"Let's put an end to this practice of making criminals out of kids who simply need education or rehabilitation."
Dwayne Sessom has been a public servant for much of his career, starting at age 23 when he was hired as a Corrections Officer for the Comanche County jail in Lawton, Oklahoma. He later took the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training (CLEET) course and became a reserve Deputy Sheriff. During his time serving as a Corrections Officer, he realized that many of the incarcerated inmates were not the "bad guys" he typically had been picturing. Many were incarcerated for simple possession of marijuana or narcotics and would have greatly benefited from rehabilitation over incarceration. Time and again, Dwayne was directly exposed to the damage to families and individuals that our drug laws and legal system cause.
He quickly realized that drug laws were hurting people more than the drugs themselves. He helped the Sheriff's Department Narcotics officers on occasion and witnessed drug arrests firsthand. After four years of working corrections and as a Reserve Deputy, he realized that this was not a profession that he was comfortable doing. He describes that it felt almost hypocritical to be a part of a system that caused so much damage to people who really needed help.
Dwayne decided to take action after his son was cited for simple possession of a small amount of marijuana. He watched as the charge cost his 19-year-old son over $1,000 in legal fees and resulted in a mandatory six-month revocation of his driver's license. Knowing how commonly this ordeal happens to families every day convinced Dwayne to get involved in public speaking and join LEAP. Most drug convictions are for possession, he says, and the laws that make the drugs illegal are far more damaging to individuals and their families than the drugs themselves. As Dwayne puts it, it's time for us to change our laws and help those who need it instead of locking them up and destroying their lives.
Dwayne is now a Federal Department of Defense employee and worked as a federal contractor prior to that, holding a Top Secret security clearance.