Ramona Brant speaks to UTC students about her pardon from former President Obama
Brant served 21 years in prison for a crime she did not commit.
UTC students had the opportunity to hear from Ramona Brant Friday night.
Brant shared her story about former President Barack Obama granting her clemency. She served 21 years in prison for a crime she did not commit.
Ramona Brant says she's grateful to be free and to be the voice for the women, who are still in prison, that she left behind.
“Ramona Brant is a survivor of domestic violence and a victim of the court system,” Brant said.
Ramona Brant was sentenced to life in prison for conspiracy to possess and distribute cocaine. She had no intention of committing this crime, but she was dating the man who did, making her guilty to the court system.
“Here I am the person that had hospital records, police records. I'm the victim. How can you sentence me to life in prison?” Brant added.
Brant says she went before the same judge twice who told her he wanted the record to show that he did not want to sentence Brant to life.
“According to the structure of the law, he could not hand down his own sentence,” Brant explained. “He had to follow the guidelines, therefore, the life sentence was mandatory.”
Brant says hearing the judge say she will serve life in prison took a toll on her because her mother was in the courtroom, and she would soon leave behind her two sons.
“To see her face like I just saw her spirit crack,” Brant said. “I can't believe that this system that says you're innocent until proven guilty, you are a citizen of the United States and you have rights. And everything was failing me at that moment.”
Eventually Brant's story ended up on former President Barack Obama’s desk
In December of 2015, Brant was granted clemency, and then in February she was released from prison.
Brant says she keeps the letter from President Obama close to her heart and plans to hang it up in her office.
“It's a jewel, it's a treasure and it's bitter sweet,” said Brant.
Brant currently works for the human resources department in Charlotte, North Carolina. Part of her role is to help those released from prison find a job.