way I did when my son first went into prison. The fact is that I was finally feeling good up until Sunday.

My son had a terrible time adjusting to prison life, remember, he was sentenced to 15 years mandatory, went in as a heroin addict and never had a weapon, hurt or hit anyone and stole nothing.

He was suicidal, he was deeply depressed and angry and he only had me, his dad and his sister.

Some days I get angry about my son’s story. Some days it is worse than others. I begin to dwell on the “what ifs” that go along with having someone you love go to prison. Especially your child.

When Judge Kelly Lee Ellerbe sentenced my son to 15 years in prison, she also sentenced him to loss of the ability to start a career and a family and the loss of his dignity. He has been locked up for 4 years now. He was 4 days into his 22nd year of life. He is treated like a caged animal.