"Tameka Drummer," graphite on paper, 12¾″ × 17″. 2022
Tameka Drummer was unjustly sentenced to life in prison for drug possession
Tameka Drummer was formerly incarcerated in Tennessee and served time for two past crimes in the 1990s before moving to Mississippi. In 2006, she was pulled over by a traffic cop who claimed she was swerving and had an expired license plate. The officer claimed Drummer gave them permission to search her car, which led to the discovery of marijuana and cocaine on her person.
Because of extreme sentencing laws in Mississippi, Drummer—a mother of four—was arrested and convicted as a “habitual offender” and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Drummer unsuccessfully challenged the extreme sentence in court. Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves also rejected calls by grassroots advocates who lobbied his office to pardon her. Tameka Drummer is currently incarcerated within the Mississippi Department of Corrections.
“Habitual Offender” laws exist in many states across the country with origins in slave era legislation. Such laws are designed to over-incarcerate the poor and impose harsh and unjust sentences on mostly Black people within the criminal justice system.
Artwork and writing by Joe Ward, published June 16, 2023