Changed Lives (Joe Bell)

Changed Lives

Joe Bell with supporters and certificates

Joe Bell is in the middle

At 50 years of age and 23.5 years of incarceration, my sentence of Life Without the Possibility of Parole was commuted to 25 to Life on Christmas Eve 2018 along with nine other LWOPS here at CSP Solano Level II. I am still prayerful and hopeful for the other 5,200 LWOPS who were given this living death sentence of Life Without the Possibility of Parole. It has always haunted me and dwelt in the back of my mind, asking myself, ‘this slow death is torture, why didn’t they just give me the death penalty if they feel my conviction of murder robbery was deserving of death.’

I would like to first contribute and thank my praying Grandma for not giving up on the possibility of a merciful Governor. Her prayer in a letter to me 13 years ago was that a Governor would make an opportunity for her grandson to come home. May she rest in peace, as she passed away 10 years ago.

I have 12 write ups, 10 from 1998 to 2006. I have two from 2008 – 2014. I think the Senior Parole Agent and the Governor recognized my turn around starting in 2014 with self help groups and facilitating them. They said “I earned” a sentence commutation because I started the E.D.G.E. program, diversion for at-risk youth and continued my education (AA degree and certified in Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint).

I want to thank my wife Gloria, Geri Silva, Cris Moore, Joanne Scheer and all the advocates of justice reform, including us in blue inside California prisons writing letters to show the human side of us. I also want to thank Annabelle who is instrumental in putting our pictures, stories and accomplishments on the California LWOP website. I think it takes all of these things to bring about change.

LWOPS please keep writing, creating and showing your redeemable qualities, and for those who believe in God, pray, have faith and He will show you your purpose.

Peace and Blessings,

Joseph Bell Jr.


Solano Vision News – November 2018

The Voice of CSP-Solano volume 5, issue 3 (click on link for PDF):


Solano Vision News front page November 2018

Solano Vision News front page snapshot  November 2018

Pictures from the DROP LWOP Rally August 21st 2018

Photos from the Rally held in Sacramento, California (21st of August 2018), by family and friends of people serving Life Without Parole in California. Among the organizations were F.U.E.L. (Families United to End LWOP).

Alex and Cris holding pictures of Kenny and grandchildren

Alex and Cris holding pictures of Kenny and grandchildren

Cris holding a picture of her husband Kenny who is serving a life without parole sentence even though he is innocent

Cris holding a picture of her husband Kenny who is serving a life without parole sentence even though he is innocent

Cruz's mom, Sutina Green, Cris, and Janet Davis there for her son Billy who is wheelchair-bound

Cruz’s mom, Sutina Green, Cris, and Janet Davis there for her son Billy who is wheelchair-bound

Written Declaration: Achievements

Kilimanjaro Shamba Imani (Edgar Hendricks)

Kilimanjaro Shamba Imani (Edgar Hendricks)

I know that what I am asking is impossible, but in our time, as in every time, the impossible is the least that one can demand. And one is after all emboldened by the spectacle of human history in general, and American Black History in particular, for it testifies to nothing less than the perpetual Achievements of the Impossible.

And here we are, at the Center of the Arc, trapped in the gaudiest, most valuable, and most improbable waterwheel the world has ever seen.

Everything now, we must assume, is in our hands. We have no rights to assume otherwise!

If we, and now I mean the relatively conscious Blacks, Latinos, Asians and whites who must insist on or create the consciousness of others, do not falter in our duty, we may now be able, the handful that we are, to end the racial nightmare, achieve our country and change the history of the world.

If we do not now dare everything, the fulfillment of that prophecy recreated from the Bible in the song by a slave, is upon us! God gave Noah the rainbow sign!

No more water… the fire next time!!

Asante Sana,

Kilimanjaro Shamba Imani

Edgar Hendricks C-39600
CHCF D3-129
P.O. Box 31960
Stockton CA 95213

Here you will find the Kilimanjaro Shamba Imani Written Declaration and Achievements

Search for Redemption


Richard Brown Jr. / CSP Solano

Have the mistakes of our past devalued our worth?
We were exquisite, extremely precious at birth…
How can someone become unwanted and worthless?
When with every breath they now want to give their best…
Or destined to be discarded, thrown away like trash.
Never given a second chance to right the past.
Can we have the opening to show how we’ve grown?
Or is that no longer plausible the chance gone?
Separated, lonely the final exemption…
Can we better ourselves and search for redemption?

This poem is dedicated to the countless men and women who are serving LWOP sentences across the U.S.


Hung T. LY

Hung T. Ly

Hung T. Ly

Hung T. Ly

CDCR # F21132
Date of Birth: 06/19/1984
Nationality: Chinese-American
Birthplace: Sacramento, CA
Marital Status and Children: Single, None
Age during offence: 19
Date of arrest: 01/10/2004
No priors
Court type: Jury Trial: Sacramento
Convicted Offences:
1) First Degree Murder
2) Special Circumstance: Lying in Wait
3) Personal Discharge of Firearm

CA Penal Code Section:
1) 187(a)
2) 190.2(a)(15)
3) 12022.53(d)

1) 25-to-life
3) 25-to-life (Enhancement)

Before my incarceration, I was a lost and negative youth. I disliked school and eventually dropped out of high school after my sophomore year. I was unemployed and spent most of my remaining free years wasting my time by hanging out and engaging in unhealthy destructive activities. Ultimately, these choices became my stepping stone to a life without the possibility of parole (LWOP) sentence.

When I first entered the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) prison system, the Youthful Offender Program [YOP] did not exist. The YOP would have allowed CDCR to place me on a Level III medium security facility. Because of this reason, I was placed on a Level IV maximum security facility with limited rehabilitative programs.

Hung T; Ly: “We’re all ex-somethings”

Walking on the positive side of a Level IV yard was not easy. Peer pressure, violence, substance abuse, gang activity, and racism came with the territory and are considered normal. Because of my sentence, I was told by my fellow prisoners and prison staff that I will never get a chance to leave level IV or return to society. I was treated worse than other prisoners who did not have an LWOP sentence.

A part of me accepted this reality, however, with the powerful assistance of hope, maturity, and dignity, I was able to conquer and relinquish the negativity in my life. Despite my circumstances, I made the decision to change my lifestyle because of my strong desire to seek a new and positive way of living. Prior to gaining a sense of direction, I was only existing.

Due to CDCR’s reconfiguration of the point system in 2012, the restriction on LWOPs transferring to Level III facilities were lifted. Within five years, CDCR modified regulations to further reduce the custody level of LWOPs to Level II. Because of my low points from positive programming, I was one of the first to transfer to lower security facilities during these changes.

Hung T. Ly

Since then, I have taken full advantage of rehabilitative programs whenever the opportunity arose. From these programs, I have gained skills to better assist me in the route to a better and new lifestyle. Today, I have achieved a sense of purpose and value of life.

Although I cannot undo all the damage I have done, but at this moment, I can say that I have the strength to never turn back to the negative lifestyle I once lived. Whether I spend the rest of my natural life as a prisoner or possibly earn a second chance as a return citizen, I will continue on this path because peace and success is the destination that I wish to pursue. It is the place I wish to someday meet the rest of you. I believe I have steered myself into a brighter future. I am on the way. I am a Lifer With Optimistic Progress and I am on a mission for greatness.

Here’s a timeline of my accomplishments and programs I have participated in during my incarceration:

05/05/06 – 06/01/12 : California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison (CSATF/SP) Level IV Maximum Security Facility – Corcoran, California:

– Earned general equivalency diploma (GED)

– Assigned as Program Office Clerk Receiving multiple laudatory reports from supervisors.

06/01/12 – 05/14/13 : California State Prison-Sacramento (CSP-SAC) AKA New Folsom Level IV Maximum Security Facility – Represa, California:

– Assigned as Dining Room Line Server.

05/14/13 – 12/09/13 : California State Prison-Solano (CSP-SOL) Level III Medium Security Facility – Vacaville, California:

– Attended weekly Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings.

– Assigned as Landscaper.

– Completed Victim Awareness module.

12/09/13 – 01/13/16 : Pleasant Valley State Prison [PVSP] Level III Medium Security Facility – Coalinga, California:

– Assigned as Program Office Clerk receiving couple laudatory reports from supervisors.

– Attended weekly Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), Criminals and Gang Members Anonymous (CGA), and Lifer Support Group meetings.

– Completed Managing Emotions module.

– Completed Victim Impact module.

– Attended monthly U’re Not In This Yourself (UNITY) lectures.

– Completed Criminon: The Way To Happiness module.

– Enrolled into Coastline Community College (CCC) via correspondence and completed INTO to Mass Communication course.

– Completed three modules of Partnership For Reentry Program (PREP)/Turning Point: Life Skills/Self-Development Program.

01/13/16 – 04/27/17 : California State Prison-Solano (CSP-SOL) Level III Medium Security Facility – Vacaville, California:

– Assigned as Main Kitchen Food Service Clerk.

– Assigned as Housing Unit Assistant Lead Porter/Janitor.

– Attended weekly Lifers With Optimistic Progress (LWOP).

– Received training as mentor in the Lifeline youthful offender mentorship program.

04/27/17 – Present : California State Prison-Solano (CSP-SOL) Level II Medium Security Facility – Vacaville, California:

– Completed Asian Prisoner Support Committee’s ethnic studies program: Restoring Our Original True Selves (ROOTS) facilitator training.

– Completed In-Building Self-Help Program (IBSHP) facilitator training for: Extreme Emotional Response, Victim Awareness, and Conflict Recognition and Resolution (CR&R) modules.

– Served as Treasurer and Information Liaison for CSP-SOL Level II Lifer With Optimistic Progress (LWOP) Activity Group

– Completed Defy Ventures, Inc.: CEO of Your New Life program receiving Certificate in Pitching Excellence in the Business Pitch Competition (BPC) as a semifinalist.

– Received Certificate in Career Readiness from Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business through Defy Ventures, Inc.

– Served as Defy @ Solano Level II Enrollment Coordinator and Peer Group Facilitator receiving laudatory report from Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Defy Ventures and appreciation/support letters from mentees

– Attended weekly Toastmasters International Delta Breeze club meetings as spectator

– Enrolled into Solano Community College’s (SCC) satellite campus at CSP-SP: and completed Business Math course

– Served as member of the group Beyond Ordinary Life Doings (BOLD) facilitating community outreach events

– Donated hygienic items and assisted with the food and hygiene items and assisted with the food and hygiene drive for The Vacaville Storehouse in conjunction with Pastor Raymond Beatty and The Father’s House’s community outreach program: We Love Our City.

– Donated funds and assisted in the second annual Special Olympics Flame of Hope Torch Run and ran two laps with Northern California Special Olympics Athletes streamed on Facebook Live.

– Completed Inmate Peer Health Education Program (IPHEP): Stress Management, Life Coping Skills, Anger Management, and Childhood Abuse and Trauma

– Attended bi-weekly Solano Journalism Writer’s Guild (SJWG) classes.

– Attended bi-monthly photography classes.

– Served as Copy Editor and Staff Writer for Solano Vision News (SVN) newspaper.

Hung T. Ly with others earning certificates

Hung T. Ly with others earning certificates



Duane Angelo Gittens

Photo of Duane Angelo Gittens and friend


Hello, my name is Duane Angelo Gittens, #K22294 and the nature of my life crime, was a Horrific (matricide) for which I was reluctantly a part of in 1994. I was abused as a young child and as an adult teen; in a state of desperation, I vented to a best friend who was nineteen or twenty in 1994, as I was. He did not take my frantic ranting to him serious, but unbeknownst to me, he had company in an adjacent room who overheard my yelling and took my rants to heart. My distresses about being abused, hurt, and neglected for years fell on dangerous ears. And that is when my nightmare began.

I was brought-up in an upper-middle class home. I was a Cerritos Athletic over-achiever with high hopes and dreams of being in the NFL. From the age of 15-years-old to 19, 20-years old, I held down a part-time job while in high school, as well as in college, while playing football. I was raised by a hard-pressed, firm disciplinarian, single-parent mother whose love I deemed abusive in my teens. For a short period of time during my pre-teens, I was molested by her, which I never shared with anyone until I came to prison. I first shared this with my fiance, the love of my life.

While I’ve been in prison, I’ve written over thirteen unpublished books. I completed two Anger Management courses; I am a spearhead for the Nation of Islam and formed student minister, and helper of Muhammad, the righteous people, and have become a 5%. I am also a well-studied, secured party creditor for the past ten years, registered with the Secretary of State.

Delano III-prison has picked my brainchild-baby of a reform class, called F.I.R.M. Resolutions (which stand for Firm – Intelligent – Responsible – Models; also known as Significant Challenges) created by a fellow LWOP named Rudy Murphy at Delano State Prison, who is now with us at Solano. I am currently striving to get this approved at CSP-Solano.

I know that, no matter the circumstances in life, they cannot define or defy who you really are. My testimony in life is to let all who hear me, understand the struggle is real. Struggle is ordained; we all, all of us are equipped by the Most High to overcome any and all mistakes, bad choices, circumstances, people, places, things, environments… for a positive, pro-active, social lesson in one another’s life in society.

Everyone’s contribution counts for a child, good, bad, and ugly. My presence, back in free society, will only project positive, reform insight and strength of a Man whose been to the darkest places in self and prison-of-self and society, yet has emerged to see and be part of the light.