Greetings and Blessings, in the name of the Most High, Jah Ratafari,

My name is Jawara McIntosh (Tosh 1) and I am writing this letter to garner support for my current case in New Jersey where I will soon stand trial for possession of marijuana with intent to distribute over 25 pounds. If convicted according to standard sentencing procedures I could be sentenced to 10­20 years in prison.

Now let me just give you a brief history on myself. I was born in Kingston, Jamaica son of the late great Winston Hubert McIntosh to the world known as Peter Tosh, and Melody Cunningham, a legendary mother in her own right. I moved to Boston in 1985 when I was 5 and have lived here ever since. At the age of 7 on the auspicious date of September 11th my father was murdered in his own home in Jamaica. An event that still affects me to this day and will for the rest of my life. I received a formal education in the states and graduated from City on A Hill, one of the first charter schools in Massachusetts, top of my class. In fact I was the “only graduate” in my class as many students left or failed to meet the rigorous requirements that Boston Public Schools had ill prepared them for. I then went on to study at Northeastern University majoring in Economics. In 2002 I left school in order to pursue music and follow my passion. I have toured the world representing my father’s legacy and am now seeking to show the world my contribution to the world of hip­hop and reggae.

I am currently working on my debut album, a project many years in the making. My father was a singer, songwriter, and musician who was ambassador for equal rights and justice for all oppressed all across the world. He used his music as a weapon to fight against the forces for inequality and oppression. He was also an herbalist in the truest sense of the word, and spent much of his time researching the healing potential of not only Cannabis but many other natural earth grown herbs. His hit song, Legalize IT, was the first to publically call for the legalization of cannabis and was critically acclaimed worldwide. I myself am an artist and I am cut from the same cloth as my father as I seek to uplift and educate all peoples regardless of race, color, or creed. I look at the world today and empathize with those who suffer without a voice to represent them.

I was raised in the tradition of Rastafari, which is not simply a religion but a way of life. And in the Rastafarian tradition herb, also known as cannabis, is a sacrament we use freely for conscious purposes. Besides the fact that the use of this sacred plant should be protected by the constitution, it is utterly ridiculous that a plant could ever be classified as a drug. Cannabis has spiritual and medicinal qualities that can greatly benefit mankind if researched and explored for its positive attributes. For this very reason I believe the mass persecution of this plant needs to come to a swift end. My life and the billions of people around the world who could benefit from it, depend on it. No one in the history of the world has ever died or been injured from the use of marijuana. In fact millions of lives have been saved not only from its medicinal application but even casual use prevents the onset of many diseases. So the crime is not the possession, the use, or even the distribution of this sacred herb, but the crime is the persecution and prosecution of those who hold it in high esteem. It’s one thing to have a negative opinion about this plant for whatever reason you see fit, but to criminalize individuals for its use is absolutely asinine and insanely hypocritical, when cigarettes and alcohol, which together cause hundreds of thousands of deaths a year, is totally legal. Now I know that there are nefarious elements motivated by greed for power and profit, that would not like to see the liberation of this sacred herb, but we must do what we can as sensible, reasonable, decent human beings to see that this persecution is eliminated from our existence here on planet earth.

Now for a brief summary of my experience with the Justice system as it exists in the state of New Jersey. On June 14 2013, my life and the life of my friend Carlotta Leslie would be changed forever. It was a sunny day at approximately 3:00 pm, while traveling on route 17 in Mahwah New Jersey, I was pulled over by Mahwah police after legally merging into ongoing traffic moving at less than 5 mph. After pulling to the side of the highway the officer pulled up behind us and approached the vehicle. I rolled down the window and he asked where we were headed, and I responded, “Philadelphia, to celebrate Carlotta's birthday”. The officer then asked for my license and my registration, and I notified him that my license may have been recently suspended, to which he replied that a suspended license is only a ticket in New Jersey. I gave Him my license and registration and went back to his vehicle to look up my information. Carlotta and I sat in the vehicle about 10 minutes, and then the officer returned and asked that I exit the vehicle. He then notified me that my license had in fact been suspended and that I needed to sign a document to allow him to search the vehicle, to which I agreed. Another squad car arrived on the scene and the original officer proceeded to search the vehicle from the front to back. The search turned up a six pack of mikes hard lemonade, less than an ounce of herb (cannabis) in the front of the vehicle, and in the trunk, two suitcases with approximately 65.5 lbs herbal sacrament. After this discovery the searching officer drew his gun and Carlotta and I were arrested on the spot and placed in the back of separate police cars. We stayed there on the scene for another 20­30 minutes and were then taken to the station to be formally booked.

We arrived at the Mahwah police station around 5 pm. I was fingerprinted, given a breathalyzer test, which I blew a zero, and a sobriety test. Later a detective attempted to interview me but I refused to be questioned and asked to speak with a lawyer. We would later be charged with possession with the intent to distribute, and I was also charged with driving under the influence, even though I passed the sobriety test. We were held at the station for about 4 hours and then transported together in the back of a single cop car to Bergen County Jail. When we arrived we were both processed placed into Bergen county jumpsuits (orange for myself and green for Carlotta) and then placed into holding cells. I was held there for about two hours then brought to unit South­1 a classification tier. In this tier inmates are classified depending on the severity of the alleged crime committed and other factors such as gang ties.

In each tier there were two levels with about 30 cells per floor, 2 inmates being assigned to each cell. There were 4 showers on each floor in a corner section of the tier. My first bunkie (cell mate) was a guy nick named Juice from Hackensack, NJ. Juice was brought in on terroristic threat charges against a Bergen county police officer. He explained to me that the officer had it out for him for the past few years. I learned very quickly from speaking with Juice as well as other inmates that there was basically a culture of the Police basically hunting the down trodden and dragging them into jail. Everything about Bergen County Jail was to frustrate the inmates. We were served very skimpy trays three times a day, breakfast lunch and dinner. Our last meal was at 6 pm so we were always hungry at night. About 80% of the Correctional Officers in BCJ are straight up malicious minions that have no respect for the inmates who give them none in return.

The rude and belligerent attitude of the CO’s towards the inmates creates a hostile environment in the tier. Inmates do their best to ignore the disrespect of the COs but eventually someone has to respond and that individual is then verbally chastised and even threatened with physical harm. The general attitude held by the COs is that all inmates are guilty until proven innocent and henceforth deserve no respect. COs look at the plight of the inmates as a matter to be laughed at scorned and mocked, and any attempt to defend oneself against such attacks is punishable.
On my third day in the classification unit representatives for the TV show LOCKED UP came and asked me if i would like to be on the show. They explained to me that they knew about my situation, and also that I was the Son of Peter Tosh. They also expressed particular interest in covering the relationship between myself and Carlotta. They thought it would make for good television. Being the outspoken individual that I am I was tempted to get on the show and express my views but I refused and told them they could get an interview for 101 million dollars if they are serious. At that point my whole situation began to seem like one giant set up, like I was a part of some experiment and I was being placed on observation to see how I would react to this life devastating situation.

Most of the inmates were in BCJ on menial charges involving drugs, child support, and probation violation. There was a significant amount of drug users in the tier particularly heroin addicts. Juice gave me a basic run down of BCJ and Prison life in general as he had been in and out of jail for the past 10 years. To my surprise inmates got along fairly well. Fights and petty thefts did occur but it was not the norm and was generally frowned upon. For the most part inmates were just trying to do their time and make the best of a bad situation. Me being a spiritual individual, knew that I would have to draw close to my GOD in order to fully comprehend what was becoming of my life. That same week I received a New Testament Bible that including Psalms and Proverbs from the Old Testament, which being a praying man made me very happy. I made habit of reading scripture several times a day, which brought me much spiritual strength by helping me to understand my situation from a spiritual standpoint.

Also on my third day, to my surprise I received an attorney visit. I assumed it would be some public defender who picked up the case, but instead it was a private attorney from Nebraska named Ralph Smith. We sat down opposite the glass wall that separated inmates and visitors and got acquainted with one another. He told me that he was a good friend of my father and a fan of his work and that was his main reason for being here. He also stated that he believed in the individual's rights to consume Herb and that Herb was the healing of the nation, and that no one should be jailed for its use or distribution. A feeling of relief came over me as I saw that I was not alone and that I would be assisted in this legal battle by someone with experience and a great track record of defending individuals in similar situations. He also made me aware of a media smear campaign that painted myself and Carlotta as being involved in prostitution, which was a complete and total lie. He said he would retain the best lawyers in New Jersey to get on this case. I told him that all was great and that my main concern was Carlotta, and I wanted to make sure that she was liberated from this situation and he agreed that she was first priority. In fact he had already visited Carlotta before he came to see me and said that she was in good spirits.

We talked about the case, my family and how he hasn’t heard much from anyone, and future plans of representing the herb as the healing of the nation and also resurrecting the message of my Father into mainstream consciousness. My father had almost been beaten to death for a spliff (cannabis roll) in Jamaica, and was a staunch advocate for the legalization of the Herb. So we both agreed that this was a perfect opportunity for us to use to highlight the injustice of criminalizing its usage.
Officer Cuppera, who was one of the cooler Cos, took a liking to me. He asked me if I would like to be the houseman, who is in charge of the workers in the tier. I agreed and facilitated with the cleaning duties for that weekend and was transferred to S­4 on my 7th day. I was placed in cell 56, upon entering I noticed 3 bibles on the small table across from the bunk bed. I had always wanted to read the bible from cover to cover, but for some reason or the other I never got around to it. I decided this would be a perfect opportunity to draw nearer to GOD through reading of the scripture and meditation in solitude. For some reason when I began to read the bible I just could not put it down. If I wasn’t eating or sleeping I was reading the bible. I immersed myself in the holy word of God, which became my strength, wisdom, and refuge from the vanity of the world. The more I read the word the deeper the connection I felt with the higher power guiding me throughout the day, and in 7 days I would complete it. After I had finished I made a habit of reading psalms and proverbs and revisiting various books daily. Initially I pretty much stayed to myself and did not interact with others unless they engaged me in conversation but after about month, I realized that the LORD had placed me here not only for me to become more in tune with his word but for me to share the knowledge and read the word with others. I had frustrated the forces of evil all around me when I embarked on the journey to read the bible in its entirety. Even my flesh was against me. I learned to bring my flesh into obedience by practicing complete stillness whilst reading the word aloud and through focused meditation. This daily practice allowed me to observe the forces in the spiritual realm of Good and Evil manifested in the physical, and I saw how GODLESS this place was and that there is no more powerful a weapon than the WORD of GOD. And of this I bare witness.

In my first two weeks after completing the bible, a typical day for me was waking up around 7:00­7:30, read some scripture particularly psalms and proverbs before breakfast. After I would go out to the “yard” get some fresh air, maybe play some basketball. From there go grab a shower and either hang out in the TV room or play cards until lunch time, After lunch maybe get in a workout and at about 2 o’clock every day we locked into our cells until 3:30. After lock in I would pretty much hang out with the other inmates, go back out to the yard, or just chill and politic. For the most part it was all about the passing of time which seemed to fly as long as you found an activity to occupy yourself with. At about 6:00 pm we were served dinner which sucked because by lock in at 9:00 pm you were hungry again, and by 11:00 pm you were starving. By breakfast time the next day you we’re half dead ready to devour anything they placed in front of you. And this was my general routine. But after the second week I found myself getting together with a few other inmates to read and discuss the bible on a daily basis.

One day I was in the middle of a scripture reading with a fellow inmate named Jose just before the 2:00 pm lock in, and just because Jose was seconds late getting to his CELL, the CO on duty who goes by the name of GOMEZ, yells in front of All the Other inmates “What were you doing in there sucking his Dick.” I was angered by the disrespect but at the same time I was encouraged, because I knew through and through that this derogatory outburst was simply a physical manifestation of spiritual wickedness as well as symptom of Gomez’s supreme ignorance. So this just encouraged me to fight harder using the word of GOD as my sword. The harder I fought the more they reacted. And if I wasn’t spiritual, this situation could have easily become physical in the worst way, instigated by an action that was completely uncalled for. I came to realize that JAIL was just simply a place to punish and incarcerate inmates, but was a spiritual battleground for the forces of GOOD and Evil. 90% of the COs did not believe in GOD and expressed a particular disdain for spiritual expression. It was almost as if the lack of Faith in GOD was a prerequisite to being employed in the facility. Apart from the spiritual aspect, the facility was under complete surveillance, with a camera in every nook and cranny of the facility. Besides the safety issues, I believe inmates were being monitored to see how they would interact under these extreme conditions.

For the most part the daily routine was the same and like I said previously most inmates were not looking for more trouble and got along well others. But in order to instigate chaos and fear in all the tiers raids were performed once a week, to make it seem as if there was always a threat of danger present. Fortunately the inmates were too smart for this pathetic tactic and saw right through it. I experienced my first raid in my second week, about a dozen COs barged in the tier with a huge police dog yelling and cursing at the inmates. We were made to get in a single file line and marched into the gym, located on the first floor level of the building, and told to face the wall. While we sat in the gym the COs searched through every cell looking for weapons and drugs. We would return to the tier about an hour after the search was completed only to see the unit in complete disarray. People's personal belongings were many times discarded in an effort to frustrate inmates. The raid was a routine exercise in BCJ, and on several occasions inmates were beaten up and accosted for no reason other than they weren’t moving fast enough for the CO’s. This was probably one of the most frustrating aspects of being incarcerated but there was not much we could do about it.

I remained in S­4 for about 4 months without incident, always kept a smile on my face and this frustrated some of the staff who didn’t like me for whatever reason. One time after I had about a month in, a correctional officer made threatening gestures to me through the glass door, and he had never met me a day in his life or ever exchanged words with. I asked Officer Genard, who was the CO on duty, what was up with him. He simply shook his head and said “I don’t know he must have it out for you”. I responded to him “Why, he doesn’t know me from a hole in the wall” then walked off confused. I had a reputation for having a sharp tongue but never disrespectful, I would only address the hypocrisy of the facility to the best of my ability. For example one time after a raid, whilst walking back to the unit, I asked an officer if he found the rocket launcher underneath my bed, and he gave me a reluctant smile as I kept it moving to the tier. It was bad enough everyone in this facility was locked up without being convicted of a crime, but we also had to suffer unwarranted raids on a regular basis, as if Bergen County Jail was a maximum security penitentiary that was under constant threat from subversive inmates. This was simply not the case generally speaking inmates got along very well given the circumstance, but these raids were performed to intimidate us and remind us where we were as if we could somehow forget.

I could not believe that inmates were spending 6 months to a year or more in facilities like this without being convicted of a crime, and given bails ranging from $50,000 to a million dollars for nonviolent offenses. I decided to put my thoughts on paper drawing from the Constitution and the Universal declaration of human rights which states a man is “innocent until proven guilty”. Where in the present system it seemed to be the exact opposite. To me this justice system was in clear violation of this code. After I completed this document I made copies and handed it out to my fellow inmates who expressed their agreement, and some actually sent copies to family members on the outside. Being incarcerated taught me the importance of knowing your rights, especially in a system that was built to exploit you. It became obvious to me that the system as instituted in Bergen county was simply a business. Inmates were forced to pay exorbitant prices on commissary items that were marked up 500­1000%, and charged ridiculous rates to make phone calls to their loved ones. For me to make a 15 minute phone call to Boston I was charged $16. So to make a bad situation worse, not only were you being kidnapped and held against your will but you were also extorted to add insult to injury. Many inmates could barely afford to make a phone call never mind buy commissary on a weekly basis to supplement the menial servings of food we were given.
Around the end of September I was sent to the hole for “refusing to lock in”, which I did not actually refuse to lock in but was in a friend of  mines cell hanging out after the Lock in time. I would have happily gone to my cell but the CO on duty had other plans. He called the Sergeant and told her that I had refused to lock in and I was then taken off to the hole. In the hole you are kept in your cell for 24 hours and only let out to shower every other day. The next day I was given a hearing, where I explained to them that I had not actually refused to lock in, but was simply found in my friend’s cell after Lock in time. Of course this fell on deaf ears and I was sentenced to 9 days in the hole.

Now I could go on and on as I was incarcerated for six months without being convicted of a crime, but I think you get the gist. I am now out on $70,000 dollars bail and knee deep in lawyer fees now exceeding $100,000. My lawyers have filed several motions on my behalf. One which states that the case should be dismissed on the grounds that I was racially profiled and there was no grounds for the stop. There was dash came footage that would prove this, but the Mah Wah police department say that the footage was destroyed, and the State refuses to pay to have the footage retrieved. There are 15 other motions that have been filed on my behalf which I will not delve into but they do include my religious protection under the constitution as well as the misclassification of Cannabis as schedule 1 controlled dangerous substance. The State of New Jersey made a final plea offer without reviewing my motions, which I refused as it goes against everything I believe in and would be a gross miscarriage of justice. I do not know what you can do to help my situation, but I am reaching out in an effort fight this these charges, for myself, and everyone who finds themselves in a similar situation. Thank you so much for your time and I hope I will be hearing from you very soon.

Best Wishes
Jawara McIntosh