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My father transported Meth to pay for my life saving surgery and received 3 life sentences w/o parole - AMA

Jan 21st 2014 by BadNewsBobby • 23 Questions • 2866 Points

Hi, My name is Joseph Cole Jackson and my Dad is Dicky Joe Jackson, a non-violent drug offender serving 3 life sentences. I was born with Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome and to pay for my life saving surgeries, my Dad transported Meth for a guy and was eventually busted. You can read his full story here:

http://www.november.org/thewall/cases/jackson-dj/jackson-dj.html

We are really excited because he was recently in an ACLU report that was about prisoners serving life sentences that were for non-violent crimes. We are hoping the visibility will help with a possible commutation of his sentence.

My Dad's story is on page 79 at the bottom and his picture/quote is also on page 3.

Here is the report: https://www.aclu.org/files/assets/111213a-lwop-complete-report.pdf

He was also featured in a New York Times and Salon article:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/14/opinion/kristof-serving-life-for-this.html?_r=0

http://www.salon.com/2013/12/16/meet_the_real_walter_white_this_man_sold_meth_to_save_his_sons_life/

I am more than happy to answer any and all questions that you have. If your questions are overly negative, I will try my best to change your mind :)

EDIT: Wow, didn't realize this many people would be comment so quickly! I am trying my best to keep up and will try to answer everyone's questions. Thanks for commenting!

EDIT 2: Here is a link to the ACLU petition asking for President Obama to review these cases:

https://www.aclu.org/life-without-parole?ms=web_acluaction_lwop_131113

EDIT 3: I have been trying to keep up and I realize a lot of people are saying that I am somehow misrepresenting my dad or saying things that are not true and I just wanted to say I am sorry if I mixed anything up and that I am giving you the information that has been giving to me from the court documents and the various other documents that my family has. I will try to post these documents in the coming days to try to clear some stuff up. Here is a (slightly revised and extended) reply I posted to someone concerning the insurance situation and also all of this information is available in the links provided, i was never trying to "hide" anything:

"I am sorry if you feel I have "misrepresented" anything as I have been trying answer all questions accurately and promptly with the information I have. Please reply with what you feel I misrepresented and I can try to answer it directly to you as opposed to you getting information to one question from 5 different comments as I feel like that can lead to things being taken out of context... I won't lie, I was 2 years old when this all went down with the insurance company and I know my mom has a letter from the company somewhere saying that they cancelled our policy. If I can find it I will post it but I can't promise anything because it has been a very long time and my mom doesn't exactly like dredging up stuff from back then. Again my apologies to anyone that thinks I was trying to falsely make my dad out to be someone he isn't. He broke the law, he transported meth, and probably hurt a lot of people indirectly by doing those actions. Was he a meth dealer? No. Did he take some from a shipment and sell it to a childhood friend who was wearing a wire and made up a sob story to get himself out of a sticky situation. Yes. So just to clarify technically yes my dad distributed meth on one occasion that I know of and the only one ever mentioned in all of the court documents we have but it was not an ongoing thing as far as I know or as far as the court was concerned. Just wanted to clarify for people because I know there have been a lot of comments saying that I am lying and honestly if you read some of my posts, you would know I have nothing to hide and I am not making my dad out to be a hero. He did what he thought was right by his family and although a lot of people having varying views on what his actions are to be seen as, I have never said this was a victimless crime or that he didn't deserve some jail time for his actions. I love my father dearly but he did do something horrible in order to save me so he did deserve to be incarcerated, I just don't feel like it should be a life sentence and that 19 years away from society, your family and freedom is sufficient payment for his crimes. -- Thanks for your post." ---- If anyone has any questions that they would really like answered and aren't here just to post rude comments without proper context then please PM me and I will try to answer your questions. Thank you for reading my dad's story and thank you for signing the petition. It means a hell of a lot to me and my family.

Q:

Where was your dad transporting the meth from and where was he bringing it? And how big was he in the trafficking business?

A:

I'm don't the exact amount he was transporting, although I do know he was never caught with any on his person or in our house. The only thing that was every found was trace amounts at his business but because the case was tried as a conspiracy, he was sentenced according to what others that were tried in the case were caught with. Also, he was going from California to Texas


Q:

According to your Salon URL

Jackson was arrested for selling half a pound of methamphetamine to an undercover officer. The prosecution offered Jackson a chance to lower his sentence, but he refused to testify against his co-defendants

If he sold it to an undercover cop that's a little different than 'none found on his person, only trace amounts at his business'.

A:

The person that he sold to was actually one of his friends from childhood. He got back from a trip, all he actually did was transport and was not a meth dealer, this former friend of his asked if he could buy 1/2lb to sell because he was behind on rent etc. My dad is a bit of a softie when it comes to sob stories and is too trusting for his own good and sold to his friend the meth. Then the guy ran to the cops, gave them the info/drugs/wire and got his sentence reduced to 2 years. The "friend" that gave my dad up was originally caught with over a pound. -- I apologize about this as I have emailed the writer of the article but she hasn't got back to me about this discrepancy EDIT: I worded this terribly wrong and have fixed my error.


Q:

if you knew your dad was going to transport Meth to save your life, would you have let him do it ?

A:

No. I went through a stage in my youth where I fully understood the implication of what my medical expenses did to my family and I remember wishing I was never born. I have since gotten over this considering it wasn't exactly like I had control over the situation so I learned to live with it but I have to admit it does get me down knowing how much stress and grief I have indirectly put my family through...


Q:

According to the NY Times article, the prosecutor said:

I saw no indication that Mr. Jackson was violent, that he was any sort of large-scale narcotics trafficker, or that he committed his crimes for any reason other than to get money to care for his gravely ill child.

Have you ever seen any reasoning from the sentencing judge as to why your father got such a harsh penalty when even the prosecutor wasn't pushing it?

Also, this is a very serious topic and I am really appreciative of you sharing. I plan on downvoting every stupid breaking bad joke in this thread.

A:

My family and I believe the harsh sentencing was due to both harsh mandatory minimums and the judge that was residing over the case, Judge John H Mcbryde. This man is documented for over-sentencing drug offenses as well as ignoring the defendants circumstance. He was actually disbarred for a year from taking new cases and my father's case was one of the examples used to get him disbarred. Also, thank you for taking the time to comment.


Q:

Finally, the Special Committee found that Judge McBryde behaved in a disrespectful and offensive manner toward other members of the judiciary, including federal and state judges.

Knowing what I know about large organizations, this is what really got him into some shit, not the stuff that hurt powerless people.

A:

Sorry, I don't mean to be misleading. I just remember going up to the public archives with my sister to research my dad's case and the person up there said that we couldn't see them because it was being used by some individuals already. My sister found this odd, and I was 7 or 8 so I didn't really know what was going on, and investigated further and found that one of the lawyers that filed the complaint and got Judge Mcbryde suspended was the one that had been looking at the archived case. Later he turned up on the news as being suspended for being unfair in court and I always linked the two together. I apologize if I was misleading in anyway as I was just relaying the information as I saw it and should have done a bit more digging. Thanks for correcting me /u/peacefor


Q:

Is there anything we can do to change/help the situation?

A:

Yes, please go here and sign: https://www.aclu.org/life-without-parole?ms=web_acluaction_lwop_131113

Thought I had this in the top.... Will edit and put it there. Thanks for asking!


Q:

Would you have done the same for your father if the situation was reversed?

A:

Absolutely. My family is really close knit and I would venture to say that if it was anyone in my family was in a life or death situation that any one of us would sacrifice anything in order to save them. That's just how we are.


Q:

Well what is your health situation now? Did you get the surgery?

A:

Haha, yeah the true irony of the story is that despite my dad's sacrifice, the surgery only "partially" worked. After it failed initially they wanted to do the same surgery again for another $250,000 but my mother claims to have been spoken to by God and that he told her to decline the surgery. The doctors actually tried to get the state to take me away from her but luckily that didn't happen and 5 years later when I was 7, I had a spleenectomy? (is this a word?) and it more or less made my situation manageable. We later found out that if I would have had the second Bone Marrow transplant that I would have most likely died and they even apologized to my mom for trying to take me away for child "negligence". I still have to take a ton of pills daily and have an extremely weak immune system but other than that, I live a relatively normal life.


Q:

That's amazing. Do you ever regret your father doing this? How's he doing now?

A:

I regret him doing this not for the reason he did it but because I feel like my family may have been better off without me. He is doing well, or as well as he can be doing I suppose.


Q:

Don't have a question. Just want to say that it looks like your Dad truly cared for you. I wish you and your family the best.

A:

Thank you, it means the world to my family when we hear people say things like this and I really appreciate your comment.


Q:

First of all, I hope both you and your dad are doing well.

Clearly your dad had no other option. Was it a case of not having insurance, or insurance not willing to pay?

Is he surviving prison ok? Has his sacrifice made things easier/harder for him?

Three life sentences...that's ridiculous. Add in non-violence, and clearly our laws need revision. Have you contacted the ACLU directly, or did they contact you?

A:

We are both doing well, thank you for asking. We had insurance but they cancelled our plan when we tried to use the insurance to pay for the surgery. --He is surviving prison as good as someone can knowing that they'll never get to be free again. I would say it has made it easier for him knowing that he may have done something awful but that he did it for me helps I think.


Q:

Wait...

How the holy shit does one cancel your plan when you try to ask the insurance to do what it has to do... ?

A:

You have to be very clever. The month that we tried to use the insurance they said they were going to help pay. We had the insurance on an auto-draft from the family account and my mom and dad budgeted for this every month and we didn't have a lot of money left over. The policy my family had taken out had fine print saying that if they ever missed a payment, that the insurance company had the right to revoke the insurance. So the next month came around and the tripled the premium without notification and cancelled our insurance.


Q:

How long was your father a drug trafficker and what sentence would you consider fair?

A:

5-10 years IMO would have been sufficient. This would've meant him missing 2 of his children's graduation and the birth of 2 of his grand children.


Q:

How often do yall talk? Is his jailhouse close to you? I didn't take time to read all the details.

A:

Unfortunately he is currently in Arkansas (We live in Texas) and before that he was in Florida. This is actually against BOP policy to move someone this far from their homestate but our complaints to the BOP have fallen on deaf ears. I talk to him probably twice a week and they just installed an email system in his current prison so I also message him often.


Q:

How old are you?

A:

23


Q:

Did your dad consider Medicaid or a charity hospital system to have the surgery done?

A:

We tried several different ways to raise the money: fundraiser, contacting celebrities, contacting charities, St. Judes, etc. but in the end it wasn't enough. I would also like to say that although St. Judes rejected me I feel like it was the most logical thing to do at the time and think they are a great organization. At the time my disease wasn't that well documented and they didn't want to waste valuable resources on surgery that wasn't going to guarantee me survival or even the possibility for survival. Better to save ten lives for sure then use that money to give one kid a CHANCE of survival.


Q:

How much was the surgery? Sorry if this is an obvious question, but I'm used to the NHS which provides free healthcare, so having to resort to such measures to pay for a surgery appears to be shocking! Thanks for your time.

A:

$250,000 for bone-marrow transplant


Q:

Though it is a non-violent crime and it was done to help save your life, do you feel that some penalty must be paid for your father's actions? I mean not 3 life sentences but maybe 10 years?

A:

Yes. Otherwise people would falsely claim to be doing illegal things for similar reasons then get off with nothing. I feel like 5 years would have been sufficient. Or even 10. He is currently serving his 19th year which is far too long for the offense he committed.


Q:

Did the transporting of meth actually pay for the surgeries? or was he busted before that could happen?

EDIT: It's a shitty situation for everybody...

A:

Yes, the money he made was used for the surgery.


Q:

Hey Cole.

I'm still expecting you to come up with that badass engine that runs on water.

Love, Maggie

A:

God I miss you guys. Hope all is well. -- And no worries, I will get it running and get you that Mitsubishi Evo in burnt orange. Don't think I forgot :)


Q:

Ask the president for a pardon

A:

It would be a commutation of his sentence, not a pardon. And he has submitted a request for commutation but was denied last year. He is resubmitting it this year and we have are fingers crossed.


Q:

Just wondering what illness you had for the surgery to save you life?

A:

Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome. Pretty rare but thankfully a lot more understood now than it was back when I was diagnosed.


Q:

I had to write a paper on Wiskott-Aldrich last month for uni, did you get the op? How did it go?

A:

I did get the operation and they told my family it was only partially successful. I am not a doctor so I don't know the details of how it partially worked but I do know that they wanted to do an additional bonemarrow transplant but we opted out of it. I later got a splenectomy later when I was 7