Free Michael Wadsworth
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At just 18 years old, Michael witnessed his friends being attacked by a group of youths. His attempt to stop the crime led to the attackers turning on Michael. As he ran away, he used a gun to fire at the ground to slow down the men chasing him. Tragically, one of the perpetrators got shot in the leg and died. Michael immediately turned himself in to the police. At 19 years old, he was sentenced to up to 100 years in prison by an all-white jury. His state-appointed attorney, publicly disgraced Ken McKenna of Reno, failed him at every stage of the process. He later admitted in court that he had misunderstood the evidence in Michael's case, meaning he failed to follow a self-defense theory. He had only ever been involved in two criminal cases before Michael's as he was a divorce attorney! His tragic, ineffective counsel meant Michael was persuaded by him to take the case to trial and was found guilty of first-degree murder, which means a wilful, premeditated act. Not only was Michael given a 20-50 year sentence, mandatory sentencing laws at that time meant the judge had no choice but to give him an additional, enhanced sentence of 20-50 years for using a gun*. Despite multiple appeals, the state of Nevada has continued to try to keep Michael silenced. Michael never meant to hurt anyone. It was a tragic accident. He has already served 16 years. Michael explains who he is today in his own words:
"The man who sits here writing these words is unrecognisable to the 18-year-old kid whose decision changed the course of his life forever. Since being incarcerated, I have gone from being a troubled teenage boy to a responsible, well-educated, respectful, self-aware man. I have found comfort in God, in His teachings and His redemption. I kept a clear record throughout my time at Warm Springs Correctional Center and am now a member of the military-style Structured Living Program (SLP) at Lovelock Correctional Center. I have taken a range of self-help classes and programs. These include Anger Management, Commit to Change 1, 2 and 3, Victim Awareness, Conflict Resolution, Parenting and Relationship Skills training. I know if I had been given access to these training courses as a teenager, my life would have turned out very differently. But as a kid, my instinctive reaction was always to fight violence with violence. I had no role model or training to show me there was another way. I was left to create an image in my mind of what a man was. I never had a positive mentor to offer a new perspective. These classes have helped to change my whole outlook on life. I have earned my GED, High School Diploma. I was employed for a number of years in the prison I was at before joining the SLP and I was the lead facilitator of the Warm Springs Correctional Center Inmate Advisory Committee, where I provided a voice for fellow inmates and helped to resolve ongoing issues, altercations or dilemmas through dialogue, meaningful exchange and peaceful resolution. I was also a member of the Pups on Parole Program for three years, a prestigious initiative led by the Nevada Humane Society that trains inmates to rehabilitate abused dogs so they can find loving homes. In order to help these dogs change, we show them love, compassion, understanding and patience."
Due to Michael's incredible achievements since being in prison, we are applying to have his enhanced sentence commuted (removed) which would make him eligible for parole in 2025. Please show your support for Michael's case.
* Michael's second sentence was an enhancement for “use of a deadly weapon”. In 2006, when he was sentenced, the law stated that whatever sentence was issued for the initial charge had to be the same for the enhancement. That law (see NRS 193. 161-193. 1685) was changed during the legislative session in 2007 and this requirement no longer exists.
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