CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A Charlotte woman is speaking only to Eyewitness News about being locked up behind bars for 21 years, and how President Obama's clemency saved her.
In 1995, Ramona Brant was sentenced to life without parole for a first time non-violent conspiracy charge.
She'd been in a relationship with a drug dealer and told Channel 9 that even though she didn't actively sell the drugs, a judge sentenced her to prison for life for knowing what was happening.
“I don't deny that. I was there. I knew, but I wasn't a drug dealer,” Brant said.
Police said her boyfriend led a North Carolina drug ring but Brant said she wasn't allowed to present evidence that he was abusing her.
“I just began to pray and I told God I trust him, that I knew I messed up my life,” Brant told Channel 9. “I made poor decisions but I trust him to help me through this process.”
She shared with Channel 9 anchor Erica Bryant that one of the hardest parts about being in prison was being separated from her young children
“My youngest son would fight in school to get in trouble so he could come where I was because he thought that was the only way that he could be where I was,” Brant said.
For 21 years she fought, exhausting every appeal. Her case caught the attention of groups trying to free those sentenced under strict drug laws.
Finally, in February, under Obama's clemency project, she was set free.
He even took her and others to lunch.
“We gave him our thoughts and hoped he would listen to us, which he did, and he took some of the advice and more people have come home,” said Brant.
Brant is currently living in a transitional home run by Changed Choices. The nonprofit supports women rebuilding their lives after incarceration.
“These are our neighbors,” said Karen Kovach. “They are employees with incredible potential. They are parenting children in our community. If we can provide them supports and resources they need to be successful, then everyone wins”
Brant is trying to find full time employment and volunteering with her new Guardian Angel program. She is asking everyone to adopt an inmate.
Cox Media Group