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Clarence Aaron was just 23-years old and in college when he was given three life sentences for his alleged involvement in a drug distribution ring. Aaron had no criminal record and the felony was non-violent. But he admits that he introduced two friends to one another who were involved in drugs, and didn’t do anything else.
Aaron has been featured on a PBS Illinois documentary about the long prison sentences given to non-violent drug offenders like himself. Some receive several life sentences, even based on the testimony of others. Aaron was asked difficult and specific questions about what happened to him, why he thinks he received his sentence, and why he believes the sentence was too harsh.
How did you get involved in this plot?
Because I hooked up two friends of mine. I had some friends out of Mobile, and they was in some type of drug activities, and I met some guys out of Louisiana that I became friends with, and I found out that they was into some type of drug activities. So me going back and forth from college home, I used to talk about these guys. They’d had nice cars and thing like that, and I thought that they might be dealing some type of drugs or something like that. So one particular day, my friend Robert called me at Louisiana to ask me, could I introduce the two parties? I said, “Yes.” He say, “Well, if you can introduce us, I’ll get you fifteen hundred dollars, if you can introduce us we can come to some type of agreement.” I said, “Oh, I have no problem with that.” So I got in touch with Gary and told Gary that my friends out of Alabama wanted to meet him. He said okay. … [so I] took Robert over to Louisiana to meet Gary. …
Were you involved in trafficking?
Not directly. But I was involved because I had introduced the two parties and the two parties didn’t know each other well enough to trust each other. … Neither party trusted each other so I had to be there just to smooth the way between the two parties… .
So you were involved?
Somewhat I was, yeah. The only thing I can see I was involved in was introducing the two parties. As far as them making some type of transaction, whatever they wanted to get from each other, I don’t know, but I did introduce the two parties … .
If you were involved, why are you complaining?
Why? Because I felt that I received too much time. I got charged with things that the other guys in my conspiracy did not get charged with. I’m the lowest end of the totem pole. Only thing I did was introduce the two parties, and I got charged with the most of everything. I got the most time out of everybody.