New study shows pain of incarceration for black families

By Robert Rooks, Director of the NAACP's Criminal Justice Program

Cross-posted from

Hamedah Hasan, a devoted mother of three, fled a physically abusive relationship and sought shelter with her cousin. Hamedah's primary goal was to provide a safe living environment for herself and her three children. After several months of living with her cousin, he began asking her to run minor errands for his drug operation. Although she never used drugs and felt she had no choice but to participate at the time, Hamedah admittedly chose to engage in the wrong doing.

In 1993, she was charged with conspiracy to deliver crack cocaine, which made her liable for all drugs ever associated with her cousin's drug operation, regardless of the role she played. As a result, Hamedah was sentenced to 27 years in prison.

Hamedah's charge was a first time, nonviolent offense and she has already served 16 years behind bars. The federal prison system has paid approximately $410,000 dollars to incarcerate and keep Hamedah locked away. In addition, Hamedah's children have grown up without their mother present in their daily lives.