U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders's son was sentenced to the minimum 10 years in prison for his first offense: selling an eighth of an ounce of cocaine to an police informant.
Joycelyn Elders fought back tears as Kevin Elders was led away Monday. His father, Oliver, slammed his hands into a steel door in frustration and repeated, "They never even gave him a shot!"Elders, 28, had claimed entrapment, saying the informant who set up the July 29, 1993, deal had threatened to expose his drug addiction and embarrass his mother at her confirmation hearing.
Circuit Judge John Plegge said the law forced him to impose the minimum 10-year term. Elders could have been sentenced to life for the $275 sale.
Elders wasn't arrested until Dec. 19. The warrant was issued a week after his mother suggested at a Dec. 7 National Press Club luncheon that the government should study legalizing drugs as a means of reducing the crime rate.
Defense attorney Les Hollingsworth said he would appeal.
Elders has acknowledged having a decade-long drug problem, including a three-year cocaine addiction. He said at his trial that his parents were aware of his drug problems, yet never discussed it.
"They really didn't know how bad it really is," he said.
In a recent letter to Plegge, Joycelyn Elders asked for leniency for her son, and said that when he needed her most she was too busy with politics, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported Monday.
Joycelyn Elders was nominated for surgeon general on July 1, 1993, six months after President Clinton first announced his intention to pick her. She won Senate confirmation Sept. 7, 1993.