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Lisa Hanna


19 Years, 7 Months

Meth Cospiracy

I enlisted in the Army in 1980, and my son, Steven, was born in 1982 while I was stationed in Germany. Almost ten years later I was nearing the end of the 'paper chase' of Law School in Michigan when my son, my only child, died. Three days later my grandmother passed away. I began to drink heavily, received my law school degree, and moved to California.

I had once experimented with illegal drugs but when again exposed to them at such a low point in my life, I became a regular user. Hindsight allows me to understand that I was trying to dull emotional pain, and feel right with a world that was hard and cruel. I was self-medicating my later diagnosed bi-polar disorder, which had been triggered by the trauma of the deaths.

By the middle of the 1990's I was so depressed that I moved back to Michigan to gain the emotional support of family and to work with a friend who had opened a law practice in Indiana. My friend talked me into seeking treatment for depression, as I was behaving unreliably while self-medicating with meth and alchohol.

I did not admit my substance abuse, and was only diagnosed with depression at the time. I was released from treatment with some new understanding, but no cure. I was severely addicted to methamphetamine by then. Like many addicted women, my relationships were violent or co-dependent, sometimes both.

I married my husband who had remained a friend throughout the years, but it wasn't long after our vows of love that he began beating me severely and manipulating my addiction into a business for profit. I had passed the bar exam in February, 98. He beat me when I objected to his selling drugs, and threatened to tell the Bar Association I was an addict. Later he would say he would kill me if I left him. I left six months after the wedding, severing all ties so he couldn't find me.

A few months after I left him, he was arrested and falsely told the Drug Enforcement Agency that I was his supplier with a source in California. A niece arrested with him supported his story.

I believe that due to his arrest, and then his naming people to the DEA, that my life was in jeopardy. I fell apart from fear and had what people call a 'nervous breakdown.' I was under no indictment, was never told not to leave the area, and so I moved to Florida in June of 1999. In July I was indicted, and apprehended in September of 1999.

Based on the words of others facing long sentences, I was charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 1,000 grams of meth. I pled guilty only after being assured by my appointed counsel that trial would almost certainly result in life without parole.

I waived my right to appeal. Despite my law school education, I still didn't know what any of this meant in a legal sense, and was sentenced to 19 years, seven months.

My family was shocked to find out that I was addicted to methamphetamine, and more devastated to learn of drug dealing and the 'kingpin' status the courts gave me.

I'm fortunate to have a loving family that has stuck with me. I'm in a prison 24 hours by car from them, and I miss them terribly. I'm in Florida; they're all in Michigan.

Updated 3/2/10

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