prisoners rights

72 petitions

Update posted 2 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
703 supporters
Started 3 weeks ago

Petition to New Jersey State House, New Jersey Governor, New Jersey State Senate

Change NJ NERA From 85% To 65%

When it comes to prison sentences, most are what are called flat sentences. However, for serious first and second degree crimes, a bad situation is made even worse due to the No Early Release Act (N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2) This criminal statute forces a person to serve 85 percent of their sentence and even after that there is no guarantee of release. Since NERA applies to serious offenses with lengthy prison sentences, that means a person is sitting in prison for years if not decades. The No Early Release Act only applies to certain first and second degree crimes; no third or fourth degree offenses. Normally, prison terms are shorter than the court imposed sentence. The parole period for first degree crimes generally is 5 years while for second degree crimes it is usually 3 years. So someone sentenced to 10 years can be out in 5 years or less depending on the circumstances. However, for crimes subject to NERA the punishments scale up drastically. For example, you must serve 8.5 years of a 10 year sentence before you even become eligible for parole. Inmates who are sentenced using NERA guidelines, have ZERO chance of an early release even if they exhibit GREAT behavior and prove that they are worthy of release. NERA deprives such individuals of a second chance and yet we boast of a constitution that advocates second chances. There are no second chances with NERA. You are punished for your bad behavior, yet good behavior means nothing.  Experience is the best teacher. Who better to teach their kids to stay out of trouble and put it jail other than a reformed inmate. Yet many fathers will never be able to raise their children and teach them to stay away from prison. STATISTICS show that those with incarcerated parents, especially fathers, have a higher chance of getting incarcerated themselves. New Jersey Prisons are swarmed with minority inmates who are serving ridiculously long sentences until the mandatory time has been served irrespective of reformation. This is no justice. NERA also wastes tax payers money! Mandatory sentencing is expensive and costing tax payers millions and millions of dollars every year. “The cost to house an inmate for one year is $53,000," says New Jersey Department of Corrections Spokesman Matt Schuman. Fund for New Jersey emphasizes the need to curb the use of mandatory sentence and in its article, it explains that when Michigan in 2003 repealed almost all mandatory minimums for drug offenses, during the period from 2006 to 2010, the state’s prison population fell 15% and spending on prisons declined by $148 million, and both violent and property crime rates declined. Rhode Island, after repealing its mandatory sentencing laws in 2009, has seen its prison population declined by 12% and the state’s crime rate is down by several percentage points. New Jersey is not among the states that have taken steps to reduce mandatory sentences. Incarceration in New Jersey is on the rise and millions of our dollars are spent to maintain NERA Leading sentencing scholar Michael Tonry has explained: “The evidence is clear that mandatory penalties have either no demonstrable marginal deterrent effects or short-term effects that rapidly waste away.” It is time for change, its time to correct the New Jersey Judicial system.   Its time to reduce NERA to 65%.    

Eve Watson
61 supporters
Started 2 months ago

Petition to Ralph S. Northam

Governor Northam - Grant Clemency for Uhuru B. Rowe!

**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."

Cori Bedois
40 supporters