We are the LWOP’s throughout the State of California, and through communications such as this, we seek to encourage Legislators, Churches, Friends, Families and existing Grassroot Organizations to adopt and/or support our cause. First and foremost, we believe you should know WHO WE ARE.
We are a multi-ethnic, multi-faith, multi-background group of men with one common thread and goal. The thread we share, is the fact that each of us is serving sentences of Life Without Parole for alleged offenses ranging from murder, murder-robbery etc. The average age of our current membership is forty (40) plus, with exception of new, younger members, who recently started their sentences. The average time already served for our senior members, ranges from 20 thru 35 plus years. Of that particular group, most were “first offenders” when arrested and charged; the vast majority were under age twenty-three (23) when committed.
Our common goal is two-fold. First, we’d like to change “our communities’” perception (and later society as a whole) about LWOPs and lifers in general, in that, police, prosecutors and most media have labeled us “the worst of the worst,” monsters, with no redeemable values and/or a cancer on society. And, in a small number of cases, that description may in fact be justified. However, the majority of us are loving Fathers, Uncles, Brothers, Nephews, Sons and Grandsons, who made serious mistakes in a moment of ignorance, committing an act, or acts (yes, deserving of punishment), but certainly not the slow barbaric death California calls Life Without Parole. What many of you may not know, and/or understand about California law (felony-murder rule etc.) is:
“YOU DO NOT HAVE TO KILL SOMEONE TO RECEIVE LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE OR THE DEATH PENALTY; OR THE DEATH OF A HUMAN BEING – NOT NECESSARILY MURDER – NONETHELESS PUNISHED JUST AS SEVERELY!”
There are, in fact many men, and women, serving LWOP for merely being with someone else at the time (before, during and after) that [o]ther person killed someone, whether during a robbery or similar alleged felony offenses. And, as the U.S. Supreme Court recently disclosed, California, and a few others, led the nation in sentencing juveniles (under age 18) to an LWOP sentence for offenses they committed, most often, while with an older adult.
Again, the majority of our group committed such acts during their late-teens and early twenties. Most were on drugs or alcohol; some from poor and abusive homes; others were “lost to the street” at an early age to fend for themselves as a result of drug-/alcohol addicted parents, and/or like environmental circumstances.
The maturing process of persons serving LWOP is vastly different from those being paroled at an appointed date and time. The LWOP develops a keen sense of self (who he/she is) and exactly what placed them in prison to begin with – the cost (human and otherwise) – of their behavior.
We believe “our communities” can, and should, benefit from the wealth of knowledge we’ve amassed during these many collective years of incarceration. For instance, where Governors, Mayors and “Policing” has, in large part, failed the inner-cities’ occupants [see the local and national nightly news]; something, or someone else, deserves a chance (with new ideas and new direction) to prove they have plans, that can make a difference.
We invite you to read the biographies of the men who are members of LWOP: Lifers With Optimistic Progress.