Clifford’s story is from Stories of ACLU Clients Swept Up in the Hearne Drug Bust of November 2000
In March 2001, Clifford Runoalds, 33 years old and the father of seven, returned home to Bryan, Texas to attend the funeral of his 18-month old daughter. Before the service began, local police summoned him from the church and handcuffed him. He pleaded with authorities to let him see his daughter’s body one last time before she was buried, but he was denied.
While in police custody, Clifford was told he was needed to testify in the trial of Corvian Workman, a Hearne resident who was arrested during the November 2000 drug taskforce sweeps. The District Attorney wanted Clifford to admit that he had witnessed Corvian selling drugs to an informant. Clifford was told that the transaction, and his participation, had been recorded on audiotape.
Knowing he was innocent, Clifford asked to hear the tape, but the DA refused. Instead, the DA offered to help Clifford with his parole if he testified that he had witnessed the drug deal. But, if he refused to say what the DA wanted, he would be prosecuted for being part of the drug deal. The day after Clifford refused to testify as requested, he was indicted on felony drug charges and held in jail for one month until the District Attorney dropped the charges.
At the time of his arrest, Clifford was building a new life for himself. As a young man, he had served time in prison and did many years of probation. But in his new home in Silver Springs, he had secured a permanent job and an apartment. He even had plans to have his five-year-old son come live with him. Clifford felt that he was finally getting past the problems of his youth and starting to live on his own. However, that all changed on the day of his daughter’s funeral.
As a result of his arrest, Clifford lost his job, apartment, furniture and car. Clifford currently lives in Bryan and works nights with the Labor Ready program.
“We are told by drug warriors that the enemy in this war is a thing — drugs — not a group of people, but the facts [and stories] prove otherwise… Although the majority of illegal drug users and dealers nationwide are white, three-fourths of all people imprisoned for drug offenses have been black or Latino.” Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow, p. 98
“There was once a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. On the way he was attacked by robbers. They took his clothes, beat him up, and went off leaving him half-dead. Luckily, a priest was on his way down the same road, but when he saw him he angled across to the other side. Then a Levite religious man showed up; he also avoided the injured man…” Luke 10: 30-32