Australian Family Appeals To Obama To Release Single Mother From Prison Over Food Stamp Theft

| by Kathryn Schroeder

A personal appeal has been made to President Obama by an Adelaide, Australia family to release their daughter from prison where she is serving time for stealing food stamps from the US Government.

Louise Early was arrested for using a false social security number to try and obtain food stamps so she could feed her two daughters. She has served over one year of her two-year sentence.  

Early's family claims she was homeless and driven to desperation after her seven-year marriage to US marine Eugene Early fell apart and he failed to apply for her to become a US citizen, reports News Limited.

In 2009 Louise and Eugene divorced, leaving her struggling in Baltimore to support her two children who are US and Australian citizens by birth. Without US citizenship, Early was not eligible for government assistance. She struggled for six-months with the Foreign Affairs Department to get her children passports so she could return to Australia. Her passport had lapsed and she was living as an illegal alien because of mistakes in passport processing made by The Australian Foreign Affairs Department.

"She couldn't even apply for her children to obtain their food stamps which they were entitled to as US citizens because she was not," Early's mother Jenny Smith said. "She was desperate, homeless and made a silly decision to use someone else's social security number. It was a desperate attempt to feed the two children."

Early's family is asking President Obama for a "treaty transfer" with the Australian government so she can serve the remainder of her sentence - nine months - in an Adelaide prison. Her children are currently living with their grandparents in Hackham, Australia.

"We are not even asking for her to spend less time in jail, although the two-year penalty is over the top, we just want her back here so the children can visit," Mrs. Smith said.

Senator for South Australia, Nick Xenophon, has been lobbying Attorney General George Brandis on behalf of Ms. Early since November 2013. His argument is based on the ill-effects of her incarceration on her two Australian daughters. The Attorney General's department would not comment on the case to News Limited.

President Obama has refused to respond to the family, and Xenophon plans to appeal directly to him for clemency based on the suffering of Early's daughters Jenae and Kaylea and Early's own health conditions. She is bipolar, suffers from epilepsy, and may need a pacemaker to correct a heart condition.

Early's prison sentence ends in September but she can be kept for up to three months after by immigration authorities.