Rashella Reed deserves clemency, supporters say

When she was convicted on wire fraud and money laundering charges, Rashella Reed was a school teacher, with more than 17 years of teaching experience in Atlanta and DeKalb County public schools.

She invested in a store called The Baby Spot, and that’s where things went wrong, according to a letter from Alice Marie Johnson, who wrote in support of Reed’s bid for clemency. Johnson is a prison reform advocate and former federal inmate who served time at Federal Corrections Institution in Aliceville, Ala. where Reed is currently incarcerated.

According to prosecutors, the store was used as a front to buy food stamp benefits and WIC vouchers from recipients for cash.

“Rashella has taken full responsibility for her actions and poses no safety risk to the community," Johnson wrote. "She hopes to raise the voices of those that do not have the words to express what an experience like this does  to a person, their families and all that is connect to them, by working  with organizations that care about these issues,” Johnson wrote.

Reed has served six years of a 14-year sentence. During her incarceration, she has continued to do what she loves, teaching GED classes, as well as classes in recreation and re-entry affairs, Johnson said. Reed also served as a dedicated usher in prison church services. The two also acted together in plays that Johnson wrote, and they attended church services together.

When Reed gets out of prison, she has support from family members. She could live with her parents or her sister, and her community has rallied behind her, said Johnson, who was herself granted clemency by President Donald Trump in 2018.

There is a job waiting for Reed when she’s released from prison, working with one of her father’s closest friends. She also has two children’s books that are complete and awaiting publication, Johnson said.

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