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Against Life Without Parole by Restoring Citizenship

This petition had 389 supporters

Dear Senator Warren and Senator Markey,

Families of prisoners, students, and local community members are unsatisfied with the current practices of our Massachusetts criminal justice system. Our discontent ranges from issues concerning prison conditions, mandatory LWOP sentencing statues, and lastly, prisoner suffrage. As a result of our collective grievances, we are unifying around an Emancipation Initiative and reaching out to our state representatives in hopes of setting goals, exploring alternatives, and collectively developing plans to infuse a sense of humanity to incarcerated persons throughout the state.

Persons serving LWOP are permanently reduced to the status of chattel property of the state and are forever excluded from the political process despite selected cases where a prisoner has shown remarkable signs of individual growth and rehabilitation. We suggest that persons serving LWOP be entitled to review and become parole eligible after a set amount of time. Parole eligibility will provide incentive for convicted lifers to engage in rehabilitative practices which would in turn foster better prison conditions, encourage self-development, and promote a reintegrationist environment throughout Massachusetts Department of Correction prison facilitates. Persons who are serving mandatory LWOP sentences, who would become parole eligible, will not later create a public safety issue upon release because prisoners would be required to meet a number of qualifications through the transitional process prior to receiving a positive parole decision. Finally, providing Massachusetts’ prisoners serving LWOP an opportunity for parole eligibility and review is in accordance with evolving standards, which mark progress of human decency and the maturing disposition of our society (8th Amendment). Human beings are not incorrigible and in tandem with nations abroad who’ve abolished LWOP prison sentences (i.e. Belgium, Austria, Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Norway, etc.), Massachusetts does value its own citizens and must end this egregious practice of perpetual retribution, exclusion, and de facto slavery (13th Amendment).

In order to facilitate a transitional reintegrationist criminal justice system, reinstituting universal prisoner suffrage will serve to educate the 89% of Massachusetts inmates, who will at some point return to society and will be more prone to value their natural environment as a result of their admission into the political process. Voting is an inclusive process, which restores a sense of wholeness to the individual who has been excluded from the process. Restoring prisoner suffrage will work to renew the human dignity of many persons who are without representation while simultaneously working to topple the barriers in place that serve to foreclose the gates of democracy for a select demographic who were born citizens but are no longer treated as such as a result of a single deviant act. Human beings are fallible, but are still entitled to a republican form of government enumerated in Article IV Section 4 of our Constitution as both Vermont and Maine have recognized.

This letter is drafted on behalf of the Emancipation Initiative and is representative of family members, local residents, students, and MA DOC prison population, and their disposition concerning LWOP prison sentences and universal prisoner suffrage for the entire Massachusetts Department of Corrections. The Emancipation Initiative sincerely appreciates your time and attention to the matters of discussion and encourages your participation in mutually setting goals, exploring alternatives, and developing strategic plans that will address the said legislative planning issues as a community and ultimately as a state. Thank you.


Emancipation Initiative

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