There may be some of you out there who still haven’t watched to the end of the much-discussed AMC TV series “Breaking Bad,” the story of Walter White, an otherwise ordinary man who becomes a big-time methamphetamine dealer. No spoilers here.
But we will tell you what happened to Dicky Joe Jackson, the Florida truck driver who was no Walter White, but did sell some meth to help pay for his son’s medical treatments. He got life in prison without parole.
Jackson (pictured) became yet another victim of the seemingly insane sentencing policies for nonviolent offenders, recently documented in a report by the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU found 3,278 inmates in U.S prisons currently serving life terms with no hope of parole for minor, often drug-related offenses.
Jackson and his family tried everything they could to raise money for his 2-year-old son who had an extremely rare autoimmune disorder known as Wikott-Aldrich Syndrome. The boy needed a bone marrow transplant, and his 12-year-old sister was a match.
But the operation cost $250,000 — likely more money than Jackson had made in his whole life. And in another familiar and familiarly depressing part of the story, the Jacksons had recently lost their health insurance.
They tried various fundraisers, with some success. They persuaded celebrities to donate memorabilia that added up to $50,000 in sales. But they soon hit a dead end.
Then a local drug dealer offered Jackson a deal. Transport payloads of meth to the west coast on his truck and he’d be paid $5,000 per run. It worked for a while. But eventually, Jackson fell afoul of the law.
Because truck drivers often rely on speed of various kinds to stay awake on long drives, Jackson had two previous meth convictions. His third strike put him away for life.
“I know that what I did was not right or legal, even in a life and death situation, as ours was,” he told the online magazine Salon, in a prison interview. “I’m no angel. But in my 42 years of life, I have never harmed a soul. There are people in here doing less than me for contract killings and child molestation.”
Even the tough-as-nails prosecutor who put Jackson away believes he got a raw deal.
“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,” wrote Michael Snipes in a letter pleading for Jackson to be granted clemency.
Jackson has now exhausted his appeals. He tried asking for clemency from U.S. President Barack Obama, but his request was denied.
Sources: Salon, ACLU, Sunshine State News