"Gone at Sixteen" - STOP the Excessive Sentencing of Children! FREE NATHANIEL WHITE!

"Gone at Sixteen" - STOP the Excessive Sentencing of Children! FREE NATHANIEL WHITE!

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Selena Bolton started this petition to Illinois Governor and

Nathaniel N. White II was brought to the United States from the Philippines by his birth father before Nathaniel could barely talk. Nathaniel’s birth father was a stern military man who was estranged from the rest of the family. He believed he couldn't care for his son at the time, so he dropped the baby off with family members. Nathaniel's birth mother was a Filipino woman he knows nothing about. The woman who he would come to call Mom is the mother-in-law of Nathaniel's biological aunt. Nathaniel’s formative years were spent in a large and loving family, but the teen struggled to find his place. As a child, Nathaniel was happy but reserved. He managed to avoid any major pitfalls. Until one day...

Nathaniel was 16 years old when he was called out of his school's gym class by two plain-clothed detectives. There, in gym class, they placed him under arrest for MURDER. At the station, he found himself in a cold and windowless room, alone, being questioned. Murder? Scared and confused, he sat there. His mother wasn’t with him despite the officers’ insistence that they would inform her of his plight. When they finally did call her, they told her he was being questioned about a “broken window”. This left the young teen vulnerable to any tactics law enforcement wanted to employ to secure a confession. After questioning, the police walked away with their “confession”. (Wanting to be truthful, Nathaniel had admitted to physically assaulting the victim). 

The young boy told the detectives the truth: he and his friends physically assaulted a man they had encountered and with whom they had a confrontation. After the assault, the teens all ran away. None of the kids knew the extent of the man's injuries.

The man later died.

After a trial fraught with the effects of the ineptitude of his "counsel" (a public defender), Nathaniel would go on to call a jail cell home for the next 19 years (and counting--he was sentenced to 27 years). In a showcase of whose side the public defender was on, Nathaniel's counsel knowingly allowed a woman who perjured herself during jury selection, to be a part of the trial! The woman was a friend of the victim's family and a member of the church Nathaniel's mother attended. Any lawyer worth their salt would have brought this to the court's attention. He didn't.

Fast forward to a maximum-security prison. Grown men walk the halls towering over this 115-pound child. Nathaniel had never been in any real trouble, and now, he’s locked up for 23 hours a day with men who’ve been institutionalized for most of their lives. We, the people, are well aware of the school-to-prison pipeline. We know the shocking rates of recidivism in our nation. We know that re-entry into society for people who’ve been incarcerated is unforgiving and laden with obstacles.

Twenty-seven years. Twenty-seven years for a child who was physiologically (at the time) incapable of recognizing the consequences of his actions. Twenty-seven years for a child with no history of violence or any other crime, for that matter. He has currently been in prison LONGER than he'd been alive at the time of his arrest! Nathaniel expresses the awareness that his actions had irrevokable consequences. He's painfully aware that he can never bring back the life he took. He can never ease the pain of the family(ies) he forever changed with his actions. Phone calls with him are filled with the guilt and shame of his youth and his sadness for the victim's family. His disappointment in himself is palpable.

During his time in prison, Nathaniel has shown himself to have the same reserved disposition as before his incarceration. He has shown continued contrition and remorse, knowing that he must equip himself with tools for success upon his release. He has earned his GED, a bachelor's degree, and several certificates, including the President's Award for Academic Achievement. With the support of his family (and YOU, by signing this petition), Nathaniel can use his experience to make real and lasting changes in his community upon his release.

This petition is a CALL TO ACTION! We are calling for a declaration of time served and immediate release of Nathaniel White! We are calling for the state of Illinois to recognize the harm of excessive sentencing on our children! Sign the petition today and support rehabilitation over excessive sentencing!

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