Please Help an Accomplished Military Veteran Regain His Freedom!!
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Governor of Virginia: U.S. Military Veteran with Mental Health History Seeking 2nd Chance at Freedom.
I'm posting this petition for my son, MarQui Clardy, Sr. I’ll start with some background information on MarQui's character and the circumstances that led to his present situation.
MarQui is a 33 year old father of four. On September 24, 2001, two weeks after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, he joined the United States Navy. He served as an Information Systems Technician while also attending ECPI University and serving as a Ship's Self-Defense Force (SSDF) team leader where he received intensive weapons, combat, and antiterrorism training. He was deployed to the Persian Gulf in 2003 for Operation Iraq Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Two weeks prior to being discharged in 2005, MarQui was referred to a psychiatrist (due to some behavioral deviations, hallucinations, and a suicidal preoccupation) where he was diagnosed with "Adjustment Disorder." The psychiatrist noted that MarQui had a "major impairment in [his] thinking and judgement, manifested by inflexible thinking." Despite this clinical assessment, MarQui wasn't given any treatment, counseling, medications, or even a follow-up appointment, nor was he made aware of the diagnosis. He was simply released from service and left to transition back into civilian life on his own.
In 2006, MarQui enrolled at Old Dominion University to study computer science. This is where his financial troubles began. After his car was totaled in a flash flood, he lost his job due to a lack of transportation. He was able to find a succession of other lower paying jobs, but lost each of them for the same reason. As a result, he defaulted on his tuition payments, so his school registration was placed on hold. He also defaulted on his rent, and was notified by his landlord that he was being evicted from his apartment. Being jobless, carless, moneyless, facing imminent homelessness (without even the ability to improve his circumstances by finishing his college degree), and not able to financially support himself or his children caused an unfathomable amount of stress that likely triggered MarQui's Adjustment Disorder, and he made the ill decision to commit three robberies to get some money. In 2008, he was arrested and tried in court. Since the military had never notified MarQui of his mental health diagnosis, this information was never presented for the judge's consideration (even though MarQui's condition undoubtedly played a MAJOR factor in his decision to aberrantly break the law). MarQui was convicted on all charges; although he has a good background, no prior criminal history, and absolutely no physical violence had occurred in either offense, the judge sentenced him to 33 years in prison.
MarQui just learned about his mental health diagnosis in 2014, six years after being incarcerated. He has taken full responsibility for his actions, however, we must also recognize the military's role in discharging him back into society while neglecting to treat the mental health condition with which THEY diagnosed him! There's no limit to the behavioral effects that "impaired thinking and judgement" can have on those afflicted, especially if it's left untreated. Even the Department of Defense acknowledges that untreated mental health conditions among veterans pose a greater safety threat than those which are being treated. In MarQui's case, his impairment went untreated for three entire years, leading up to him making the poor decision to break the law. His background shows that he clearly was not a criminally-inclined person. Had the military treated his condition before discharging him, or even afterward at one of the V.A. medical centers, it’s very likely that MarQui would have exercised better judgement and not committed those robberies.
In addition to the post-conviction discovery of MarQui's mental health diagnosis, he has made tremendous rehabilitative strides throughout his incarceration, including:
* Completing college classes through Washington and Lee University in 2015 and 2016;
* Completing VA DOC's Computer Concepts / Business Software Applications course, and becoming a certified Data Entry Clerk, Administrative Clerk, PC Operator, and Word Processor Operator;
* Completing personal rehabilitative programs through Northstar Community and Bar None / Willow Creek Association;
* Completing faith-based courses through Emmaus Correspondence School, Crossroads Prison Ministries, Prisoners 4 Christ Outreach Ministries, Bon Air Baptist Church, Gospel Express Evangelical School, and Prison Mission Association;
MarQui has also enrolled in all of the requisite DOC rehabilitative programs, remained free of institutional infractions, maintained employment, including as a GED tutor, remained an active member of incarcerated veterans support groups throughout DOC, and been consistently assessed as a "very low" risk of recidivism and "very low" risk of violent recidivism by VA DOC's COMPAS assessment. He has also written a novel, which is published on Amazon, and several articles on social justice for Hamilton College, The Marshall Project, Cell Door Magazine, the Virginia Prison Justice Network. Since March of 2029, MarQui has also been working with Interfaith Action for Human Rights, which is an organization that works to shift the focus of incarceration from retribution rehabilitation. MarQui writes monthly essays - which IAHR publishes in their newsletters - on important prison topics to help give advocates a more clear understanding of solitary confinement, medical treatment, and general day-to-day life on the inside. [Links to these newsletters are included in the petition updates.]
As a result of his hard work and accomplishments, Redemptive Life Foundation has filed a clemency petition on MarQui's behalf, asking Governor Ralph Northam to reduce his prison sentence to a more fair and proportionate one which will allow him to return home soon. Supporters in the community, throughout the state, and across the nation are advocating on MarQui's behalf; however, we're seeking even more support to ensure that he gets the chance he has worked hard for. After more than a dozen years in prison, JUSTICE HAS BEEN SERVED!! MarQui broke the law, however, given the fact that he was suffering from an unknown and untreated mental illness, his 33 year sentence is unfair and unjust. It is also a disservice to all those who have served in our nation's military and were left physically and/or mentally impaired. MarQui has shown, not only throughout his incarceration, but throughout his life, what type of person he truly is. That is why we ask you to please sign this petition to help him get him. Thank you!
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