Free my Dad!!! Stop Ohio's Corrupt Parole Board!!!
Free my Dad!!! Stop Ohio's Corrupt Parole Board!!!
To Whom it may concern:
Hello, my name is Keisha Jackson (Pickens.) In 1989 my father, Jerold Allen Pickens killed my mother, Wanda “Jean” Pickens. For many people this should be the end of the story. Lock him up, throw away the key, the end. However, there is so much more to the story. So much that was never told. So much that I want to say, so much that needs to be said. But, just like at the time of her death, no one is listening to Jean’s kids. I am writing this letter, because I need someone to listen. I hope you will be that someone.
The summer before my mother’s death, really the entire year before her death was the stuff Lifetime movies are made of. My mother and father split up. My mother started using drugs heavily, and that is where it got bad, really bad. This was the summer of my 11th year. We lived in some apartments right behind Wendy’s. During this time I got good at begging. Begging for food for me and my siblings and begging for money to get food for my siblings. I also perfected calling my paternal grandmother to ask for food, money to get the lights cut back on, and money to make the furniture men go away, money for rent etc. As the months went on mom’s drug use got worse. Where I used to be a good student, my grades dropped, I skipped school I was hanging out at night and I was parenting my siblings. Whenever my dad’s parents came around, I hid what was going on. Meanwhile, the rumors about my mom got worse. She was accused of sleeping around with other members of my dad’s family, and everyone knew how bad the drugs were. One night in the late summer/early fall, my mom took my sister and left the house. My sister came home with my mom the next day. She was filthy. She was scratched up and she was bleeding from her private areas, and I gave her a bath. This happened at least one more time that I remember. The day my mother died, we argued, we argued because my mom was going to send me off to visit with my dad, she was going to keep my sister. I knew what that meant. I told my mother I knew what was happening and I refused to leave. I told her I would not go. She told me my dad was on the way. I told my mother that I hated her. I told my mother that my grandmother was going to find out what she was doing because I was going to tell. She called me a “little bitch.” What happened next will forever be in my mind. My dad knocked on the door. He came in and my mom told me to go upstairs, I went up the stairs to get my sister and I heard fighting. Then I heard screaming, when I came downstairs my parents were fighting. My father pulled out a knife and I dropped my sister (she was 5) and ran out the door for help. Everything after this is still like a bad nightmare. I remember sitting at my Aunt Kay’s house when I got the news that my mom didn’t make it. I remember trying to get out of the funeral. I remember telling a judge who I wanted to live with and why. Then my new normal began.
Since 1989, my life has been pretty interesting. I graduated high school at the top of my class, lived and studied in Spain for a year, moved to Alabama, got married, started a family, graduated from college (twice) and have lived a good life. At every part of it, my father and his family have been there. When I say my dad has been there, it is not as some memory but, as active as he could be. He has never missed a birthday, or holiday since 1989. Before they could buy cards in prison, he would hand drawn and color individual cards made from manila folders for my siblings and I. As my family grew, the cards and letters kept coming. My kids know to expect their own cards at Christmas, for their birthdays and they know every time we go to Ohio our visit will either end or begin with a trip to see grandpa. My husband thinks he is the “coolest old dude.” My sons ask him for advice about girls, they have written him, and they love him. I love him. Recently, he has taken up knitting!! He has knitted covers for every one of my children. My daughter calls hers grandpa. She sleeps with it every day and will not let anyone touch it.
Today my father is 61 years old. He has missed every single milestone of my life. So has my mother, however to be honest, I probably would not have had some of the milestones if the trajectory of my life had not been so dramatically changed. People say that God does everything for a reason. As a child I was too scared to tell anyone about what was going on in my home. I was afraid no one would listen. As a child who was also molested, I felt like no one would believe me. After I went to live with my grandparents, I struggled to be a normal child. I had been taking care of my little sister so long, I worried every time she was not around me. Slowly with the help of my father’s parents, a good counselor and the love of my Aunt Kay, Uncle Anthony and my church family I began to thrive. My mother’s family never really came around. They did not come around much before her death. After her death even less. Any contact now is initiated by me and is usually in the form of an occasional phone call. Two of my aunts and a cousin did come to see me graduate from college, I always felt though that it was way too little…way too late. Each of these people have told me to my face that they understand how I feel about my father. Behind my back I have found out that they have been working to keep my father in jail.
I am asking you to please look at my father’s case as an individual. There is nothing to appeal, because he took a plea deal to keep me and my sister from testifying. He has served 29 years of a 15 to life sentence. He is considered an old law inmate. I have done a lot of research on this and my fear is that he is going to continue to be flopped every 5 years…I know my dad did a bad thing. He has apologized to me and my siblings. And since being incarcerated, he has done everything he could to remain active in our life. Cards, letters, phone calls, words of encouragement, he has even had his whole cell block watch an entire high school football game on the TV in hopes of seeing his grandson (my child) play…we lost. Every five years, I have to relive the nightmare of that day and beg for the parole board to just listen to us. Every 5 years, we get a no. What I have recently found out is there are members of my mother’s family blocking my dad’s parole. The funny thing is. None of them have been half as involved in my siblings or my life as our father. I doubt they know all of my mother’s grandchildren’s names, but my father does. When my oldest son graduated from high school in 2017, my father’s parents, came. My father’s siblings came. My father’s younger brother stood in his place at my wedding 19 years ago. But they are not my father. I am writing this letter asking that you please help me and help my father. I just want my daddy. The parole board is not listening to me or my siblings. This year they did not even call my brother. All I am asking for is a hearing with the entire board. My father had no priors, he has been in no trouble in 29 years of incarceration. He graduated from college, he helped train service dogs, and he has mentored other young men, attends church regularly and has been a constant in my life and the lives of my family and my siblings. I cannot think of why he is being continually denied a chance to prove that he has become a better person. I cannot understand how continuing to keep him in prison helps me or my siblings. All of us are in agreeance with his release. Why is it that what we say is not being weighed heavier that maternal relatives who, did not care enough about their sister to remain in her children’s lives? What victim lost more than the children of the person killed? We lost BOTH of our parents that day. We have a chance to get a few good years with our father, please help us. Please ask the Ohio parole board to be fair, and reconsider my father’s case.