TAMECA DRUMMER #138477
UNIT CMCF 1A YARD
CENTRAL MISSISSIPPI CORRECTIONAL FACITLITY
PO BOX 88550
PEARL MS, 39208
LOCATED AT: Central Mississippi Correctional Facility
RELEASE DATE: LIFE
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Tameca L. Drummer 4/25/1974, Single, 4 children, 2 grandchildren in Memphis Tennessee.
A life sentence for less than 2 ounces of marijuana. That is the story of Tameca Drummer, who was regularly cited during attempts at reigning in Mississippi’s habitual offender laws during the past legislative session. Now, there is a new Change.org petition calling for her pardon.
Tameca Drummer is a 46 year old mother of 4 serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for possession of less than 2 ounces of marijuana. In 2008, Drummer was sentenced to life in prison. She was driving without a car tag in Alcorn county, she was pulled over, and the police then searched her car and they found less than two ounces of marijuana. She actually had the tag in her back seat. She was pulled over in Alcorn County Mississippi for not having a license plate. which lead to her car being searched. A proper tag was in the back seat. That’s the night her life sentence began.
Tameca has been in prison since she was 34 years old. Her youngest child was 4 when she was arrested. In April her child turned 16.
Tameca was sentenced under Mississippi’s crushing “habitual offender” law. The only hope for Tameca to ever leave prison alive is for you, Governor Reeves, to pardon her, grant her clemency or commute her sentence. You have the awesome power to give Tameca and her family their life back. Give a mother the chance to hold her child again. You hold her life in your hands. Her release would save Mississippi tax payers untold amounts of money and resources but also remove the stain of this injustice from our collective conscience.
But because of this, her youngest child who was just four years old at the time has grown up without a mother. She has now served 12 years of her life sentence.
Why did Drummer receive such an oppressive sentence?
Because of the state’s habitual offender laws that were written to enforce long, and even draconian, sentences on individuals who have prior convictions. The law works in different ways, but in Drummer’s case, she was previously convicted of a violent crime, a drug charge, and then, finally, the marijuana charge that landed her life without parole.
In the case of Drummer, she paid her debt to society with her past convictions, which is generally what we ask of prisoners. And each time she was convicted, the punishment got more serious while the charges against her tended to get less serious, not more serious. She went from a violent crime at 15 years old to marijuana possession, something that is legal or decriminalized in nearly half the states.
What has this meant to the state’s criminal justice system? A November 2019 analysis found that over 2,600 people have been incarcerated under these statutes. This includes 906 people serving 20 years or more in prison, and 439 people serving life sentences. There are 78 people who are serving life sentences for drug charges alone.
Taxpayers are spending about $20,000 per year to house Drummer. By the time Drummer is 70, taxpayers would have spent $700,000 on someone who is in prison for less than two ounces of marijuana. Is that a good use of taxpayer money?
Even after a series of criminal justice reforms, Mississippi continues to have the third highest incarceration rate in the world, more than all but two other states and every other industrialized country. At the same time, our state continues to fall behind economically, with a workforce participation rate that is growing at a slower pace than most other states. And more children grow up with just one parent in Mississippi than any other state in the country. This is all related.
Multiple bills that would have impacted habitual offender laws did not make it past the finish line this session and another bill that would have reformed parole for up to 2,000 prisoners was vetoed by Gov. Tate Reeves last month.
That shouldn’t be the last word. We know much needs to be done.
To help Drummer and others in a similar situation and to combat the state’s stubbornly high incarceration rate and the ever-growing cost to taxpayers, the state should continue to look for measures that reform parole and eliminate the state’s mandatory minimum habitual sentencing structure that imposes disproportionately long prison sentences on individuals, even for minor crimes.
At the end of the day, we are not safer because Drummer is in prison for the rest of her life, her children are not better off by being raised by someone other than their mother, and taxpayer money could certainly be better invested in something else.
These articles were written by:
Free Tameka Drummer - Petition Page - Jacqueline Temple started this petition
A Life Sentence for less than 2 ounces of marijuana - by Brett Kittredge