There are many inmates in the federal prison system who apply for clemency, but comparatively few who actually have that request granted. On Feb. 18, President Donald Trump granted clemency to more than a dozen federal inmates, including three women who were serving time for non-violent offenses.
Lavonne Roach is a 54-year-old Native American woman who was sentenced to 30 years for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. She is one of those inmates who has applied for clemency but has not been successful.
During her incarceration, the CAN-DO Foundation notes that Roach has been a model inmate, aside from a minor infraction for saving medications.
In her 2014 request for clemency made through The Clemency Project, the case is made that if Roach was sentenced today, she would receive a sentence of 201 months because of a Supreme Court ruling on federal sentencing in the case United States v. Booker. Roach has already served 216 months of her sentence. Her release date is projected to be Jan. 28, 2024.
“Today, my sentence is unconstitutional due to the ruling in Booker, but because it isn't retroactive, I am still incarcerated," Roach said in a letter submitted by the CAN-DO Foundation as part of her appeal for clemency. "I am older and have deteriorating health, [and] the Bureau of Prisons has not been able to provide adequate care. Preventive care is not available to me due to under-staffing and budget issues.”
“Prior to my conviction, I was on a path of self-destruction," said Roach. "Today, because of the many programs that I have taken to help myself, I now value life and freedom. I pray for the day I will have the freedom to be there for my grandchildren and great granddaughter.”
She has taken more than 40 classes during her incarceration, preparing her to work as a paralegal, administrative assistant, and even a forklift driver. Upon her release, Roach plans to live with her daughter. She wants to work with high-risk teens and advocate for prison reform.
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