After 21 years behind bars, Ramona Brant was one of 94 federal inmates granted clemency by President Obama back in December. Last Tuesday, she officially walked out of the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, New York. Met by a group of family and friends, Brant admitted she had a bit of trouble taking it all in.
“It’s surreal. I was wondering if it was real. I was waiting for somebody to say, ‘Come back, where are you going?’ I’m used to being touched and held as I walk through those very doors. So to be able to walk out the gate and be free and not be handcuffed, it’s a great moment,” she told Fusion.
Brant was convicted of conspiracy to sell cocaine in and identified as a part of a Charlotte, North Carolina drug ring operation. She was sentenced to life without parole after attempting to tell authorities that she was acting under the influence of an abusive drug dealer boyfriend. Upon his announcement of his pardons, Obama declared that Brant and the other inmates whose sentences were commuted had “had served their debt to society,” noting that clemency for them was “another step forward in upholding our fundamental ideals of justice and fairness,” according to The New York Times. Asked where she wanted her first stop out of jail to be, Brant wanted a meal with her family.
“I want to go to IHOP. A lot of my nieces and nephews that are here right now, I’ve never held them. So today I will be able to sit down and have a meal with them for the first time in their life and my life of 21 years.”
Brant has been ordered to live in a halfway house in Charlotte for two months, and plans to become an advocate for other imprisoned women once she is back into society.
“There’s so many women, so many women that are locked up inside that I think society is not aware of. They need to be given the attention, given the stage, and let their stories be told,” she said. “Most of us were incarcerated because of a man… I’m not saying that all men are horrible, it’s just a mere fact.”
Grab a tissue and watch Ramona Brant become a free woman in the video below: