She Was Freed When This Law Was Struck Down

Nerika Jenkins
Zain Murdock
April 19, 2021

Nerika Jenkins was sentenced to 20 years in prison after being accused of drug-related offenses committed by her then-boyfriend. It was so outrageous, even the judge felt uncomfortable giving her the charge. But, because of mandatory minimums for drug charges, the judge couldn’t help her.

While in prison, Jenkins took up several trades to keep herself busy. And, three years later, with the help of her mom and some friends she made in prison, she figured out how to file a motion to get her sentence reduced.

Six days later, the same judge she’d met years ago was the one to announce her freedom. The Supreme Court had just ruled that sentences were no longer mandatory, but “advisory” – meaning judges had wiggle room to reduce sentences.

Nerika Jenkins was able to maintain a solid support system while in prison, which was crucial in her effort to get free. And not only was she able to challenge the system in this way, but she continued to do so by launching her own program to support formerly incarcerated women! She provides them with resources to keep them from getting sucked back into the system.

Like Jenkins, we need to build our own community and infrastructure in order to take care of each other in the face of a system that’s so intent on isolating us and breaking us down!

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