THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, did lack of insider clout keep Chrissy Taylor from getting clemency from Bill Clinton? She had support from Congress members, prosecutors and prison officials, but while fugitive multimillionaire Marc Rich and convicted cocaine trafficker Carlos Vignali had cause to celebrate this past Inauguration Day, she was left crying and facing at least five more years in prison.
Her dramatic story in her own words from the federal medical center in Fort Worth, Texas, next on LARRY KING LIVE!
Good evening, and welcome to a special edition of LARRY KING LIVE. We are coming to you from a federal medical center at Carswell Forth Worth, Texas. This is an institution that houses 1,335 female prisoners under federal detention.
Our guest tonight is Terri Christine "Chrissy" Taylor. We will call her Chrissy for the rest of the show. And we got onto this through a front page story in "The Wall Street Journal" that dealt with fact why wasn't Chrissy Taylor commuted on the last day of Clinton presidency when so many other questionable pardons and commutations were issued. We are here to get her story.
We thank you very much.
CHRISSY TAYLOR, CONVICTED IN DRUG CONSPIRACY: Thank you.
KING: This is a new -- you move around a lot in federal prison, right?
TAYLOR: Yes do you.
KING: How many have you been in?
TAYLOR: I've been in five federal institutions.
KING: And this is a medical center. Would you just explain what that means?
TAYLOR: Well, they house medical people here, they have a medical hospital here, but they also have general population here as well.
KING: So if some prisoner got sick somewhere, they might transport them here?
TAYLOR: They transport them here.
KING: And do you have specific duties here, Chrissy?
TAYLOR: Yes, I have a job.
KING: Which is?
TAYLOR: I work the orderly p.m. shift, which is basically I keep hospital clean.
KING: Do any nursing through work at all?
TAYLOR: No, no, it is basically just dusting, and keeping the floors shiny, and keeping it clean.
KING: And you have been in other federal prisons, right? Lexington, Tallahassee, they move you.
TAYLOR: Yes, they move you quite frequently.
KING: And you have served how long now?
TAYLOR: Eleven years.
KING: Of a 19-year sentence?
TAYLOR: Yeah, 19 years and seven months.
KING: Eligible for parole -- well, there is no parole, right?
TAYLOR: No parole.
KING: Time off for good behavior, you might get out when?
TAYLOR: With good behavior -- and I got a year off for drug treatment, and since the drug treatment program, so right now my out date is 2006.
KING: Let's tell this, go back in this whole story. You had a kind of rough young life, didn't you?
KING: Tell us about it.
TAYLOR: Basically, you know, my mother was a single parent, and she worked a lot, so I had a lot of time, you know, by myself, and...
KING: Where did you grow up?
TAYLOR: We moved, you know, frequently as a child. I lived in Atlanta, Georgia, for about eight years, and then -- then I moved to Texas with my mother, and that is where I resided until I got arrested. KING: I might add, by the way, that we invited prosecutor who was involved in this case. She declined to appear. Many are standing up for Chrissy, though, and we'll get to that. When did you first get into trouble?
TAYLOR: Well, when I was a teenager, when I was 17 years old, I met a much older man. He was 16 years older than me.
KING: And his name?
TAYLOR: Benjamin Alan Roark. And you know, I was pretty much, well, a lost soul, you know, trying to belong, trying to fit into an adult world.
KING: Did you have delinquency problems?
KING: No arrests?
TAYLOR: No. And you know, I had started experimenting with drugs whenever I was in high school.
KING: Before meeting Roark?
TAYLOR: Before meeting Roark, and when I met Roark, he -- he wanted to take care of me, he wanted me to move in with him right away, and you know, I finally thought I was going to be, you know, in an adult world, and...
KING: And what did say -- what did he do for a living?
TAYLOR: At that time, he told me that he bought cars and fixed them up and sold them. But I later found out that is not what he did.
KING: And did you think you were in love with him, or what?
TAYLOR: Oh, gosh, yes. I thought, you know, wow, finally I'm going to belong. I mean...
KING: Mr. Right.
TAYLOR: Yeah, Mr. Right. He ended up not being Mr. Right.
KING: Where did you live?
TAYLOR: I initially moved in with him in Houston, and I almost immediately after moving in with him, I started getting in trouble with the law.
TAYLOR: When I was 17 years old, about a month after I moved in with him, I was high on drugs, and I was at this shopping center, and I stole this piece of makeup, a little packet of makeup. And what happened was I did not know there was drugs in my purse, in my wallet that he had placed there. So it was, you know, when I went to jail for the misdemeanor, they found these drugs in my wallet, and he later, you know, admitted that he put them in there and he didn't tell me.
KING: So did you do time for that?
TAYLOR: No, I didn't. My state judge gave me probation. He said, you know, he did not want me go to state prison. He said I was too young, and so, that's what I did.
KING: And at this point you're still thinking Mr. Roark is all right?
TAYLOR: At this point I think that I was emotionally dependent on him, and I didn't see a way out. I thought, you know, this is where I'm supposed to be, and I'm going to stand with my man.
KING: And what was he doing that was wrong?
TAYLOR: At that point, you know, Alan really shielded me from his drug business, but I mean...
KING: But you were still using?
TAYLOR: Yes. I was...
KING: But you didn't know he was -- if he was doing anything illegal, you didn't know?
TAYLOR: He -- he basically -- he -- his motto was don't ask any questions, you know, and...
KING: And you didn't?
TAYLOR: No, I didn't.
KING: So you used drugs?
KING: But you didn't know he was dealing or doing whatever he was doing?
TAYLOR: I knew at that point -- I started seeing a lot of things that were suspicious. I mean, people would come over, and he would ask me to leave the room or they would go into the next room. And I really -- I really knew something was suspicious, but I didn't, you know, I didn't question him. I just...
KING: Not at all?
KING: So what happened? Tell us the story.
TAYLOR: Well, when I was -- Alan got arrested later on and he went to state prison.
TAYLOR: For? He violated his parole.
KING: Did you know he was on parole?
TAYLOR: Yes, I did. And...
KING: So you knew he had problems?
TAYLOR: Yes. He had been in prison before.
KING: And how did he violate it?
TAYLOR: Actually he got arrested for possession of narcotics.
KING: By this time you've got to know there's a problem here.
KING: But you're in love.
TAYLOR: I'm in love, and emotionally dependent and addicted to drugs, and addicted to Alan actually, you know, is more or less how it was. And -- so he went to state prison.
KING: And what did you do while he was in prison?
TAYLOR: Well, that was -- I mean, finally, you know, I started -- I started showing, you know, responsibility. I got a job working for my uncle at his delivery service.
KING: In Houston?
TAYLOR: Um-hmm. In Houston.
KING: And you're mother's still alive?
TAYLOR: Yeah, my mother's -- but we've been estranged off and on basically all my life.
KING: And did you keep in touch with Alan when he was in prison?
TAYLOR: Yes, I did.
KING: Visit him.
TAYLOR: Well, I used to take his mother sometimes to visit him, and -- but I -- you know, it was more or less we kept in touch with letters.
KING: The question here, of course, is should Chrissy Taylor remain incarcerated. Why was she not commuted? Pardons don't work when you're in prison; it's commutation then.
More of the story on this special presentation of LARRY KING LIVE.
Laura Bush is our special guest tomorrow night from the White House. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM BOMAN, TAYLOR'S UNCLE: I do believe in punishment, but I don't believe in destroying, total destruction of her life for a minor, a very minor part in a drug conspiracy that she was involved in with her sugar daddy that was twice her age.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: I don't want to skip anything here with Chrissy Taylor. You were arrested again with Roark before he violated parole for possession as well.
TAYLOR: Yes, before I was...
KING: He also says he planted those drugs, right?
TAYLOR: Well, they were his drugs, but, I mean, I had them in my purse at that time.
KING: Did you do time for that?
TAYLOR: No. I mean I did approximately a few months in county jail, and that's when my judge decided -- my state judge decided that I needed drug treatment.
KING: And you went to the drug treatment.
TAYLOR: Yes, I did.
KING: So, he's in jail. You got a job. You're in a drug treatment center, things are going all right. He gets out.
TAYLOR: He gets out in May of 1990. And we had kept in touch through letters, and he had told me that, you know, he wanted to do right by me. He wanted to marry me. He wanted to have kids with me, and he told me that he was going to do these things and he was going to make it up to me, and, you know, I wanted to believe him, you know.
And so when he got out, he contacted me, and, I went to his house, where he was with his mother, living with his mother at the time and we started seeing each other romantically again.
KING: And then what happened?
TAYLOR: And then what happened was when I was 19 years old...
KING: Did you think -- did he tell you he was OK now and he wasn't going to be a criminal any more? TAYLOR: Well, actually, what happened was my uncle gave him a job working with me. I mean, working for his delivery service, and Alan did not -- he just -- he just did not like the job. He did not like working those tough hours. He just wasn't really enthused about it at all.
And he told me, he says, you know, you've had a lot of pressure on you, and I'm going to getting ready to make sure you're OK, and I was like, you know, OK, Alan, you know and basically, I was just -- I did what he said, and I believed in him.
KING: What got you into trouble, big trouble?
TAYLOR: Well, when I -- one day, he asked me to help him. He needed me to drive him to Alabama. So I said, you know, why, Alan? He says, I need to go over there pick up an order, chemicals. And I said, Alan, you know, I really don't want to go. And he said, but Chrissy, you can't get in trouble.
And so I said, well, you know, Alan why can't you get someone else to go. I mean, I argued with him because I didn't want to be involved. I mean, I had never been involved in anything. I had never dealt drugs, manufactured drugs, trafficked drugs or anything.
KING: Were you still in rehab?
TAYLOR: At this point, I was going to NA and AA meetings and...
KING: So, you did go to Alabama?
TAYLOR: I Did.
KING: What happened there?
TAYLOR: Well, I picked up -- when we got there, he said, you know, basically he just said he needed me to drive. And when I got there, he said, you know, I need you go in and pick up this order.
KING: Into where?
TAYLOR: Into this chemical supply store. It was -- it's basically they sell all different types of industrial chemicals.
TAYLOR: Legal, all legal. Everything was legal.
KING: So, you go in and make the purchase.
TAYLOR: I go in...
KING: He couldn't make the purchase?
TAYLOR: He said that he couldn't do it because he had just -- you know, he had been in prison, and that, you know, he was known or something and that he would get in trouble... KING: Even though the chemicals were legal.
TAYLOR: ... because he was -- yes, even though the chemicals were legal. He just gave me some quick, fast excuse, and I went in. And...
KING: Bought them, bring them back to car.
KING: Then what?
TAYLOR: Well, then...
KING: Drive back to Houston.
TAYLOR: We drive back to Houston, and, Alan leaves for like three days.
KING: Don't know where he went?
TAYLOR: No, he told me he was going to go take care of some business, and at that time, I still was, you know, in contact with my uncle and...
KING: Was your uncle suspicious of him?
TAYLOR: My uncle was like, you know, girl, just don't get yourself in any trouble. You know don't let...
KING: Watch yourself.
TAYLOR: Don't get him get you in trouble.
KING: Did you tell your uncle about the Alabama trip?
KING: No one knew.
TAYLOR: No one knew.
KING: What happened then?
TAYLOR: Approximately two weeks later, I was asleep one day, and one morning, actually and he came in and he woke me up he said, Chrissy, I need you to go back to Alabama. And he said, you know, I can't trust anyone else. I need you to do this for me.
KING: Again to buy chemicals with him.
TAYLOR: No, actually, this time he didn't go.
KING: So you went.
TAYLOR: I went. I went. We argued. KING: He gave you the money to pay for it.
TAYLOR: He gave me the money. He gave me a list. He said, go there, pick up these chemicals, Chrissy. I already told you couldn't get in trouble. The chemicals were legal.
KING: These chemicals are not available in Texas?
TAYLOR: I later found out that they're not and that's why he...
KING: But they were legal in Alabama, and there was no question. You went in and just bought them. Then what?
TAYLOR: Yes, over the counter.
KING: OK, then, you bring them back to him.
TAYLOR: Then what happened next was I flew to Alabama, went to the chemical supply store, picked up the chemicals, and went to a hotel room to wait for him to pick me up. And when I got to the hotel room, I was supposed to call a friend of his and let them know what room I was in.
The next morning he came to pick me up. He drove from Houston to Alabama, and, you know, all I wanted to do was go home. I said, Alan, I just -- you know, I just want to go home, just take me home. As soon as we pulled out of the driveway of the hotel, the officers swooped in and arrested us.
TAYLOR: For -- well, conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine.
KING: OK, what so he was doing, not to any of your knowledge, was taking the legal chemicals you had bought, mixing it with other things to make this illegal drug...
KING: ... which he was selling.
KING: All right, you both -- were you shocked?
TAYLOR: I was shocked because I mean, I didn't -- I didn't know anything about conspiracy. You know, I didn't know anything about, you know, the federal system or anything like that. So, I was like, you know, conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine...
KING: They told you that right there?
TAYLOR: Right there upon arrest, you're arrested for conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine.
KING: And it's federal because you went interstate. TAYLOR: Yes.
KING: From Texas to Alabama.
TAYLOR: Actually, it was federal because, the federal government, they can pick up any drug case.
KING: We'll be right back with the story of Chrissy Taylor. We're at the Federal Medical Center Carswell, Fort Worth, Texas. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DIANE POLAN, TAYLOR'S CLEMENCY ATTORNEY: In retrospect, I think one of the things we didn't have is that we didn't have any political pull. And the reality is that some of the people who were pardoned did have political pull, not all of them. Other people who were pardoned and people who received commutations, some of their cases were judged on the merits. But there are other people like Chrissy who didn't have congresspeople fighting for her. She didn't have connections. She didn't have people who had given money. And I think she's one of many people who just never made it to the top of the pile and never got the review she should have gotten.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: The story of Chrissy Taylor, who's been in prison now how long? How many years?
TAYLOR: Eleven years.
KING: OK, you were how old at this time?
TAYLOR: I was 19.
KING: Nineteen, all right. Now, you're arrested. What happens then? you're put in an Alabama...
TAYLOR: I was put in Alabama city jail, actually, and I was arrested on July 28, 1990. I was tried September, and I was found guilty by a jury trial, and I was sentenced in December and I was in federal prison with almost 20 years in January.
KING: Who represented you?
TAYLOR: A court-appointed attorney, Jim Ziegler (ph).
KING: When was Alan tried?
TAYLOR: Alan was tried with me.
KING: It was a co-trial.
TAYLOR: We tried to get it to sever, but they would not sever...
KING: Not sever. Did they offer you -- is it true they offered you a deal, testify against him and we'll give you like a 10-year sentence?
TAYLOR: Well, what happened was when I was in jail, my attorney, he said that the federal prosecutor wanted to do an off-the-record, proffer or discussion. In the proffer discussion papers they sent me, it said that I would have to wear wire taps or I would have to do anything that they said, basically, and I was very scared because I was very, and I didn't really know -- it was just way over my head...
KING: But if they already the case against him, why did they need you...
TAYLOR: I think they wanted more people.
KING: Oh, other than him. So, he wasn't in this alone.
TAYLOR: Right, that was their understanding.
KING: Were you still in love with him at this point?
TAYLOR: Oh, no.
KING: Were you at that point?
TAYLOR: At that point, I was just -- it was like -- I was still listening to what he was saying to me. He was saying, Chrissy, you're not going to get convicted, what you did was not illegal. It was legal, and please just don't say anything. And...
KING: Well, when you made your case to the court, hey, all I did was help a boyfriend what I bought was legal, what was the argument against you? Did they say you had to know what was going on?
TAYLOR: They said that I helped him, I aided him.
KING: Your defense was unknowingly aided him, right?
TAYLOR: And they said that I took steps because I went to that chemical store, so that is how is how I got convicted.
KING: And your argument was, you went innocently thinking -- what did you think he was buying the chemicals for?
TAYLOR: Well, I knew at that point, it was for drugs. But I really did not associate myself with manufacturing, or with trafficking anything. I basically did it for a favor as favor to him.
KING: So you didn't take the proffered deal they offered you?
TAYLOR: No, my attorney actually believed in that I was going to win my trial as well. He said, you know, that the chemicals were legal, and he suggested that I go to trial. And that is what I did.
KING: You were no bail, then, you were held?
TAYLOR: Without bail because I was a flight risk, absolutely. I had no money, I had no assets, I had nothing, I was a teenager, and I was a flight risk, and...
KING: How about your uncle? Did anyone come to say they'd watch you?
TAYLOR: Well, they would not even negotiate a bond, a bail, they won't -- it was non-negotiable. They said, no way.
KING: OK, Alan, the same way?
KING: He was kept in prison.
KING: He's found guilty and you are found guilty.
KING: What was it like when the jury come back.
TAYLOR: I felt like that -- you know, it was like a bad dream. I felt like that my life passed before my eyes. It was -- I couldn't breathe, it was terrible, I was devastated.
KING: Who was William Boman?
TAYLOR: My Uncle Buddy.
KING: He is the uncle.
KING: And he's always helped you, right?
TAYLOR: He has been there very supportive to this day.
KING: To this day. He got you into school, he tried to do the best for you.
TAYLOR: He did.
KING: Was he at the trial?
TAYLOR: Yes, he did come to the trial. Yes, he did. Him and a cousin -- my cousin, his daughter, and my mother.
KING: All right, so the jury walks in, guilty, you can't believe it.
TAYLOR: I actually was like -- I didn't believe that this could be true, I just didn't believe that they could give me almost 20 years in prison.
KING: Was that sentence given immediately? The judge said 20 years. TAYLOR: He said 235 months, and, 235 months I was trying to figure out how much time was that? You know, and I was just -- I was just -- blown back.
KING: No parole, right?
TAYLOR: No parole.
KING: This is the mandatory federal sentence. The judge had no -- he couldn't do anything else.
TAYLOR: He sentenced me to the lowest end of the guidelines, they conceptually converted the chemicals that were purchased and to how much hypothetical metha amphetamine could be manufactured.
KING: You have learned a lot about this.
TAYLOR: Yes, I have.
KING: What sentence did Alan get?
TAYLOR: He got 360 months, which is 30 years.
KING: He is serving that time now.
TAYLOR: He's FCI, El Reno, Oklahoma.
KING: Do you ever hear from him?
KING: We'll be right back with more on this special edition of LARRY KING LIVE, don't go away.
KING: We're back on LARRY KING LIVE, with Chrissy Taylor in federal detention here in Fort Worth, Texas. As we said, the subject of a front page story in "The Wall Street Journal" questioning why she was not commuted.
All right, so you go to -- you are shocked -- now you go into prison.
KING: What's that like?
TAYLOR: Oh, what was it like? It was horrifying.
KING: Where was the first prison?
TAYLOR: Lexington -- F.C.I.. Lexington, Kentucky.
KING: Big drug addiction place, right?
TAYLOR: It was huge. It was a huge institution.
KING: For drugs...
TAYLOR: Back in the day way -- you know, like in the 30s or -- it used to be like a huge drug rehab or...
KING: A big "hospital" used to be term -- going to Lexington.
TAYLOR: Yes, and it was, it was -- had like, all this razor wire and it had these columns with -- it just looked like a haunted house or something, it was just so big scary, and I go in this institution...
KING: Were you were appealing the verdict at all?
TAYLOR: Yes, appealed right away. And, I was the youngest. I was always the baby. You know, I was so young. Everyone was like 35, 42, 55, and I was, by this time I had just barely turned 20. And, you know, it was very intimidating. I didn't want to say wrong thing, I didn't want to do the wrong thing, so I basically just stayed to myself.
KING: Were you physically harmed?
KING: A girl as pretty as you are? No one...
TAYLOR: I stayed to myself. I stayed clear of pretty much everybody.
KING: No problem with guards or inmates?
KING: You were a loner?
TAYLOR: Pretty much well, pretty much well. And you know, I just -- I was very confident that I was going to you know, win my appeal. I knew that something was going to happen that what I did was -- it was a stupid mistake and it was bad judgment, but I just really didn't think that I could do 20 years for what I did.
KING: There's an organization fighting this mandate idea -- are you in touch with them too?
TAYLOR: Yes, I heard about...
KING: You're opposed to mandated sentencing?
TAYLOR: I was -- I heard about families against mandatory minimums, and I heard they were an organization that fought for the rights of, you know, prisoners in these unjust you know, drug sentencing laws and right away I contacted them and I told my uncle about them, because he was just -- he was just so hurt and so upset that what happened to me happened to me and he was like, you know, this is our country, this my country.
He'd served for this country and he just really didn't believe that they could lock me up for this long.
KING: Has that organization stood up for you all the way?
TAYLOR: Yes. They've been there for me. He actually started a Houston based branch of the organization.
KING: You lost your appeals?
TAYLOR: I lost -- when I lost my appeals I thought I wanted to die. I could not fathom the thought of being in prison for 20 years. And, my computation sheet you know, is was just year after year from -- in the year 1990 and 1991 I couldn't even think about the year 2000 and something. Especially, you know, I was a teenager. I was young...
KING: You weren't crossing days off calendar?
TAYLOR: I couldn't. I was just -- I almost -- I really thought about killing myself because I couldn't -- I couldn't think about doing all this time in prison.
KING: All right, what -- how did you do it?
TAYLOR: God. God. Actually. You know mean, I just, I've really basically turned my life over to God. I was like, you know, God, I can't do it. You know, you've got help me out.
KING: Would someone come to prison? A priest, a minister, someone come to talk to you?
TAYLOR: I got close to the, actually I got close to the priest there in the institution.
KING: Catholic priest.
TAYLOR: Yes, and I signed up for drug treatment as well, and I was in an intensive treatment program in prison, and I dealt with a lot of issues that I had there. They really helped me so much.
KING: Are you a Catholic now?
TAYLOR: Actually no. I'm not. I'm Protestant.
KING: But a born again -- do you consider yourself born-again?
TAYLOR: We'll be right with Chrissy Taylor. More to go. We'll find out what's happened with all the commutations. How she felt when all the Clinton pardons and commutations came through and she wasn't on the list. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOMAN: Her manner part in this conspiracy -- I would have thought two years would have been a tremendous long sentence. I think she should have been given some sort of probation or something and been required to take some drug programs or something, but the prison just doesn't have any.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Couple of notes before we continue with Chrissy Taylor. Laura Bush will be with us tomorrow night from the White House. Thursday night Barbara Walters, and Friday night, exclusive with Jim and Sarah Brady.
We're at the Federal Medical Center, Carswell, Fort Worth, Texas, the home of 1,335 female inmates. One of them is our guest, Chrissy Taylor. So you find God, that helps you. You pray. You start to use that. Do you start to take any education?
TAYLOR: Yes, I did. I came to prison basically uneducated, drug-addicted, lost, confused -- and when I came to prison, I just -- I started -- I took my GED. I started going to drug treatment. I started furthering my education. I signed up for college classes, and you know, I really started being busy. I made my time go by.
KING: When did you start to ask for commutation?
TAYLOR: Well, right after I lost my appeal I had heard about you could file to the president. And I was -- I was maybe about 21. And, so I said, "Well, how do you do that?"
They said, "Well, it's called a clemency."
And I said, "Well, how does that work?"
And they said, "Well, you go to the law library and get the forms." So this, inmates were telling me. You know, some older inmates that had been in the system for a while. So I went to the law library and I got the forms, and, you know, basically, I filled them out myself, you know.
KING: No lawyer?
TAYLOR: No lawyer. I didn't even know that you could get a lawyer for this. And, you know, I basically just poured out my heart. "Mr. President, I made a mistake, and I'm asking you...
KING: This was what year?
TAYLOR: This was in 1991. I was 21.
KING: So Bush was president.
TAYLOR: Bush was president. And, you know, basically explained to him that I was just a teenager, and that I've grown up, and that I've gotten my education, and I was studying, and doing the good -- the right thing. And, so then I turned in the petition. And it was -- right away, it was denied. It was summarily denied. KING: They send it back to you, tell you it's denied.
KING: All right. So do you keep applying year? What is it, once a year you apply?
TAYLOR: Well, you can apply...
KING: Any time, right?
TAYLOR: Yeah, once a year. You have to wait one year from the denial to the next one. But what I did next was I hired -- my uncle hired an attorney for me to file for my 2255 which is Habeas Corpus. And we -- we filed a 2255, and so, you know, I had something going in the courts at that point, so...
KING: Meaning you should be let out because...
TAYLOR: Well, they brought up a lot of issues on the case regarding the drug quantities, and how could they hypothetically convert these chemicals...
KING: And how would they know how much...
TAYLOR: Yeah, and all that. So that's, basically, it was all legalities.
KING: All that failed?
TAYLOR: All that failed. Everything failed.
KING: Then you go back to asking for commutation again and Clinton's president.
TAYLOR: Clinton's president, 1996. No, it was 1997 I filed for clemency again on my own. And, I mean, I did a little bit better. I did a little more thorough job than I did the first time. I enclosed some certificates that I had achieved in the BOP.
KING: But no clout. Nobody helping you.
TAYLOR: No, no clout.
KING: Just mailed it in.
TAYLOR: Just mailed it in.
KING: And again in 98?
TAYLOR: Actually, I didn't file it again until -- I was denied from the '97 clemency in 99. And, then I hired -- I had to wait one year, so, then I hired an attorney to look into some things in my case. And I had -- I was hopeful, and I was like, "Let's look into my case. There's got to be something. There's got to be something."
And, then, all of a sudden, in July of 2000, I heard that Amy Pofahl and Serena Nunn had been granted clemency.
KING: They were in this prison?
TAYLOR: No, actually, they were in -- Serena Nunn was in Phoenix Camp at that point, and Amy Pofahl was in Dublin, California.
KING: Did you know them?
TAYLOR: Yes, I did.
KING: And they were convicted of what?
TAYLOR: They were convicted -- Amy was a minor participant in her boyfriend's drug activities, a conspiracy charge, and Amy Pofahl was a minor participant in her husband's drug conspiracy. And their cases were very similar to mine.
KING: And the Clinton administration commuted them.
TAYLOR: Yes, he did, and I was very excited when that happened. And I was like, you know, this is it.
KING: Did you talk to them at all? Did they do contact you, or you them?
TAYLOR: Well, actually I have had some contact -- well, my family has had -- my uncle has had contact with Amy.
KING: Since they are out?
TAYLOR: Yes, since she got out, and she was being very helpful, and she had -- she knew me, so she really was very helpful in trying to gain clemency for me as well.
KING: Have you seen any prisoners here or other federal prisoners walk?
TAYLOR: Yes, I did.
TAYLOR: Well, prior to Amy and Serena, nobody. Nobody. I had never seen -- I mean that had never happened.
KING: But with those certainly figured now, I have got a heck of a shot here, a similar case, et cetera?
KING: President let them go.
KING: So you filed again, right?
TAYLOR: I filed again.
KING: And you fully expect...
KING: What do you expect?
TAYLOR: Well, when I filed again, I was...
KING: Your lawyer did it.
TAYLOR: Yeah, a lawyer did it. She did a wonderful job. She filed a -- basically, a whole packet, and it was like a brief. And it was just wonderful. And at this point, you know, my uncle started contacting the pardon attorney's office, the Department of Justice, he started, you know, basically, campaigning for me, trying to gain political support.
KING: He talked to congressmen?
TAYLOR: Talked to congressmen. I had done some publicity in '96, '97, with the Maury Povich show, and so I had, you know, a little bit of publicity. I had done a newspaper article with Dorothy Gaines, which was a later clemency recipient, and -- I mean, so I was being active on my case...
KING: So, you were encouraged?
TAYLOR: I was very encouraged.
KING: We'll be right back with what happened on the day of all those announcements, and how it rocked Chrissy Taylor. This is LARRY KING LIVE, don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SERENA NUNN, MET TAYLOR IN PRISON: There are many women that are in there right now suffering because of the mandatory minimum, and I believe that they feel the same way that I did, that they just want to be given another chance to either to go home and be mother or to become a successful businessperson, or to just simply live their lives again. And I just think that everyone deserves another chance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Wednesday night on LARRY KING LIVE, first lady Laura Bush. Her husband is nearing the end of his first 100 days in the Oval Office. She's going to join us for a very special interview at the White House. Wednesday night, 9:00 Eastern on CNN.
One other thing I wanted to check with you. Didn't Kimberly Johnson get out of prison?
TAYLOR: Yes, she did.
KING: Out of this prison?
TAYLOR: Yes, she did.
TAYLOR: Yes. On January 19th, I was, like, you know, it can't be over, you know. The clemencies can't be over. President Clinton said that he was -- many low-level drug offenders, he was going to grant clemencies to. So on the 20th, you know, I was like, it's not over, it can't be over.
KING: When did Kimberly got commuted?
TAYLOR: She got commuted on the 20th. It was actually -- it was a Saturday afternoon, and...
KING: Do you know her?
TAYLOR: Yes, I do. She lived in same unit as I did.
KING: What was she guilty of?
TAYLOR: She was, again, a minor participant in a drug conspiracy.
KING: So you had to be shocked that you weren't on the list?
TAYLOR: Well, it swept through the prison that someone had got clemency here, immediate release, and I didn't know who. And I was like, who is it? Who is it? And then, all of a sudden, the staff announced to Kimberly that she had -- she was immediately released.
KING: Did you get a rejection notice?
TAYLOR: No, I have not.
KING: All right. This seems obvious, but how did you feel?
TAYLOR: Well, I mean it was...
TAYLOR: No. Actually, I wasn't angry. I was devastated. I cried.
KING: You could see Marc Rich, a wanted fugitive, also you see Carlos Vignali, a convicted drug trafficker, gets commuted. He is in prison.
He is a trafficker, major trafficker. He is commuted. You are not.
TAYLOR: I just didn't understand it, but -- one of the things I kept asking is, just make this make sense. Make this make sense. How is this fair? You know, explain to me...
KING: What did your lawyer say?
TAYLOR: My lawyer was -- she -- she was -- she was very upset. But she really couldn't give me any clear answers because, you know, basically, it was just it was dirty. It was unfair. It was cruel.
KING: All right, why do you think you didn't get it?
TAYLOR: Actually, at this point...
KING: Did Kimberly have clout?
TAYLOR: I didn't know that Kimberly had any clout.
KING: Did she? Have you since learned? Did she have a famous lawyer or someone she knew inside justice or...
KING: So, why didn't you get it?
TAYLOR: My opinion now is that there was a list that was given to the president from members of FAMM and there were certain nonviolent drug cases that were given to the president.
TAYLOR: And basically, 21 low level drug offenders were on this list; 17 of those drug offenders were granted clemency. And Kimberly was not; I was not on that list.
KING: Why not?
TAYLOR: Actually, the reason why Julie Stewart chose not to put me on the list is because, she said that I had a prior drug conviction. I had a five-year probation, and she was trying to follow their guidelines, with first-time offenders.
KING: Is that the reason that prior conviction, Kimberly did not have one of those, and the other two did not have one of those. Is that why you are here?
TAYLOR: You know, I really think that actually there was someone on that list that had a prior, and -- for marijuana, and, they had been to prison before, so there were some people that had priors. And -- I just -- it didn't make sense.
KING: Did you contact the "Wall Street Journal?" Or your lawyer? What prompted them to...
TAYLOR: After, the -- the big day, January 20th, everyone was so devastated that had been pushing for me, and, Julie Stewart, you know, she was really, you know, upset, you know, that I didn't.
KING: To say the least.
TAYLOR: To say the least, that I didn't get clemency, and "The Wall Street Journal" contacted Julie Stuart at FAMM.
KING: They knew about it? They heard about it? They came out and talked to you?
TAYLOR: They came out and talked to me.
KING: Were you impressed with that story?
TAYLOR: Yes, I was. Gary Fields did an excellent job.
KING: Have you heard anything since?
TAYLOR: Actually, no. I haven't been in contact with Gary.
KING: You can apply for commutation? You haven't been rejected.
TAYLOR: No, I haven't been rejected.
KING: Are you in the Justice Department's...
TAYLOR: Yes, I am. My clemency was never even seen by the president from what I can understand.
KING: Does Attorney General Ashcroft?
KING: I bet he reads "The Wall Street Journal".
KING: You would think someone up there must know, don't you?
TAYLOR: Yeah. I think, at this point, they might have heard about me.
KING: I'm going to ask Chrissy in a moment how she feels about the judiciary and the legal system and President Clinton. Don't go away.
KING: We are back with Chrissy Taylor at Federal Medical Center Carswell, Fort Worth, Texas. How do you feel about Bill Clinton? TAYLOR: Well, just disappointed. Very disappointed. I think that how he came to commute the people that he commuted, pardon the people that he pardoned, I think that basically that it was -- it was cruel. Because there were so many people that deserved to get commuted, that did not get commuted, and the people that did get commuted didn't deserve it.
So, you know, I think that actually that, you know, I'm glad that he did let some women go, that really deserved it, but I think that it was cruel. It was not the right message to send out.
KING: Do you think he ever heard about you?
TAYLOR: You know, I don't think he did. I think that I know the Department of Justice felt sympathetic to my case.
KING: You know that?
TAYLOR: Um-hmm. I know that they sent my case to the White House for approval.
KING: How do you know he didn't see it?
TAYLOR: I'm absolutely not sure.
KING: You are guessing he didn't.
TAYLOR: I'm guessing -- I'm guessing that he didn't see it. I'm...
KING: So you're thinking, if he's watching this now, he is -- ashamed? Shocked? Sad?
TAYLOR: I think that President Clinton had so much to worry about himself, the night before he left office, that he really didn't have time to do his job.
KING: So you are a little bitter?
TAYLOR: Yes. I'm a little upset with him. I expected more from him.
KING: How about the whole justice system? How about mandatory sentencing?
TAYLOR: Terrible, cruel, heartless, inhumane.
KING: A lot of judges feel that way. A lot of people feel that way. Do you think they'll change it?
TAYLOR: I pray that Bush does something about it. Because it is horrifying. To see all these women in here, they made wrong choices, doing 20, 30 and life sentences. They are not the big-time kingpins. They were very low level drug offenders, like myself. And it is just cruel to see them in here.
KING: What are feel feelings now about Alan Roark?
TAYLOR: Alan Roark is -- he was a mistake. It was a childhood romance, that went real sour. I have no contact with him, have no desire to be in contact with him.
KING: Do you miss romance? Haven't had any, have you?
TAYLOR: Actually I have just been getting in touch with being who I am. A woman, standing on my own two feet.
KING: So you don't miss -- contact?
TAYLOR: Well, sure, sure I do. I have never had -- I have never had a healthy you know, relationship.
KING: Did you have one before Alan?
KING: Never did.
TAYLOR: Um-um. I've never had children, I have never had my own apartment. I have never had -- I have never paid bills, I have never had my own credit cards. I've never had my own checkbook.
KING: Who visits you?
TAYLOR: My family, my uncle, my aunt.
TAYLOR: My mother comes to see me.
KING: Are you back close again?
TAYLOR: Well, we are working on that.
KING: But brothers, sisters? None?
TAYLOR: No. Only child.
KING: How did you lick drug addiction?
TAYLOR: Well, I decided that you know what, drugs are for losers and fools, and...
KING: But it's still an addiction though.
TAYLOR: It is very much so an addiction, and...
KING: Cigarette smokers know that tobacco kills you but they still smoke.
TAYLOR: And they still smoke. Yeah, I -- I basically, I feel like that when I realized why I was doing drugs, I realized that, you know, I had issues that I had to work on within myself, and I worked on those -- diligently worked on those issues, and with time and with effort, you know, and with a relationship with God, I have overcome it.
KING: Ever had a desire to -- go back? No.
KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments with Chrissy Taylor, in Fort Worth, Texas. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARGARET LOVE, FORMER U.S. PARDON ATTORNEY: I would look toward the establishment or some sort of administrative process whereby people can get their cases reviewed fairly, and expeditiously, but I don't know whether that is going to happen soon. So I would just tell her to keep her faith and courage up, and continue to do well in prison. It is the best -- it's really the only thing that she can do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We are back. We are told you have a Web site.
TAYLOR: Yes, I do.
KING: How does that work?
TAYLOR: I had a friend, and he is just -- he is a computer buff, and I asked him, I said, Tracy -- you know, I had heard that Amy Pofahl had a Web site, and she was, like, you know -- it would be a good idea for me to get a Web site. So I called him and I asked him, I said: "Tracy, you think you could create a Web site for me?" And he was like, "Sure," you know.
KING: So people send you messages -- e-mail and stuff?
TAYLOR: Yes, they e-mail me.
KING: And do you send out messages?
TAYLOR: No, I mean...
KING: You are not allowed?
TAYLOR: No. We have no access...
KING: So, all you can do is receive?
TAYLOR: All I can do is receive.
KING: If somebody watching wanted to Web you, how do they do that?
TAYLOR: They could send to it www.freechrissy.org. KING: Www.freechrissy.org, that's C-H-R-I-S-S-Y, dot-org, and they can contact you?
TAYLOR: Yes, they can.
KING: You could also write to this prison, right?
TAYLOR: Yes, they can, and they can...
KING: In Carswell, Texas.
TAYLOR: Yes, they can write me here, too. They can also contact, through my Web site, the president, or their local Congress members or senators, supporting my release.
KING: You have every right to do that. What do you think is going to happen? You can't be paroled. So, with the time off, if you -- you would be out of here August 18, 2006.
TAYLOR: I will be almost...
KING: A little over five years. You will be how old?
TAYLOR: I'll be almost 36 years old. And I mean, after the devastation that I felt when I didn't get granted clemency on January 20th -- I mean, I know that my survival depends on me being able to do the time. And it has been very hard for me to accept that I might have to do this 20 years.
KING: Your belief factor should help.
TAYLOR: I -- well, what happens is this that I don't think that God actually gets involved with the decisions of the president when...
KING: No, but your belief should help you if you have to do it.
KING: Do it.
TAYLOR: Oh yes, God gives me the strength to endure. Yes.
KING: What -- other than people writing the president, President Bush now, or contacting Web sites and -- what other things can you do legally?
KING: Well, you know, you are still in the Justice Department's thrall. You haven't been rejected.
TAYLOR: I haven't been rejected, so there still...
KING: Your application is there right now.
TAYLOR: It's still there, it's still there right now. In fact, it is still pending. It is pending -- President Bush could grant it.
KING: Grant it tomorrow.
TAYLOR: Yes, he could.
KING: Do you know anyone who knows him?
TAYLOR: No, I don't.
KING: You don't have anything to do with his clout, apparently -- certainly, clout the -- clout in the Clinton administration.
TAYLOR: Well, I'm thinking and I'm hoping that with Bush, he will go with what's fair, and he will look at the case in and of itself, without necessarily needing clout.
You know, I do have one person, Patsy Mink, she is a member of Congress, she is from Hawaii, and she supports me strongly, 100 percent. And she wrote a letter to President Clinton supporting my clemency, and she still supports me to this day.
KING: Do you think, therefore, if President Bush and Ashcroft and whoever handles this in Justice, read this thing fairly through, watched this tape, read "The Wall Street Journal," you should be commuted?
KING: What would you do if you were commuted?
TAYLOR: I would go home to my...
KING: Home to?
TAYLOR: To my uncle in Houston. He has offered me to take over his business and he wants to...
KING: Do you know how to run a business?
TAYLOR: He wants to train me to run his business, and I think that who I am today, that I could do it.
KING: Do you want to marry someday? You want to have kids?
TAYLOR: Sure do. I do. I want to have children. I want to get married. You know, basically, I just want to live. You know, I just want to have a life.
KING: Are you in good health?
KING: What keeps you going here every day? This not -- I mean, this is nice price as prisons go, but it is not, you know.
TAYLOR: It is really not, it is really not, especially... KING: You are on an Air Force base here, right?
TAYLOR: After all the years that I have done, I'm just -- I'm just -- I have lost a lot of my tolerance, and it is like -- you know, just sheer force of will keeps me going.
KING: Do you hear from a lot of people?
TAYLOR: I have various people that...
KING: I mean, like the Web site. Do you get people...
TAYLOR: Yes, yes. The Web site -- they write beautiful, you know, messages for me. There is a message page, and they just -- they write, you know, "keep the strength," "keep the faith," you know, "we are for you," "we are behind you" -- and, so, yes, I do. I get a lot of encouragement.
KING: I wish you the best, Chrissy.
TAYLOR: Thank you.
KING: I hope next time we have you on, you are out.
TAYLOR: Yes, me too.
KING: Christine "Chrissy" Taylor -- Terri Christine "Chrissy" Taylor, and who have been in federal prisons a long time. Denied commutation -- well, that is still pending in the Justice Department. Her Web site is www.freechrissy.org. We did invite the prosecutor, she declined.
Tomorrow night, Laura Bush from the White House. Thank you for joining us on LARRY KING. For our whole crew here on site in Fort Worth, good night.
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