Governor Northam - Grant Clemency for Uhuru B. Rowe!

Governor Northam - Grant Clemency for Uhuru B. Rowe!

October 20, 2019
Petition to
Governor Ralph S. Northam
This petition made change with 2,669 supporters!

Why this petition matters

Started by Cori Bedois

**For more info about Uhuru, in his own words -- visit his blog HERE**

Text of the petition:

"Hon. Governor Northam:

We, the undersigned concerned friends, citizens, and supporters of Uhuru Baraka Rowe, submit this joint petition in support of his latest request, to be submitted to your desk in January of 2020, for a commutation (reduction) of his sentence. We are of the opinion that Uhuru's 93-year prison sentence without parole is a de-facto life term and is excessive, as the sentence handed down to him is eighty years over the recommended sentencing guidelines established by the Virginia Criminal Sentencing Commission (VCSC). We firmly believe that if granted early release, Uhuru will conduct himself as a productive member of his community and a law-abiding citizen of good character. We pray that you will consider our plea for leniency on Uhuru's behalf, and that your consideration of his request for clemency be guided by the following mitigating circumstances:

1. Uhuru was not the actual trigger-man in this case, and he did not possess a single firearm or weapon during the crime.

2. Uhuru was barely 18 years old at the time of the commission of the crime. The U.S. Supreme Court in Johnson v. Texas, 509 U.S. 350 (1993) acknowledged that the "lack of maturity and underdeveloped sense of responsibility of youths often result in impetuous and ill-considered actions and decisions," and that a judge should consider "youth as a mitigating factor" because "signature qualities of youth are transient; as individuals mature, the impetuousness and recklessness that may dominate in younger years subside." This is quite true in Uhuru's case, as the man he has matured into reflects that the "signature qualities of his youth," which led to him making the poor decision to participate in the crime which led to his incarceration, are no longer present within him. Such qualities stemmed from suicidal depression and alcoholism, resulting from a difficult home life, for which he was hospitalized when he was only 16 years old.

3. Rowe had no adult criminal record prior to the commission of the crime which led to his incarceration.

4. Rowe's 93-year prison sentence exceeds the sentencing guidelines recommendation established by the VCSC by a total of eighty (80) years. This is consistent with a statistical tendency by the sentencing judge, James B. Wilkinson, to hand down harsher sentences for black defendants than white defendants for similar crimes. The result of a joint study by a University of Richmond mathematics professor and the Richmond Times-Dispatch (RTD) which confirmed this trend - in which no factor other than race was found to account for the trend - was first published in a March 8th, 1998 RTD article.

5. January 20, 2020 will mark Rowe's 25th year of incarceration. Rowe has served more time in prison than many individuals who have committed murder with their own hands. We feel that 25 years in prison for a crime in which a person has not actually committed murder more than satisfies the debt owed to society. Keeping Rowe in prison for longer than 2 and 1/2 decades for a crime he participated in in his youth serves no other purpose than to make him suffer, and to cause his family and community - that he can clearly be an asset to - to suffer.

6. Rowe has completed a number of treatments and educational programs since his incarceration. To date, he has earned his G.E.D. and completed the Cabinet Making/Woodworking and Autobody Repair vocational trades. He is currently enrolled in the Computer Systems Technology (i.e. Computer Science) vocational class at Greensville Correctional Center in an effort to earn a third vocational trade certificate. This alone reflects Rowe's desire to transform himself and his ability to succeed under extremely difficult circumstances.

7. Uhuru has been infraction-free for 3 and 1/2 years, and his behavior has earned him the greatest possible reduction in security level. He is now earning good time at Earned Sentence Credit (ESC) Level 1, per §53.1-202.3 of the Code of Virginia and the Virginia Department of Corrections Operating Procedure 830.3 (VIII). This shows that Rowe is fully willing and capable of following the rules of society.

We believe that the foregoing, when considered as a whole, presents substantial evidence of extraordinary circumstances, which warrant an act of clemency in Rowe's case. Therefore, we beseech you to do the right and just thing, and commute Uhuru Rowe's sentence. In extending grace and a second chance at life to Rowe and others whose futures were cut short by excessive sentencing, we believe our great Commonwealth will take a step forward out of its dark legacy of violence against young black men and the communities they come from - a legacy that has continued since the end of slavery into the era of mass incarceration - and into the light of a better, more just future for all."


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Decision Makers

  • Ralph S. NorthamGovernor