On Monday, February 3, I mailed the following letter to President Barack Obama:
My name is Bernard Addison. I am an inmate at the Federal Prison Camp in Atlanta, Ga. I am almost 64 years old. I am sorry, I do not have the case number concerning the case I am writing you about. I was sentenced to 46 months in federal prison on 2/15/2012 in the Eastern District of Tennessee by Federal Judge Thomas Phillips in Knoxville, Tenn., for Conspiracy to Commit Mail Fraud. I pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge.
I am guilty of the offense. I got involved in the scheme after leaving the hospital in May 2011. I had suffered a mild stroke. I thought I was not doing anything wrong or illegal when I was solicited by a man who owned a “secret shopper” business. He paid his employees with postal money orders. I found out from a postal inspector that what I was doing was illegal. So I signed a “Cease and Desist” order.
I stopped working for a few months. But with my savings running out and no job prospects in sight, my former employer had closed his business and I was facing homelessness. I went back to work for “Frank” in December 2011. I was arrested on April 18, 2012. I pleaded guilty in June of that year to the Conspiracy to Commit Mail Fraud charge. I had never been in trouble with the law before. My conduct was caused by my illness, my inability to find a job, and my fear of being homeless. I regret my conduct and I regret reneging on the “Cease and Desist Order.”
I started serving my sentence on 4/1/2013. I am asking for clemency. At the time I started my sentence I had qualified for my retirement benefits under Social Security. And I had started receiving my benefits before I reported to prison. I am asking you to please consider giving me another chance to redeem myself. I am asking for a second chance.
Thank you, Mr. President, for your time.
Why am I asking for clemency?
Clemency means the disposition to forgive or spare; an act of leniency or to change to something less severe. So I mailed this letter to the President for two reasons. First, to explain what happened and why. You can not do this in court. Explanations are viewed as excuses. There are no mitigating circumstances in federal court, only aggravating circumstances that increase sentences.
The second reason is: I am simply asking the President for forgiveness. The President can “pardon” someone. Forgive you for your crime after reviewing the case. A pardon gives you a second chance. Or he can “commute” part of the sentence. Commute means to reduce the time you have to serve.
I am guilty. I am almost 64 years old. I had never been in trouble before. I am sorry for the crime I committed. And there were mitigating circumstances that courts do not handle. They only deal with the law.
The mitigating circumstances are my health at the time the offense occurred. This is a major factor. My inability to find work. I was too old to hire and my health condition made matters worse. Finally, I was afraid of my impending homeless, because I had used up the last of my savings. All of these contributed to my crime. These are excuses in court. But they are major mitigating factors too.
As Jesus said during the sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:7: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” There is no mercy in court, only the law. Only a person, the President, can give mercy. So I wrote him a letter asking for it.
Comments can be emailed to email@example.com or mailed to him at the prison camp:
FPC-Atlanta; Dorm D
P.O. Box 150160
Atlanta, GA 30315