Linda Byrnes is a 70 year old woman who has been in prison for 22 years. She is serving a 27 year and 9 month sentence for conspiracy to distribute marijuana. This April she was diagnosed with tongue cancer and has started chemotherapy.
Without clemency from President Obama, she may not live to be released.
Despite states legalizing marijuana across the nation for medicinal and recreational use, Byrnes remains in prison. She wants to reunite with her family — including her 7 year old granddaughter, Gabriellah, who has Spinal Muscular Atrophy, a terminal illness, and is confined to a wheelchair, requiring breathing and feeding tubes.
Byrnes’s son was involved in selling marijuana and she helped him haul a shipment. When he got caught, he was given immunity if he would testify against her. She has said that she understands that her son was young and scared and was manipulated by law enforcement. She believes they greatly exaggerated the marijuana case against them.
Because Byrnes had a prior marijuana conviction, an additional 10 years was added to her sentence. Linda has never had the been able to meet her grandchildren.
Her crime involved no violence and no victims.
Her supporters argue that it makes no fiscal sense to keep a woman — who was never a danger or threat to anyone — locked in prison any longer.
While incarcerated, Byrnes has participated in several classes, including a 500 hour residential drug abuse program, one year after-care program, and the inmate financial responsibility program. She finished a trade school program for Optical Lens, where she went to school for a year and made eyeglasses for 41 facilities in the State of Virginia. She also completed classes in cross stitch, knitting, pre-release and parenting classes, as well as drug programs, among others.
Her supporters have organized a petition on Change.org and asking others to sign this petition and ask President Obama “to show Linda Byrnes mercy and allow her to have to chance to live the remainder of her life as a free woman loving and caring for her loved ones.”
Learn more about Linda’s case on the CAN-DO Foundation website.