Kemba Smith and Mandatory Minimum Drug Sentencing

September 17, 1999

When will justice be served and the punishment fit the crime? Those questions are being asked by the parents of 28-year-old Kemba Smith, a casualty of this country’s war on drugs and what many believe are unjust federal drug sentencing laws. Kemba, a first-time offender, is serving nearly 25 years in federal prison on charges stemming from an abusive relationship with a reputed drug dealer. National media have covered Kemba’s case over the past few years, beginning with a cover story in the May 1996 edition of Emerge magazine.

Last month, a federal judge in Norfolk, Virginia denied an appeal seeking a new trial for Smith, calling her part in the drug trafficking conspiracy "direct and extensive." Gus and Odessa Smith, Kemba’s parents, are leading a national crusade to call attention to federal mandatory drug sentencing laws that led to their daughter’s excessively harsh sentence. Yesterday, they participated in a congressional drug issue forum sponsored by Rep. Maxine Waters and the Congressional Black Caucus.


  • Gus And Odessa Smith, parents of Kemba Smith.

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