Clemency for Three Striker River Kessler
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River Kessler is a Native American, Christian, horse trainer, and loving wife who became a disabled medically infirm elder while in prison for a crime committed more than fifteen years ago.
A jury convicted River of possession of a firearm and a judge sentenced her under Three Strikes to 26-years-to-life. This disproportionate sentence is striking given that the prosecutor initially offered River a 4-year plea deal.
Since River’s arrest, the legislature passed policy reforms to release similarly situated people. After these reforms, CDCR program and correctional staff approach River and ask, “why are you (still) here?”
River spent the last 15 years engaging in a remarkable recovery and transformation process. She processed and healed a series of abandonments and traumas that began in early childhood. River came to terms with growing up in poverty. She realized the effect of not knowing who her father was. She learned how her crimes related to being exposed to substances and sexual violence at a young age. River deepened her peer counseling skills to pay it forward. She rehabilitated without any major disciplinary infractions or any violence.
River demonstrates a sincere commitment to living without drugs or alcohol, turning away from negative influences, leading spiritual and recovery groups, performing community service, and mentoring others. Through healing and spirituality, River accepts responsibility for her destructive behavior and the harm she caused. She learned how to love herself, and how to recognize and respond differently to her triggers.
CDCR staff commend River for distinguishing herself through her conduct and dedication to self-improvement. Her husband will provide financial support, housing, and recovery support. River has community support, as reflected by multiple support letters and the signatures on this petition. River has the consistent support of the victim of her crime, a woman who spoke at River's trial in 2003 in support of a shorter sentence and who wrote to Governor Brown to support River's release this year.
River asks to be set at liberty on account of her exemplary conduct, her unusually disproportional sentence of twenty-six years to life, and her healthcare needs as a disabled, medically infirm elder.
Today: River is counting on you
River Kessler needs your help with “Governor Jerry Brown: Clemency for River Kessler”. Join River and 628 supporters today.