Don’t Incarcerate Drug Addicts! Get Them the Treatment They Need!

Don’t Incarcerate Drug Addicts! Get Them the Treatment They Need!

Hello! My name is Kendra Ward and I am 33 years old. I am in federal prison for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 50-plus grams of meth. I am six years into my 18.4-year sentence. 

In “the feds” you must serve 85% of your time. As of now my release date is July 2031. At the end of this I will have served 15 years and nine months! 

I was a drug addict who was selling my drug of choice (meth) to supply my habit. I knew there would be consequences for my actions, but never in my wildest nightmares did I think I would be taken away from my kids and family for this long! 

So, a little more of my story: I was a single parent struggling to pay the bills. I was a waitress, but me and my little family were making it. I had been clean for five years. Then I made the mistake of letting an ex-boyfriend back into my life when my husband was in prison. 

Don’t miss our 50 at 50 series: one current or former prisoner published a day until New Year’s Day 2022.

My ex-boyfriend was a drug addict and dealer. Things started to get easier financially. But before I knew it, I had relapsed and was addicted again. Not too long after I let him back into my life he was arrested. He was in my car when it happened, and the officers left his phone with all his contacts and his drugs in my car. They also conveniently left my car parked at the store and didn’t impound it. 

I later learned they did this on purpose to see if I would follow in his footsteps and sell drugs. I did. That was in May 2015 and by October of that year I was arrested on several manufacturing/delivery charges. Then the feds picked up the case. When they interviewed me, they admitted to leaving the drugs and phone there for me. They felt if they could get me, they could get to the bigger fish. I was just a pawn in their game.

When I got to prison it was mandatory that I take a 12-hour drug-education course. In that course they taught us that they realize they are making a mistake by locking us up for years and that drug addiction is a disease and we need treatment. 

A recent study on recidivism for drug addicts showed long-term prison sentences are ineffective. However, long-term treatment programs and long-term drug courts are effective. 

I haven’t been offered any more treatment since that class six years ago. My sentence is too long, and I won’t be offered those programs till the end of it. 

This War on Drugs has gotten way out of hand! I was a drug addict, not a major player. I’m in here with cartel members and child molesters and I have more time than most of them. 

Those who have been following this 50-year War on Drugs, I’m sure you have noticed the top drug dealers just get replaced by other dealers when they are arrested. The drug trade has not missed a beat. I believe that is because the system does not fix what is broken inside of us. 

My children are growing up without me. They need me so much and because I’m defeated in here I can’t give them the answers they want to hear when they ask me when I am coming home. All I can tell them is pray to God mommy comes home sooner rather than later. 

These long sentences for drug addicts hurt everyone involved. My family is struggling to make it without me. My parents are getting older. My husband and children’s father recently passed away. It’s hard! 

Covid-19 has been an utter nightmare in prison and outside. I worry more for my family than myself. The world is a very scary place right now and being helpless, locked up and forgotten is really taking a toll on my mental health. I worry about how my kids are going to make it another decade without me. Because of Covid I have not gotten to touch them since January 2020. 

I hope one day soon America can finally come up with a better solution to the War on Drugs. I hope the country can help us proud citizens be reunited with our families and get us the treatment we need. There is hope for us. 

Thank you for letting me share my story!

At the age of 27, Ms. Ward was charged with cConspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance, methamphetamine 50+ grams. She plead guilty and received 18.3 years as a first-time nonviolent drug offender. You can view her full bio here.

At the age of 27, Ms. Ward was charged with cConspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance, methamphetamine 50+ grams. She plead guilty and received 18.3 years as a first-time nonviolent drug offender. You can view her full bio here.

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