Support a 2nd Chance for a Virginia Juvenile Lifer
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Thank you for taking the time to read my petition. I created this to show support for my loved one in hopes that the judge ruling on his case will see that he has support, he has people believing that he deserves a 2nd chance, that he has loved ones and family who care and are there to support his ReEntry so hopefully they will let him come home to us now.
Stephen was only 16 years old when he committed the crime that lead him straight to an adult supermax prison! He was a 1st time offender who was just a kid. Despite his harsh choatic environment, he has spent the last 20 years doing everything he can to better himself, further his education, become a mature and responsible adult as well as try to make amends for his mistakes. He has educated himself with little help from the DOC since they deny him access to programs because of his life sentence. He has gained stable employment in an unstable environment. He has worked hard to maintain his institutional charge free status. Over the years, he has mentored his peers and he practices religous studies. Stephen has become a man of good character who is trustworthing and reliable. He is someone I admire and look to for guidance with every day life. He has this vast knowledge about so much that I am often just in awe of him. He is someone my children adore and love unconditionally. He has formed close relationships with them often helping with their studies. He has even given me advice on how to help keep my 16 yr old out of trouble. She actually confides in him and considers him her best friend. Stephen has been blessed with family that has stood by his side through it all spending every weekend in a prison visitation room just to get an hour with him. Their support has never wavered. They have devoted themselves to being there for him since day one and will continue to do so when he comes home. They have everything ready for his homecoming.
The facts are that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it was a violation of our 8th Amendment Right (cruel and unusual punishment) to sentence a juvenile to life without parole. Let this sink in... Stephen is currently serving an unconstitutional sentence! UNCONSTITUTIONAL!! Doesn't sound possible in the great United States does it? Sounds so crazy that a child would be sent to prison to die in the land of the free. A child would be housed with adults in a supermax prison where they house the worst of the worst in most cases. A child would be locked away unable to have contact visits (through a glass wall) with his mother or father for years! How is it conceivable that a child is being sentenced to life without parole in the U.S. when repeat adult offenders are sentenced to a mere fraction of that time for the same offense? I never imagined these horrific tragedies were occuring in our great nation! Until I met Stephen, I was clueless. It never affected me so it didn't effect me. Well I can promise you it effects me now and it affects my family now. We need him HOME! I am no longer naive to the facts. This is just one reason I fight for him and the other juveniles suffering these injustices. Unfortunately, Virginia has yet to abide by this ruling. Virginia is fighting the U.S. Supreme Court ruling even after Virginia federal judges are vacating these unconstitutional sentences and remanding them to be resentenced. Thus creating legal nightmares for those juveniles waiting for their 2nd chance.
We are currently waiting for a judge to rule on his case. It has been over 2 years! Once he does rule in our favor to resentence him on all charges, we then go to the next set of courts for another judge to decide how long is long enough. Of course, the length of that process will depend on if the VA Attorney General chooses to appeal the decision or not, which they most likely will. Its a long grueling process! BUT we will NEVER give up! I will NEVER give up! I will remain by Stephen's side holding his hand through all the ups and downs of this journey.. no matter what!
So please take a moment to sign this petition and show your support for Stephen. Show your support of our constitutional rights. Help me show the judge that Stephen deserves a 2nd chance and should come home now! Help me show them that his life matters!
Thank you from the bottom of my heart!"
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