The Amerikan Justice System has freed the "British Nanny", Louise Woodward. Now Kemba Smith is free!

You may not be familiar with the Kemba Smith story but it is really a sad one. The entire story was published in the Emerge magazine, May 1996. A summary of what happened is in the letter to the president (below).  It was the successful campaign of individuals and organizations such as FAMM(Families Against Mandatory Minimums) that convinced President Clinton to sign her petition of clemency in December 2000.

The items below are for your information only.  This is what was posted on this site prior to Kemba’s freedom to assist the readership in assisting the clemency process for Kemba.  If you know of any other persons that might be in a similar situation, a letter writing campaign may work for that person also, as well as contacting organizations like FAMM.




Justice For Kemba Smith




Your Name Address (or e-mail address) City, State and Zip Code

President William Clinton

United States of America

The White House 

Dear President Clinton:

This letter is written on behalf of Kemba N. Smith and my strong belief that she was denied justice when she was sentenced to 24.5 years for, what was described by the federal Prosecutor as, a "minor player" in a drug conspiracy case.

Kemba Smith, a 26 year-old, former Hampton University student, was sentenced to 24.5 years in prison under the mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines, for lying to federal officials(not providing information of the location of her boyfriend who was wanted by the FBI), and aiding and abetting a known drug dealer (purchasing a car in her name for him) who was her violent batterer, boyfriend. The prosecutor stated during the course of the trial that Miss Smith was not a major player in the drug case, that she never handled or used the cocaine involved in the case and testimony revealed that she acted under duress and threat of extreme physical and mental abuse.

Kemba had never been in trouble or involved in any way with law enforcement, or the court system prior to this incident. When she left her Virginia home bound for college, Kemba had been a model child in her community. Letters were written by community leaders to the judge in the case to indicate this and to plea for leniency and a second chance for this young lady.

At the age of 20, Ms. Smith was a victim of vicious physical and mental abuse at the hands of her boyfriend. Her battering so severe as to cause behavior which is consistent with all the classic pathology of that which is considered "battered woman syndrome". The Judge at her sentencing essentially admitted that he does not believe that this condition exists and rejected the notion that this college student, despite the beatings and mental abuse should have been able to make rational decisions.

Despite the testimony of two professional mental health experts who assessed that her actions were clearly directed under duress, coercion and threat of a violent batterer. A man, who had killed his best friend and closest criminal ally and, had repeatedly informed her that he would harm her family. Not to have considered these circumstances, especially in the light of her age is an outrageous miscarriage of justice.

Anthony Lewis wrote this in his New York Times column on October 31, 1997, ". . . it takes no great psychological expert to know that women in her situation can lose their free will. Would a sane, civilized system of criminal justice incarcerate her for 24 years ? "

The May, 1996 issue of Emerge magazine presented Kemba's story in a multi-page article entitled, "Kemba's Nightmare". You may want to familiarize yourself with the events that have led me to be outraged by the lack of reason which governed this court's decision in this regard.

I urge you to take a serious look at the statistics prepared by the U.S. Sentencing Commission and to read the works of Angela Browne and Dr. Lenore Walker, which explores women of color in prisons and domestic violence. Then ask yourself these questions, "Is this justice in America?" "Do I want this kind of injustice to be meted out by the Justice Department operated under my watch?' I am asking that you explore these questions and act to make justice work.

Kemba Smith has already served twenty months in prison. I feel that she has served enough time and should be released and be united with her 2 1/2 year old son and family.

The reality is that a young middle-class girl made a some bad decisions. Suppose you would have had to pay with 24 years of your life following the "didn't even inhale incident"? Should she have to pay with 24 years of her life because she fell for the wrong guy?

 I sincerely hope that you are willing to act courageously and encourage Attorney General Reno to take aggressive action to quickly bring justice to this case.

Yours very truly,

Your name

Your address

City, State Zip Code

Telephone number (optional) 

cc: Attorney General




Last Modified 2/9/2003


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