In 2012, Arlan “Showly” Moss was arrested for selling a gram of MDMA (worth $40) and sentenced to five years in prison. The 31-year-old musician then served two and a half years, much of which he spent in maximum security prisons.
“My son wasn’t able to visit me because a majority of the facilities I was in were too far and his mother didn’t have a car,” Showly recounts. “So I didn’t see my son for two years.”
Showly grew up in a housing project in Bridgeport, where he saw men in his family in and out of prison for drug sales. Serving time seemed “normal” to him. When Showly was twelve, his older brother was sentenced to eight years for selling a $40 bag of cocaine. Showly was 17 when he first sold drugs; he had a job at Walmart, and saw how much more money his friends were making as dealers.
“You see people with nine-to-five jobs, but you don’t see any progression in their lives. You see them coming back to the same project apartment... barely making ends meet,” Showly recalls. “Sometimes it feels to you that the only way that you can make a progression in your life or strive for something greater is to break the rules.”
Prosecutors are twice as likely to seek a mandatory minimum sentence for Black defendants as white defendants when they are charged with the same offense.