30 Mother’s Days without my mom 💔

By Miquelle West

Since I was 10 years old, I’ve had to ‘celebrate’ Mother’s Days with my mom, Michelle West, in prison. An occasion that is meant to elicit joy and celebration always looms as a vivid reminder that she’s scheduled to spend her remaining holidays inside. 

My mom received a mandatory federal life sentence that would not be mandatory if she was sentenced today. This Mother’s Day weekend, I want to tell you about the person she is and ask you to  support her clemency, as that is the only way for her to get home.

When my mom went to prison, my world shattered. She had never gone to jail or even been arrested or in any kind of trouble before this. It wasn’t until I got a little older that I really understood her life sentence was forever. To this day, my mother tries to protect me from the reality of her sentence by doing everything she can to support and love me from prison.

My mom has always stressed education. Even after she went to prison, my mom would find out what books I had to read for school, and she would order them, so that she could read them in prison. She would then call me to discuss the themes and messages in the books. 

Since I’ve graduated college, my mother has helped me with every admissions and job application I’ve ever done. She has studied and turned herself into a resume expert – even immersing herself with information about social media to help me excel professionally. 

When I look back on all of this, I realize how her actions demonstrated the importance of studying, education, and intellect. Not only did she want the best for me, she wanted me to be able to do anything I put my mind to. So she showed me that if she could do it from prison, I had no excuse.

There’s also no excuse that for the 30th consecutive Mother’s Day, my mom sits in a cell in Minnesota, half a country away from me. It’s not lost on me that so many other families are experiencing similar situations. So many families were rocked by the extreme sentencing of the 1980s and 90s. Judges weren’t able to consider situations, often forced to tear families apart at the seams. The judge who sentenced my mom even remarked that his hands were tied despite the violence, abuse and coercion she was suffering in her toxic relationship. 

In the last 20 years the laws have changed, giving more judicial discretion to sentence fairly, but it has not been made retroactive. So my mother remains in prison, despite multiple prison staff writing in support of her character and her impressive prison record – which is full of achievements and accolades.  

So today I’m asking y’all to join me and the over 200,000 people who support Michelle West’s immediate release! It’s my hope that this is her last Mother’s Day inside. She’s been gone long enough! 🤞