You tell us: did Debi get justice?
When Debi Campbell got busted serving as a middleman in a California-to-Texas meth pipeline, she knew she’d do time in prison. What she didn’t realize is that she’d spend nearly two decades there—with virtually no hope for early release.
“I wasn’t a kingpin. I was a nobody,” Campbell tells TakePart. “I needed money to get my kids out of foster care.”
Police caught the woman in charge of the Texas end of the operation selling the California product Campbell helped ship in the mail. Once arrested, the Texan agreed to work with the government to set up Campbell—in exchange for immunity from any prison time. That’s how Campbell came to face conspiracy drug charges.
Federal agents eventually charged Campbell with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute ten kilograms of meth—a number that Campbell says was completely made up by her co-conspirator.
“She was facing life in prison,” says Campbell. “She told them whatever they wanted to hear.”
With no evidence of that volume of drugs other than the snitch’s testimony, the ten kilograms of meth Debi was charged with trafficking happened to be just enough to trigger an automatic “mandatory minimum” 235-month sentence—even though she was a first-time offender.
Because Campbell disputed her co-conspirator’s claims about the volume of meth she helped move, the judge tacked on an additional four years of prison time for “obstruction of justice.”
In other words, Campbell received four years in prison for disputing the word of a co-conspirator who had zero incentive to tell the truth and got off virtually scot-free.
“Debi Campbell’s almost 20-year mandatory sentence was overkill, but that’s what happens every day in courtrooms and prisons cells across America, because of the inflexibility of mandatory minimum sentencing laws,” Monica Pratt Raffanel, communications director of Families Against Mandatory Minimums, tells TakePart.Debi is the reason FAMM is working to repeal mandatory minimum sentences. People should get individualized, fair sentences that make sense. Americans paid a lot of money to keep Debi in prison for 20 years, and it didn't make us any safer. Her sentence is both unjust and nonsensical.
Throughout the 113th Congress, we'll be working hard so that there are fewer stories like Debi's in this country.