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:

Life – Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine


My name is Dicky Joe Jackson, and I’m serving a life sentence for conspiracy to possess and distribute methamphetamine. I transported some drugs to pay for my son’s bone marrow transplant to save his life. Debt forced me into this crime, though I swore that I would never let that happen.

I was in the trucking business, and had been all my life. My father owned a truck when I was born, and that’s all I ever knew was long distance hauling – produce, cattle and such. In November 1988, I was busted at a truck stop in Florida when a rat posing as a trucker asked to bum a pill from me. I was charged for possession of one-half gram of meth. In December 1989, I was busted for transporting over one kilogram of marijuana and that got me a year in the county jail, compliments of Tylertown, Miss. Shortly thereafter, I lost my truck due to attorney fees.

While I was in jail, my youngest son Cole was born with Wiskott Aldrich Syndrome. We had been paying medical insurance for 7 years without a claim since my daughter was born. As soon as the bills for the cancer tests started rolling in, the insurance company began looking for ways to get out of paying them. Our insurance payments were being taken out of our checking account automatically. A year after my son was diagnosed with this disease, and it was determined that a bone marrow transplant was the only hope to save his life, the insurance company upped our monthly premium without notifying us. The automatic draft didn’t clear the bank because we were budgeted tight, so they dropped us. Before he was born, the insurance company had sent their drafts through the bank as many as 4 times in one month when our money was short. But their policy changed when they saw a $250,000 bone marrow transplant coming.

We didn’t qualify for government assistance because I made $20,000 a year. The hospital needed $100,000 in advance for the transplant, even though our daughter was a perfect match as a donor. We kept our faith in God strong, and through fund-raisers across the United States from movie stars, singers, songwriters and from the Children’s Cancer Society in Illinois, we raised $102.000. The transplant took ten weeks, and his mother and I would take turns on 24 hour shifts staying with him at the hospital until we were finally able to bring him home. But the transplant didn’t work and they wanted to do another one. We owed $200,000 in medical bills, but the hospital said they would work with us if we could keep making payments on the past due bills.

Then my dad died and my mom was stuck with no way to survive. Bills were coming in and he owed more money on his truck than it was worth. So I started driving my dad’s truck to help her out. That’s where my codefendant comes in, who was buying speed in California. He asked if he could ride to and fro with me. He said he would pay me good because he knew the situation with my son’s medical expenses, and that I was trying to support my mom, too. He rode back and forth once a month for about a year. One time I sold a half pound of speed for him, but the man I sold it to was undercover and was wired. My co-conspirator was busted and the feds wanted me to testify against him, but I wouldn’t, so he testified against me and said I was the ringleader. I got life in prison, and he got 10 years because he lied in front of the jury.

The thing that hurts me the most is that my older sister and younger brother we’re included in this also. At one time or another my little brother would make a trip for me when I was too tired to go. You see, the truck went to California every week with produce. But only once every month or so were drugs brought back. The government made it appear to the jury that the truck’s only purpose was to transport dope. Therefore, my brother who has never been in trouble in his life got the same sentence I got – life, because we wouldn’t snitch.

Over 40 people in our community wrote letters to the judge asking for leniency because they knew of our plight with Cole. I know that what I did was not right or legal, even in a life and death situation, as ours was. But in my 42 years of life, I have never harmed a soul, but I shouldn’t have trusted in myself, rather than in God, to help me through another very dark time. I know I deserve some time, but I shouldn’t be taken away from my family for the rest of my life. I thought my obligation to make ends meet was important. Please understand that my family is number one and I love them with all my heart, and they love me also. We don’t deserve to have our lives taken away from us and thrown in the trash because of a mistake.


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: Pdf File Category meth

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

Serving Life for This?

So you’re a judge, and Sharanda P. Jones comes before you for sentencing for conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine.

She’s a 32-year-old mom with a 9-year-old daughter and no prior arrests, but she has been caught up in a drug sweep that has led to 105 arrests in her Texas town. Everyone arrested is black.

There are no drugs found on Jones, but her supposed co-conspirators testify against her in exchange for reduced sentences. The whole case is dubious, but she has been convicted. What’s your sentence?

You have little choice. Given the presumptions of the case, she gets a mandatory minimum sentence of life without the possibility of parole. Jump to today and already Jones has spent 14 years in prison and is expected to die behind bars — for a first offense.

At a time when America has been slashing preschool programs, we have also been spending vast sums to incarcerate thousands of nonviolent offenders in life sentences without any possibility of parole. These cases underscore that our mass incarceration experiment has resulted in monstrous injustice and waste — a waste of tax dollars and of human lives.

Judges and prison officials are rebelling at the injustice of our justice system. Here’s what Judge James R. Spencer, a federal district judge, said when sentencing a former F.B.I. informant to life without parole for selling crack cocaine to support his own addiction: “A life sentence for what you have done in this case is ridiculous; it is a travesty.”

But federal law on mandatory minimums left Judge Spencer no leeway. He added: “I don’t agree with it, either. And I want the world and the record to be clear on that. This is just silly.”

Here are some other nonviolent offenders serving life sentences without the possibility of parole:

• Ricky Minor, a meth addict and father of three, was found with 1.2 grams of meth in his home, along with over-the-counter decongestants that can be used to manufacture meth. He was initially charged under Florida law and says he faced a two-and-a-half-year sentence. Later indicted under federal law, he pleaded guilty because his public defender said that otherwise the prosecutors would also pursue his wife, leaving no one to raise their children. Minor had several prior nonviolent offenses, for which he had never served time, and these required Judge Clyde Roger Vinson to sentence him to life without parole. Judge Vinson said that the sentence “far exceeds whatever punishment would be appropriate.”

• Dicky Joe Jackson was a trucker whose 2-year-old son, Cole, needed a bone-marrow transplant to save his life. The family raised $50,000 through community fund-raisers, not nearly enough for the transplant, and Jackson tried to earn the difference by carrying meth in his truck. He has now been in prison for the last 17 years; when he lost his last appeal, he divorced his wife of 19 years so that she could start over in her life. The federal prosecutor in the case acknowledged: “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.”

• Danielle Metz became pregnant at 17 and later married an abusive man who was also a drug dealer. To placate him, she says, she sometimes helped him by fetching cocaine or collecting money from Western Union. After one clash in which he punched her in the face, she took the kids and left him. Two months later, she was indicted. She says that she was prosecuted primarily to induce her to testify against her husband, but that she wasn’t knowledgeable enough to have useful information to trade for a reduced sentence. She has now spent more than 20 years in prison.

Those examples come from a devastating new report, “A Living Death,” by the American Civil Liberties Union. It identified more than 3,200 such nonviolent offenders sentenced to die behind bars.

Four out of five are black or Hispanic. Virtually all are poor. Many had dismal legal counsel. Some were convicted of crimes committed when they were juveniles or very young adults.

These people are victims of America’s disastrous experiment in mass incarceration. From the 1930s through the early 1970s, we incarcerated people at a steady rate. Since then, incarceration rates have roughly quintupled. America now imprisons people at more than five times the rates of most Western countries.

I write often about human rights abuses abroad. But when we take young, nonviolent offenders — some of them never arrested before — and sentence them to die in prison, it’s time for Americans who care about injustice to gaze in the mirror.


Meet the real Walter White: This man sold meth to save his son’s life

Meet the real Walter White: This man sold meth to save his son's lifesBryan Cranston as Walter White in “Breaking Bad” (Credit: AMC/Frank Ockenfels 3)

In the fictitious world of “Breaking Bad,” Walter White produces methamphetamine in order to pay for his cancer treatment and leave his family financially secure after his death. In the real world, Dicky Joe Jackson decided to transport meth in order to pay for his son’s lifesaving medical treatment. White became a badass billionaire and indirect serial killer; Jackson became a “lifer,” sentenced to take his last breath behind bars so that his son could live.

Sadly, Jackson, who is 55 and has been in jail for 18 years, is only one of the 3,278 men and women serving a sentence of life in prison without parole, for nonviolent offenses. The fact that convicted murderers and rapists go free after serving only years or months in jail makes the cruel and draconian punishment for nonviolent crimes all the more absurd and perverse.

Calling me from the Forrest City Correctional Institution in eastern Arkansas, Jackson related many of the details of his heartbreaking story, the result of a combination of some of our nation’s greatest failures: an ineffective and destructive “war” on drugs, draconian sentencing and over-incarceration without even the pretense of rehabilitation, and a heartless healthcare system that forces people to make unthinkable choices.

Born and raised on a dairy farm in Boyd, Texas, Dicky Joe Jackson left high school after 10th grade to become a trucker, like his father. And like his father, and many truckers, he took speed to stay awake during long drives. In 1988, Jackson was convicted of possession of a half-gram of meth after a confidential informant posing as a fellow trucker at a Florida truck stop asked him for a pill. Then, in 1989, Jackson was convicted of transporting more than one kilogram of marijuana and served one year in a county jail in Tylertown, Miss. But far worse than his sentence was the news he received while still in jail: his 2-year-old son, Cole, had been diagnosed with Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome, an extremely rare autoimmune disease. Affecting one in 250,000 males, it causes recurrent bacterial, viral and fungal infections, lowers blood platelets and leads to easy bleeding and bruising.

Cole’s doctors explained that without a bone marrow transplant, he would likely have less than three years to live. The good news was that Cole’s 12-year-old sister, April, was a perfect match. The bad news was that the transplant would cost $250,000. And the Jackson family had recently lost their insurance coverage. They were given a choice, Dicky says: raise the money and pay for the only hope Cole had to live, or seek hospice care that would make Cole as comfortable as possible as he died.

Letting Cole die was not an option, and the Jacksons quickly got to work raising money.  They sold their belongings, and they wrote to family and friends asking for donations. They even wrote to celebrities ranging from members of the band Alabama to football players to Ronald Reagan, all of whom donated memorabilia for the Jacksons to auction off.  The Jacksons were able to raise $50,000 this way. Because of the rarity of Cole’s disease, they found no foundations prepared to help. After applying to national charities for ill children, some twice, and getting nowhere, they reapplied to the National Children’s Cancer Society, and received $50,000. But they were still $150,000 short of the money required to pay for the transplant.  In addition, Cole had to receive a literal lifetime of chemotherapy, and a monthly hemoglobin treatment before and after the transplant, which cost $3,700 and had to be paid upfront.


“I was desperate,” Jackson says. “I had to get the money. Before I had kids, I’d never known there was a love like that. Once you have kids the whole game changes. There ain’t nothing you wouldn’t do for them especially if they’re sick. When Cole was younger, it looked like we just beat him all the time, because he would bruise all over if you just squeezed him or picked him up. You’d barely touch him and he’d bruise and that would just break your heart … It made a crazy person out of me. I’d never faced anything like that and I hope no one else has to. But I guess it happens to a lot of people.”

In this crazy state, Jackson was working full-time driving livestock between Texas and California. A local meth dealer who knew about Cole’s medical situation asked Jackson if he would transport the drug from California to Texas on his drives; he would get around $5,000 for this, five times the $1,000 he would make transporting the livestock and produce. Once a month, Jackson transported the meth with his cargo. After a year, in 1995, 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, explaining to me: “If I make a mistake I’m gonna pay for it myself.” Jackson was found guilty of conspiring to posses or possessing with intent to distribute. The judge found that he either conspired to possess, or possessed, with intent to distribute, 81.5 kilograms; 358 times the amount that was found on him. Jackson was sentenced to three life sentences along with three 10-year charges.

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!

End the affront to justice


Because of our overly extreme sentencing laws, thousands of people will never spend another holiday season with their families. Instead, they will spend their entire lives in prisons, until the day they die, with no chance of ever getting out for good behavior for relatively minor crimes like shoplifting a jacket or selling a single crack rock.

In case after case we reviewed, the sentencing judge said on the record that he or she opposed the mandatory sentence as too severe but their hands were tied by laws that take away judges’ discretion. And the cost to taxpayers is nearly $1.8 billion dollars to keep the people currently serving life without parole for nonviolent offenses behind bars for life.

This is an injustice, but it’s not an injustice that’s set in stone. President Obama has the power to reduce these cruel and wasteful sentences for people in federal prison, but the Obama Administration has used this commutation power less than any administration in recent history. It’s time for President Obama to reverse his record.

This holiday season, President Obama should review the sentences of people serving life without parole for nonviolent offenses and consider commuting them. Sign the petition asking him to review the cases of the over 2,000 individuals sentenced to life without parole in federal prisons – a step towards restoring justice.

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.


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