He saved his son and got a life sentence


Dicky Joe Jackson’s son needed a bone marrow transplant to save his life. Unable to pay the hundreds of thousands of dollars for the surgery, Dicky Joe transported meth to make the money. Now he’s in jail for life unless he’s granted clemency.

n November of last year, the ACLU released a report, “A Living Death,” that documents the more than 3,200 men and woman serving life sentences without chance of parole for nonviolent offenses.  Among them is Dicky Joe Jackson in the Forrest City Federal Correctional Institution, Forrest City, AR. A trucker from Boyd, Texas, Jackson did not have the means to pay for a life saving bone-marrow transplant his then 2-year-old son, Cole, required. Through community fundraisers, the family raised just $50,000. However, the boy’s bills required $250,000 more for surgery. Jackson then made a bad, desperate choice. He started carrying meth in his truck to earn the money from a local drug dealer for the surgery to proceed. After the surgery, Cole still required a monthly treatment that cost $4,000, which Jackson also covered by transporting meth.

Cole lived but at a price. Jackson was arrested in 1995. A judge later disciplined for the overly harsh sentences he routinely handed down sentenced Jackson to life. He has so far served 18 years of a life sentence. The federal prosecutor who tried Jackson’s case wrote a letter supporting clemency for Jackson. The prosecutor, now a criminal court judge in Dallas, wrote, “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.”

Listen to this NPR program on Jackson’s plight: http://snapjudgment.org/ultimate-sacrifice

Read this piece in Guernica Magazine about Jackson: http://www.guernicamag.com/features/the-life-sentence-of-dicky-joe-jackson-and-his-family/