Freedom for Gary Titus

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A petition seeking your support for the commutation of a life sentence for Gary Titus, a 48-year-old Iowa inmate with close to 30 years in prison. Gary is a fully reformed, mature man with a lot to offer the community he once harmed as a teenager struggling through parental abandonment and an alcohol addiction. The desired commutation, if granted by the Governor, would allow Gary to one day walk out of prison a free man. Gary can only apply for commutation once every TEN years. Public support is a key component, so your help is VERY IMPORTANT.

At 18, Gary participated in a robbery that culminated in a murder being committed by his 20-year-old co-defendant, James Green. Fully intoxicated, they went to the victim's apartment intending to steal alcohol. James, for reasons only he knows, stabbed the victim with a knife from the victim's kitchen. Felony Murder, a law that ignores personal culpability and instead equally punishes all involved in a felony where a murder occurs, required Gary be given Life Without Parole - the same as the murderer.

Gary's teen years were chaotic. His parents divorced at 14 and his mother moved him and his siblings to a new town and school. Alcoholism was widespread throughout Gary's family. To cope with the divorce and the move, he began drinking heavily at 15. His mother, unable to deal with his drinking, sent Gary to live with his father. He played drums in bars on the weekends and began taking Gary with him, allowing him to drink to drunkenness. Gary remembers having little to no discipline from his father - no curfews and no one checking report cards or even if he went to school. A teenager living this way is destined for trouble and when it happened to Gary, his father kicked him out at the age of 17. "I walked out with two garbage bags of clothes and nowhere to go," Gary recalls. "I was homeless for a while, sleeping in a car I bought with $100 I borrowed, or at different friends houses when I could. I had to drop out of school and try being an adult. But I was making adult decisions with an immature mind and an addiction to alcohol. I made all the wrong decisions. A year later, I was facing a murder charge."

Things are much different today. Here are highlights from Gary's lengthy achievement list during his incarceration:

  • High school diploma and completion of 65 quarter hours of college coursework, with a 3.65 GPA, through Ohio University
  • Completed all available treatment programming 
  • Completed the InnerChange Freedom Initiative Program, an intensive, values-based program drawing on biblical principles
  • Authored numerous nationally published articles
  • Certified through the Library of Congress as a Literary Braille Transcriber

Gary has eight years' experience working in the IPI Braille Department. This experience brings enormous value to his desire to produce Braille for a living if released. Prison administrators also chose Gary to mentor/teach Braille to inmates in the statewide Protective Custody Unit, a secured unit with no access to the General Population. This is a VERY trusted position within a correctional setting. Gary is held in high regard by prison administrators.

The Iowa Supreme Court recently outlawed juvenile Life Without Parole sentences. They believe that adulthood is still LEGALLY established at 18, but the adult maturation and accountability necessary for imposing adult culpability are unattainable until the mid-20s, which is fully supported by neuroscience. Unfortunately, Gary was 209 days beyond his 18th Birthday, missing the benefit of this ruling. He does, however, fall within the neuroscience behind the ruling - an adolescent functioning without a fully matured, adult brain.

Convicted murderers who were juveniles when their crimes were committed were re-sentenced to Life With Parole. Many of them are being paroled because they now demonstrate high levels of maturity as opposed to the teenagers they were when the crimes were committed. The Iowa Board of Parole is embracing the neuroscience and showing compassion. That gives us hope that Gary, with your help, can convince them that someone 209 days older and not the actual murderer should receive the same compassion and favor.

Gary says, "It's difficult focusing on change in the present when your past is so destructive and your future so stacked against you. It's also difficult taking full responsibility for a crime such as this when you weren't the actual murderer. I had to learn to focus exclusively on myself and my own criminal actions. I chose to demonstrate my having taken responsibility for my role in this crime by working hard to change. I became obsessed with my own psychology, wanting not only to change my behavior but learn why I had behaved the way I did. I stretched myself beyond my comfort zones to discover my full potential. My aim has been to tip the scales of my impact on society back toward the good, paying with the only coin I have available to me - remorse, restraint, and reformation. No one wants to be forever judged by the worst thing they have done. I made it a goal not to be. I believe the man I have grown into can be a law-abiding, productive citizen who will make a positive impact on the community I once harmed. I just need your help to get there."

Please consider the following:

  • Gary's role in the crime in relationship to his nearly 30 years served
  • His teenage alcohol abuse and parental abandonment
  • His age and lack of fully developed brain maturity at the time of his crime
  • His demonstrated growth and maturity today
  • His advanced education and treatment programming
  • His job training and quality work history
  • His reentry preparation and readiness

If you have never met Gary, click the video at the top, or go to to view him preaching a sermon at an InnerChange Freedom Initiative service.

There are two ways to lend your support to this worthy cause. Simply sign your name to this petition and then share this link with your friends, family, and social network.

If you wish to contact Gary or seek more information, his address is:

Gary Titus #804930
Anamosa State Penitentiary
406 North High Street
Anamosa, IA 52205-1157

Thank you for your help and support.