President Donald Trump’s time in office is running short.
On Wednesday, January 20, Joe Biden will succeed the former reality television host as the most powerful person in the United States. However, even as the world seemingly counts down the seconds in unison, the ever-unpredictable President Trump is still looking to make headlines however he can.
One area of focus for Trump (and those who’ve chosen to remain with his administration) is who deserves to be the beneficiary of his clemency power. According to the New York Times, as of Monday, Jan. 18, “those under consideration include such disparate figures as Sheldon Silver, the disgraced former New York Assembly speaker, and the rapper Lil Wayne, who pleaded guilty last month to a gun charge.”
Notably, President Trump’s longtime personal lawyer — and inadvertent Borat Subsequent Moviefilm star — Rudolph Giuliani does not expect to receive a pardon. Nor should he. But there is, unquestionably, a staggeringly long list of names that represents citizens of the United States who should absolutely be considered for clemency.
One of them is Parker Coleman Jr.
If, as the New York Times details, “some of the pardons and commutations are likely to go to people whose supporters say they were given disproportionately long sentences or subject to other miscarriages of justice, or who have proven themselves rehabilitated,” then commuting the sentence of Coleman Jr. should be a no-brainer.
Kyle Kazan agrees. As a retired law enforcement officer and the current CEO of Glass House Group, one of the fastest growing cannabis companies in the U.S., he told Bloom & Oil that he was first made aware of Parker’s situation while sitting on a panel focused on equity initiatives.
“I was seated next to Cheri Sicard, who has made it her life’s work to right the wrongs of these terrible injustices,” Kazan recalls. “On that panel was also a person who had recently been granted his release thanks to her help. I asked her if we could work together and she kindly said yes. She then introduced me to Parker Coleman Jr. and his family.”
Here are the facts: Parker Coleman Jr. is currently serving a six-decade sentence for a nonviolent marijuana conspiracy offense. Coleman currently sits in prison while, simultaneously, thousands of investors are making millions of dollars while essentially “violating” the very federal marijuana laws that landed Parker in prison.
Upon meeting Parker’s parents — Tracey and Parker Coleman Sr.— Kazan resolved to do everything in his power to see Parker released and given his life back.
On Jan. 11, Kazan sent an open letter to President Trump urgency him to consider Parker for a pardon.
“Now in his mid-30s,” Kazan wrote, “and having already served a decade of his sentence, unless Parker is granted a second chance at life by you, he will be in his 80’s when he is released, a de facto life sentence.”
Given the success Kazan has found at the helm of Glass House Group, he’s trying to use the platform he’s built to ensure that no victims of America’s failed War on Drugs are left behind in the shift to a legalized market.
He also feels everyone in a similar position to his own needs to speak up — now.
“Cannabis businesses absolutely have an obligation to speak up on matters of criminal justice,” Kazan says. “How could we not? We are seeking to build businesses while breaking the same laws that keep people locked away and serving hard time with murderers and rapists. To not recognize this ‘Bizarro World’ and try to do something about it would be immoral.”
Kazan’s plea also comes after efforts from the day of Parker’s arrest onwards made by his parents. In an email to Bloom & Oil, Tracey and Parker Coleman Sr. detailed their tireless attempts to secure their son’s release.
“From the very beginning,” they wrote, “we have made all efforts possible on Parker’s behalf to allow him to be released from prison. From making an appeal to the Supreme Court, to filing a 2255 motion to vacate his sentence, posting a letter on social media regarding Parker’s case seeking help on his behalf, and even sending that same letter to Kim Kardashian West. Recently, we emailed Attorney General William Barr for Compassionate Release during this pandemic through a link that one of our generous supporters provided. Parker himself has also filed for clemency. Despite all this and more, and the help of several other supportive parties, nothing has happened.”
In terms of what it means for them see their Black son imprisoned in the prime of his life for a crime that’s now earning (mostly white) investors legal millions, they’re anguish and rage is understandably potent.
“Cannabis’ legal status in the U.S. means nothing to us,” they emphasized. “We still have a son serving a 60-year sentence on a ghost marijuana charge. We live in fear, never knowing what the next day will bring for Parker as long as he is in a maximum-security prison. We cannot talk to him, let alone see our son on this side of the fence. At the same time, others go on living and working in this multi-billion-dollar industry. He serves a life sentence in inhumane conditions, and our family has been ripped apart.”
Tearing families apart is familiar territory for President Trump and those who have enabled him by turning his demands into policy, but what of putting one back together? While it would do little to remove the stain the past four years will assuredly leave on the U.S. for as long as it continues to hold together, it would still represent a tipping of the scales back towards to true justice.
For Tracey and Parker Coleman Sr., it’s also the day they look forward to with every breath they take. Denied their rightful voice in this fight for far too long, let us end with their direct message to the White House, as shared with Bloom & Oil:
“Our message to the White House is this: ask yourself how you would feel if Parker were your son, grandson, brother, or friend, sentenced to 60 years in a penitentiary for a marijuana charge, at this moment in history. Not knowing from one day to the next if he is still alive. Just hoping to get a phone call from him, every hour, because even hearing his voice is priceless! You have the power at this time to change this cruel and unjust punishment for so many who are undergoing these same circumstances. We are pleading to you to put yourself in our situation for a moment, and feel our anxiety and the daily pain of not knowing if you will ever see your beloved son again! What will you do? Pardon Parker Coleman!”