Spoon Jackson - A Poet 42 years in Prison is Seeking Redemption
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Seeking Forgiveness - Seeking Redemption
Stanley “Spoon” Jackson was barely out of his teens when in 1977 he took the life of another person.
“I have been incarcerated 42 years for murder with special circumstances. I had just turned 20 when I committed this crime. I take full ownership of and responsibility for my actions, which resulted in the death of a fellow human being.
I offer the information below only as background and not as an excuse, because my actions that day were inexcusable.
Coming from a background of severe childhood abuse and trauma, I was lost with no sense of direction, no sense of responsibility, and no purpose. I was heavily using drugs and alcohol. I wish with all my heart I could have traveled another road instead of the one I did which resulted in such devastation.
At first I thought I had no right being alive after I took a life. Remorse did not even go deep enough. I came to see the only way I can make amends for what I have done is to be of service for others. I must honor the life I took.”
Spoon was sentenced to LWOP (Life Without the Possibility of Parole). He turned his life around in prison through remorse, self-examination, and hard work in numerous rehabilitative programs. He learned to process and express emotions and developed into a mature, empathetic humanitarian with a social conscience. During his four decades inside prison, Spoon has not been involved with gangs, used drugs or alcohol, or been sent to the “hole” for disciplinary infractions.
In 2014, an application for commutation of Spoon’s LWOP sentence was submitted to then-Governor Edmund G. Brown of California. Unfortunately, Governor Brown did not grant Spoon’s petition for a commutation. Now, a new application is being prepared for California’s current governor Gavin Newsom.
Spoon has been involved in many positive programs that are available to him in prison. He discovered himself as a writer in the mid 80's; and has developed a writing practice that includes world-wide publication. He's become a writing teacher himself – as an aide in education classes at a number of California prisons, in Arts In Corrections classes, and through collaboration with dozens of professors and students in many states and other countries. By teaching, he has helped other people discover their own path.
Without seeing an end of his time in prison, Spoon wrote in an article in SF Gate, 2006:
”...ultimately, rehabilitation is always self-rehabilitation. Prison had to offer the programs, and I had to make myself active in these programs and in my own self-directed studies. Self-rehabilitation works. I had to choose to change, which meant to get to know myself and find my niche, bliss and myth in life. I had to till the endless gardens in my mind, heart and soul. I had to become anew, despite being in prison.”
Spoon has a large international audience deeply moved by the wisdom he’s earned during his incarceration. He's had four books published: “By Heart,” a memoir written together with the late Judith Tannenbaum, his former teacher and mentor; “Longer Ago,” a book of poems; and two additional books of poetry published in Germany (one of which was translated into German). He has written hundreds of articles published in numerous magazines; his poetry has been included in several anthologies; and he's won six writing awards. He's acted in plays and collaborated with artists. Spoon and his poetry have been featured in four documentaries made by film makers from Sweden, Canada and Germany. He's had poems turned into songs by Ani DiFranco, a Swedish choral group, as well as others.
He’s also moved into the role of an elder giving advice in the column “Spoon-ful of Wisdom” for the website of POPS The Club (Pain Of The Prison System), an organization for young people whose lives have been impacted by the prison system.
Spoon’s use of his art in the service of humanity is summed up in a moving letter of support written to Governor Newsom by Kathleen Adams, Senior Lecturer in the Department of English at Appalachian State University:
“I have known Stanley (Spoon) for over 20 years and have come to deeply respect him as a friend, fellow poet, teacher, and advocate for the Arts and Education. His work as a writer and teacher has surpassed the walls of the CA Arts-in-Corrections program and has made a tremendous impact on the lives of so many. Spoon’s investment and contribution to the lives of my students have been significant and have lasted years after they have left my college classroom. As I enter my 30th year of teaching I know of no other writer who has made such a significant and lasting effect on my former students.”
Currently, Spoon is at Solano state prison level II, the lowest security level possible for a LWOP prisoner. He's a producer for the radio show "Uncuffed" (you can listen to it here: https://www.kalw.org/term/uncuffed-0#stream/0
He's also active in reporting for the Solano Vision Newspaper, playing flute in a jazz fusion band, and taking part in a Shakespearean acting class, a creative writing class, a Speak Easy class, and an International Toastmasters class. At the same time, he's writing chronicles for a Swedish newspaper.
Spoon never gives up, and sees opportunities to continue writing poetry and prose and to work with artists outside prison. In this way he's built a large social network outside which will be of great help and importance in providing support when he is released. Among these is an offer to continue his education at UCLA, including housing and opportunities for public speaking.
For decades, Spoon has done everything humanly possible to take responsibility for the life he took. In this effort, he’s made his own life positive and useful. As he says, he can never bring back the life he took. Still, he has given back a great deal through his own hard work and commitment to growth and in the service of others. If released, Spoon will be a great asset to society.
Spoon adds: “I'd be honored to discuss my qualifications and lessons learned with anyone, and share realness.”
Please support Spoon Jackson and ask Governor Newsom to commute his sentence.
More about Spoon Jackson: https://realnessnetwork.blogspot.com
F.U.E.L. Families United to End LWOP is supporting this petition. https://www.facebook.com/groups/FUELendLWOP/
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