Sentence: 12 years
Offense: Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute over 50 grams of meth; possession with intent to distribute over five grams of meth
Year sentenced: 2004
Age at sentencing: 22
Projected release date: May 25, 2013
Sabrina’s parents fought often during her childhood, and frequently their arguments would lead to physical violence. They divorced after Sabrina’s father was incarcerated for trafficking marijuana. Her mother worked hard cleaning motel rooms to provide for Sabrina.
Sabrina’s battle with substance abuse began at age 12 when she started smoking marijuana. In tenth grade she became pregnant and dropped out of school. The father of Sabrina’s child was extremely abusive and is currently incarcerated. When Sabrina was 19-years-old she fell in love with a man 13 years her senior. He was a known methamphetamine dealer in New Mexico and introduced the drug to Sabrina.
On April 30, 2002, police officers went to Sabrina’s home to arrest the man--he had been living with her since his release from jail three days earlier. Moments before police took him into custody; the man placed 0.79 grams of methamphetamine into Sabrina’s waistband as he hugged her. The police confiscated it, along with 49.95 grams of methamphetamine, 21.1 grams of marijuana, a handgun and her boyfriend’s drug ledger. Sabrina, a single mother, kept the gun for protection. Police arrested Sabrina along with her boyfriend.
Sabrina pled guilty and was held accountable for between 500 grams and 1.5 kilograms of methamphetamine. Though the sentencing guidelines proscribed a term of 70 to 87 months in prison, the charges against Sabrina carry a ten-year mandatory minimum. Sabrina’s probation officer took into account the detrimental impact her incarceration would have on her family and asked the Court for mercy:
"[T]he Court could consider a downward departure based on extraordinary family ties and responsibilities. The defendant has a four-year-old daughter who is currently in the custody of the defendant’s mother. However, there is a concern that the defendant’s mother may not be able to care for the child for the length of time the defendant could be imprisoned. Although the child does have her father, he is currently an absconder from parole supervision. The defendant was gainfully employed and providing financial support for her daughter prior to her arrest. In addition, the defendant has no prior arrests or convictions and 144 months is an extensive period of time for the defendant’s child to be away from her mother."
The government threatened Sabrina with an additional five-year mandatory minimum for the handgun, but agreed to a plea bargain of 12 years in federal prison. Sabrina, a minor participant in the offense with no criminal record, received just three years less than her boyfriend, a drug dealer who had experienced many run-ins with the law.
During her incarceration, Sabrina has dedicated herself to turning her life around. She works hard at her prison job and maintains a positive attitude. Sabrina’s mother currently cares for Sabrina’s young daughter and is very supportive of Sabrina.