Prison Sentencing

83 petitions

Started 2 weeks ago

Petition to North Carolina State House, North Carolina State Senate, Roy Cooper

Reduce NC Structured Sentencing Mandatory Minimums from 100% to 65% retroactive for all.

We need to reform North Carolina’s rigid mandatory minimum sentencing scheme, one of the few remaining in the southeastern United States. The simple truth is that North Carolina incarcerates too many people, for too long, and for the wrong reasons, damaging families, harming communities, and deepened racial disparities in the criminal justice system. We need to end mandatory minimum sentences and three strikes laws that put people in prison for decades. Mandatory 100% mandatory minimum prison sentence is extreme, unnecessary and certainly has little or no impact on improving society. There is a misguided reasoning that the interests of society are best served by imposing mandatory longer prison sentences with no possibility of early release for persons convicted of certain crimes. Parole in North Carolina is only an option for crimes committed before October 1, 1994. On that date a new state law, the North Carolina Structured Sentencing Act (N.C.S.S.A), went into effect. The law abolished parole, instituted mandatory minimum sentences, eliminated judicial discretion in sentencing, and made life without parole—or death—a mandatory sentence for first-degree murder. No life sentence was ever guaranteed parole, merely the possibility. Even for those who are still parole-eligible, the path to freedom is anything but certain. North Carolina’s structured sentencing law modified the incentives for prison inmates to follow institutional rules by reducing an inmate’s capacity to earn sentencing reductions for good behavior. Inmates sentenced under the structured sentencing law pose more difficult prison management challenges than do inmates sentenced under the previous law. More than one-fifth of the correctional officer positions in North Carolina's 55 prisons are vacant, officials said. The understaffing affects daily operations, limits the ability of staff to take leave and attend training and hinders the delivery of programs to inmates. Just recently announced they would close three minimum-security prisons in the coming weeks to shore up staffing and improve safety at other prisons. The structured sentencing law implemented in North Carolina made the management of the State’s prisons more difficult and more costly. Prisoner advocates have called attention to ongoing sentencing problems and poor prison conditions as creating the conditions of unrest. In addition, ongoing concern about the quality of food and limited programming has contributed to the unrest. It is urgent that North Carolina’s elected officials, voters, and community leaders dramatically reduce our reliance on incarceration and invest instead in alternatives to prison, including common sense approaches that can break the cycle of crime and recidivism by helping people rebuild their lives. Decades spent putting thousands of people behind bars have not made North Carolina safer, but have instead ruined countless lives, wasted millions of taxpayer dollars, and devastated communities across our state, particularly those who are low-income and of color. It’s time for North Carolina to move away from the failed policies of mass incarceration and pursue a new vision of justice and safety. N.C.S.S.A is Unfair:Inmates who are sentenced using N.C.S.S.A guidelines, have ZERO % chance of an early release even if they exhibit GREAT behavior. N.C.S.S.A deprives individuals of a second chance and yet we boast of a constitution that advocates Second Chances. There are no second chances with N.C.S.S.A. There is no Good Time reduction available only the time required to be served for unconditional release from prison. Good behavior simply means you get to stay in prison without additional time. Earned time is the primary sentence reduction credit available to those sentenced under Structured Sentencing. Earned Time reduces only the maximum term of an offender’s sentence imposed by the court, and requires full time work and program activities, which are in themselves limited within the current overcrowded, highly understaffed prison system. An earlier law had allowed for parole-eligible life sentences, time off for good behavior, and indeterminate sentencing, but the N.C.S.S.A ended all of that with inflexible, punitive policies. N.C.S.S.A creates a repeated cycle of crime and affects minorities the most:As the saying goes, experience is the best teacher. Who better to teach their kids to stay away from the four-letter words “J.A.I.L.” than a reformed inmate? Yet that reformed Inmate will never get to teach their family, especially their kids who are the future generation to stay away from Jail, because N.C.S.S.A will block that chance.  Statistics show that kids whose parents are incarcerated, have a higher chance of finding themselves incarcerated too. Yet our leaders are scratching their heads and wondering why incarceration is rising, while they continue to impose N.C.S.S.A. While N.C.S.S.A guidelines can be used for all, statistics show that N.C.S.S.A. affects minorities the most. North Carolina Prisons are swarmed with minority inmates who are serving extremely long sentences until the mandatory minimum time has been served irrespective of reformation. This is no justice. N.C.S.S.A takes away Judicial discretion:Judges' hands are tied, and they have no discretion to reduce a sentence below the mandatory time. The irony is that N.C.S.S.A guidelines not only restrict reformed inmates, but also restrict the Judges who set the sentence in the first place. It makes absolutely no sense. A proven safety valve is a smart-on-crime, state-tested, and state-approved way to reform North Carolina’s rigid mandatory minimum sentencing scheme, one of the few remaining in the southeastern United States.  This is not Smart Justice. N.C.S.S.A. wastes taxpayers’ money:Mandatory sentencing is expensive and costing taxpayers millions and millions of dollars every year. “The cost to house an inmate for one year is about $36,219," as report on NC DPS website. It’s now been several decades since states around the country began experimenting with criminal justice reform. Between 2007 and 2017, 34 states reduced both imprisonment and crime rates simultaneously, showing clearly that reducing mass incarceration does not come at the cost of public safety  Inmates sentenced under N.C.S.S.A pose more difficult prison management challenges, including low staff moral and extremely low inmate moral than it did the previous law. The structured sentencing law implemented in North Carolina made the management of the State’s prisons more difficult and more costly, punishment must never exclude the dimension of hope and the goal of rehabilitation. It is clear that modifications in sentencing can have far reaching implications for prisons. It has been clearly demonstrated by other research that sentencing policies and practices have major impacts on the size of correctional populations. But the features of sentencing can also affect inmates' behavior while incarcerated, making the management of prisons more difficult and more costly. Future legislation should consider these effects as well as those impacting the need for bed space. The orderliness and safety of the prison environment can have negative consequences on inmates and staff that may be every bit as serious as overcrowding. North Carolina is not among the states that have taken steps to reduce mandatory sentences. Incarceration in North Carolina is on the rise and millions of our dollars are spent to maintain N.C.S.S.A. It is time for change, it’s time to correct the North Carolina Judicial system. It’s time to modify N.C.S.S.A., by lowering the 100% minimum sentence to 65%, bring back Good Time reduction and expanding Earned time opportunities.

North Carolina Advocates for Smart Justice
43 supporters
Update posted 2 weeks ago

Petition to Kelly Thomasson, Jennifer Crown, Justin Fairfax

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 commited those robberies. Because of the post-conviction discovery of MarQui's mental health diagnosis, as well as the positive strides he's made throughout his incarceration- which include earning college credits by completing classes at Washington and Lee University, completing classes through Emmaus Correspondence School and Life's Key Ministries, enrolling in all of the requisite DOC rehabilitative programs, remaining free of institutional infractions, maintaining employment as a GED tutor (among other jobs), remaining an active member of "incarcerated veterans" groups throughout DOC, being consistently rated as a "very low risk of recidivism" by DOC's COMPAS assessment, writing two novels (one of which has been published), several articles for Hamilton College, The Marshall Project, and Cell Door Magazine, and a social justice / criminal justice book he's currently working on - Redemptive Life Foundation has filed a clemency petition on his behalf, asking Governor Northam to commute his prison sentence and allow him to be released. MarQui has gained ample support from family, friends, former coworkers, college coeds and class instructors, military veterans organizations, and religious groups. But we're seeking even more support to ensure that he gets the chance he has worked hard for. After ten years in prison, JUSTICE HAS BEEN SERVED! MarQui broke the law, however, given the fact that he was suffering from an unknown (by him) and untreated mental illness, his harsh 33 year sentence is unfair and unjust. It is also a slap in the face to all those who have served our country's military that were left physically and/or mentally impaired. He has also shown throughout his incarceration what type of person he truly is, and why he should be granted a second chance at his freedom. Please sign this petition to help us get him that chance. Thank you!

Dianna Clardy
392 supporters
Update posted 3 weeks ago

Petition to Donald J. Trump, President Donald Trump, New York Governor, Texas Governor, US Attorney General, Tedd Gassman

PARDON MY uncle- Release my UNCLE he’s served enough time!

My uncle Dionysius Fiumano was sentenced to serve 16 years is federal prison due to him fighting for himself, while the OWNERS of the actually company only received 2 years. My Uncle went to trial and they slammed him with 16 years, while 4 other (3 ACTUAL OWNERS AND ANOTHER EMPLOYEE)people got a slap on the hand. 3 owners got 2 years and another employee just like my uncle got 2-3 home arrest! Where is the Justice here?  Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force Is the force who placed over 15,000 white collar crime in prison and did not settle this in civil! Help spread the word FFETF Theres more owners who DID NOT GET IN TROUBLE at all!  My Uncle Dionysius Fiumano was part of a wire fraud situation, he was a SALES MANAGER not a owner, not a signer, not part owner, not a co owner just an employee. Sure he might have done wrong(first time in his life ever getting in trouble) but to give him 16 years for a white collar crime that US attorneys office can’t even get the correct amount straight into what they all truly took from others.  THE (3) OWNERS received 31 million dollars from people and my uncles salary for 3 years was only $550,000 living in California. Another employee just like my Uncle got 2-3 years house arrest!  My Uncle has been fighting in prison & deserves to be released! He deserves the same amount of prison time as the 4 others NOTHING MORE! He was sentenced to 16 years for going to trial.  Hes an amazing father to 1 son and 2 daughter who all lived with him. Please sign to help him come home! 

Chasity Walker
493 supporters
Update posted 4 weeks ago

Petition to Charlie Baker

Support my son Arnie King by signing his petition to commute the life (without parole) sentence so that he can become eligible for parole release.

This is important because Arnie is requesting a 6th public hearing. Governor Patrick rejected a 6-0 favorable vote in 2008, and Arnie was granted another hearing in October 2010. Two months after the hearing, a police officer was killed by a lifer on parole. The governor then fired 5 parole board members and selected replacements. After that, Arnie received an unfavorable vote in March 2011, and he was denied another hearing request in March 2013. Arnie is responsible for killing a man in 1971, when he was 18 and had been drinking and drugging for several days. He has been clean for over 30 years now, obtained 3 college degrees, successfully completed more than 2 dozen weekend furloughs, participated in and created many support, rehabilitation, and education programs, and he remains very active in community service. Based on his age, the number of years he has served in prison, his level of educational achievement, and his community service while inside prison, Arnie is no longer a risk for danger to society. Over the years he has formed many significant bonds with people who are high achievers, and they support his reentry as a contributing member to society, including offers of employment and the prospects of becoming a taxpayer rather than costing the state $50,000/annually. Here are a few examples of support shown at Arnie's public hearings over the past 7 years: Charles Ogletree (Professor, Harvard Law), I have never seen anyone transform their life the way he has in the more than 40 years of service in prison. Gloria Fox (State Representative), I believe he is a changed man … and we support this commutation. Mel King (Professor Emeritus/MIT), What we need to see in this world is epitomized by Arnie and his change and behavior…    Jill Soffiyah Elijah (Attorney), How many youth counselors have I met regularly, who have been impacted by Mr. King! Reverend William Dickerson (Greater Love Tabernacle), Arnie King is not the average inmate.  He doesn’t play games.  He is sincere. Reverend Dr. Ray Hammond (Bethel AME), I appreciate that he inspires young people to make the right choices and not simply scare them.  We really need the voice and presence of Arnie King. Eva Clark (Executive Director, Judge Banks Community Justice Program), Nothing short of catastrophic illness would prevent me from being here today to support Arnie King. Lyn Levy (Executive Director, SPAN, Inc.), I met Arnie in 1976 and I will be one of the people holding his hand.  Our agency will help him also. Dr. Fran Roznowski (Community Psychologist), I have known Arnie since 1979, and I will be joining many others to have his back. Robin Casarjian (Executive Director, Lion Heart Foundation), For 15 years, he showed up with a sense of purpose and encouraged other prisoners to participate in group activities. Bob David (Side By Side Community Circle), Of the large numbers of disciplinary reports, some may be questionable, while other were earned. Paul Marcus (Executive Director, Community Change Inc.), What Arnie’s life means to me is the power of transformation, and society needs to see this example. Abrigal Forrester (Street Safe Boston), I’m here as a product of Arnie King.  Hope – Lifeline – Redemption.  He engaged the ignorance within me and told me I had value. Peter McGuane (Student, Truck Driver), I was in for involuntary manslaughter, and he got me active with Prison Voices, which I continued upon release.  I’m honored to be here for Arnie. Paule Verdet (Professor Emeritus/BU), It’s a way of life for Arnie.  He is a superb model. Becky Thompson (Professor/Simmons College), Recognizing Mr. King as a man worthy of commutation, no one benefits if the policy exists theoretically but is never granted. Felix Arroyo, Sr. (former Boston City Councillor), The first time I met Mr. King, I was with his brother.  I wondered about him and found a calm person, at peace with himself.  We have a recourse… ‘cause I know it will help our community. Nancy Murray (ACLU), Why is the community present?  We are interested in redemption… He couldn’t bring back the life, but he would do what he could to try to prevent others from going down that path. George Lee (Community Organizer), I heard a lot about him.  He wasn’t about tooting his own horn.  He was present for young folks and the other men. Seth Kirshenbaum (Director, The City School), Having Arnie with us in the community will help save young lives, and we have a job or volunteer opportunity for him. Banjineh Brown (Boston School Teacher), He works with prevention.  The “Arnie” factor is about redemption, and we use him as a case study.  He is an entrepreneur activist. Jason Lydon (Minister), Through Barbed Wire has been quite active at the Community Church of Boston. Aaron Tanaka (Boston Workers Alliance), I hope you will see his deep commitment to change and rehabilitation. Dianne Zimbabwe (Community Artist/Educator), My involvement with Through Barbed Wire allows me to witness the positive impact of Arnie’s community endeavors. Myriam Ortiz (Executive Director, Boston Parents Organizing Network), Arnie King has been an asset to us and students benefit from his example. Daniel King (Brother), I was a 16 year old teenager in 1971.  We have prayed for the family of John Labanara for comfort and peace, and we hope for their forgiveness. Marva King (Sister), It matters that we heal together. Eddie Berkin (Attorney), People are much more friends than supporters.  Because they are friends, they are also supporters. Margaret Burnham (Attorney), Your legal obligation is to review and decide whether this man has made exceptional strides in development. Walt Silva, Ed D  (Professor Emeritus/BU), Arnie is the classic example of prison injustice gone way over the top. He's jumped through every hoop, made every effort to contribute to the community from behind bars more than anyone else that I have known in my 25 years involved in prison higher education, and remains in prison at a cost of what - $60,000 + a year when he could be out contributing and paying taxes with zero threat to anyone?                                                                                                                 I have written to Governor Patrick more than once, concerning parole in general and Arnie specifically. If Arnie King doesn't qualify for commutation, then who does? It sends a sad message back to the prison population. If Arnie doesn't get a consideration, what's the sense of trying? But I'm sure Arnie doesn't feel that way, and will continue to keep contributing from behind bars. Imagine what he could do if he were out. He's paid his dues several times over. Arnie is the 3rd of 9 children through which many grandchildren and great grandchildren are a major part of this family circle. I complete 82 years of living this month, full of tremendous joys and blessings. However, this journey will be incomplete until I’m able to welcome Arnie’s return to the world community. My son has been inside Massachusetts prisons for the 1971 murder of another human being. He was 18, under the influence of alcohol and drugs, in Boston, and responsible for the death of this young man. Our entire family-and-friends network was devastated, as well as that of the Labanara family. After Arnie was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment, without parole, I traveled to Massachusetts with his younger brothers and sisters to visit him in the maximum security prison. I told him that “God would not forsake him and neither would our family-and-friends community”. Arnie has grown, matured, and progressed during this lengthy period of imprisonment. He obtained 3 college degrees, created major rehabilitative programs within the prison and offered services to communities beyond the walls. He has been encouraged by many people, while inspiring the success of others. By examining the volumes of documents, transcripts, and opinions, it will become clear - the need to support the eventual release of my son. God Bless and One Love! Please sign the petition and encourage your family members and friends to support this effort. - Mary King

Mary King
658 supporters