Our After the Victory series highlights Change.org petition starters who have won their campaigns. In our second installment, we spoke with Sharanda Jones.
Sharanda Jones, a first-time nonviolent drug offender, had spent over 16 years in prison and without parole in the federal system. It was unlikely she would ever leave.
Then, her daughter, Clenesha Garland, started a petition asking President Obama to release her mom from prison. With the help of more than 279,000 supporters, Sharanda’s petition gained attention, and on December 18, 2015 Sharanda was granted clemency by President Obama.
We spoke with Sharanda to find out how her she's doing since being released and how the number of signatures kept her going while she was in prison.
- What’s the first thing you do when you get up in the morning?
Thank God for blessing me with another day.
- What is the best advice you have ever received?
Pay negativity no attention.
- If you could meet and have lunch with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and why?President Barack Obama because he set me free.
- Do you remember when you heard that a petition had been started on your behalf? What did that feel like?
I felt like I had hope.
- Did you and Clenesha talk about the petition? What did you think as you saw your signature count grow and did you look at the comments?
We talked about the petition daily. As the numbers grew, I felt like some people still believe in second chances.
- What was the most difficult thing about running the campaign?
Getting people to understand that good people sometimes make bad choices.
- Describe the moment when you knew things might really change.
God showed me in a dream. It was a joy I cannot explain.
- What did you think as you saw your signature count grow and did you look at the comments?
As the signatures grew, I knew I had a chance. I did not look at the comments.
- What would you like to say to your supporters and what is one thing you want your signers to know?
I want to thank all my supporters from the bottom of my heart and let them know I will not let them down.
- What is one thing you would want to share with someone thinking of starting a petition, but maybe they’re feeling overwhelmed?
Have patience, the signatures do not come overnight. Do not give up no matter how the numbers look.