Criminal Justice

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Petition to , North Carolina Governor, Governor Roy Cooper

Support Clemency For Carlos Sanchez

Please show your support for the release of Carlos Sanchez. Carlos is seeking clemency from the governor of NC, Governor Roy Cooper, and is requesting commutation of his last 2 years in prison. I met Carlos through a political prisoner letter writing campaign several years ago and we have been pen pals ever since.  Carlos was wrongfully convicted of drug possession and trafficking 1995.  Carlos is from Colombia.  He was visiting the US when he was 25.  While traveling from Miami to New York City, his bus was stopped and all passengers were removed.  Carlos did not speak English at the time and was unsure about what was happening.  Confused and afraid, he was taken into custody by the police.  He later learned that he was being charged with possession and trafficking of cocaine.  Apparently, a small bag of cocaine was found in a bag with women's and baby clothing on the bus.  There was no physical evidence linking Carlos to the bag and the whole case rested on circumstantial evidence based on the statement of a single police officer.  As a Colombian man, Carlos was profiled and assumed to be guilty because the route between Miami and New York is often used for trafficking drugs from Central and South America. When it came to time for the case to be tried, Carlos was encouraged by his public defender (PD) to plead not guilty rather than accept a plea bargain that would have carried a lighter sentence (44-62 months).  His PD was convinced that with the evidence being so flimsy, the clear indication of racial bias, and the fact that Carlos had never been convicted of a crime and had no history of violence in his past, he would not be convicted.  Carlos went to trial and was given a shocking sentence of 30 years for two crimes, possession and transportation of an illicit substance, based on mandatory minimum sentencing requirements.  In addition to this sentence being disproportionate to the supposed crime, it is important to remember that it was a crime that Carlos did not commit.  Additionally, Carlos did not have money or access to resources that could provide him more effective legal aid, was unfamiliar with the US legal system, had little ability to connect with family for support and/or advice and could not speak English, limiting his ability to speak for and defend himself.  It was also the first legal offense Carlos was ever accused of, in either the US or Colombia, making it even more irrational that he would be given such a harsh sentence. Carlos has now been in prison for 26 years.  In that time, Carlos has learned to speak and write English fluently, participated in college level courses and has completed a dental certification program.  He has worked in prison as a prosthodontist, making dentures for the general public and for prisoners.  Carlos has been a model inmate.  He once intervened in a fight between prisoners which saved the life of a prison guard on duty.  He has done his best to remain positive and make the most of his time while incarcerated.  Despite his best efforts, Carlos has continued to experience additional injustices throughout his incarceration, some of which he believes to be racially motivated.  Carlos does not deserve to be in jail.  He has already lost his youth and he should be released. Carlos has requested that Governor Roy Cooper of North Carolina grant him clemency so that he may be released early and return home to his family in Colombia.  His requests have gone unheard.  I have personally written a letter to Governor Roy Cooper to urge him to grant clemency to Carlos, but this has had little impact.  My hope is to bring this case to the attention of those who understand the ways in which the biases within our justice system impact the very real lives of innocent individuals like Carlos.  Please consider signing this petition to request that Governor Roy Cooper grant clemency to Carlos Sanchez.  May the collective call of our voices be the sounding alarm that ushers Carlos to freedom!! See the link below to a blurb about Carlos from 2005. You will note that at the time of his arrest, the police witness reported that Carlos made a statement in English. This would have been impossible, as Carlos did not speak English at the time of his incarceration, or even in 2005, ten years after his arrest.

megan petrucelli
12 supporters