In 2004, Off Center Media made a clemency video about Darryl Best for the William Moses Kunstler Fund for Racial Justice.
Nearly a third of the New York State prison population — roughly 19,000 inmates — are serving time for drug crimes. Many are incarcerated under the Rockefeller Drug Laws, which mandate minimum sentences regardless of extenuating circumstances. Darryl Best, 45, is one of these inmates
On November 3, 2000, Darryl Best, a former Bronx cop and father of six, signed for a Fed Ex package that came to his uncle’s Bronx apartment building. The package contained just over 16 ounces of cocaine, and the deliveryman was an undercover cop.
The package came from Waco, Texas and it was addressed to “Linda Williams”; Best’s uncle had a neighbor named Doreen Williams. Though accounts differ, it is agreed that Best signed for the package, estimated to be worth $14,000 on the street.
Under the Rockefeller Laws, anyone convicted of possessing over four ounces or selling over two ounces of a controlled substance (an A-1 felony) must serve a minimum sentence of 15 years to life.
The Bronx County prosecutor’s office offered Best a sentence of 18 months to 4-1/2 years if he pleaded guilty. Best, maintaining his innocence, refused to accept the plea bargain and went to trial. Despite the muddled circumstances and Best’s clean record, the jury found him guilty, and on October 23, 2001, he was sentenced to 15 years to life.
In 2005, Best was pardoned by Governor Pataki.