My name is Norman Williams, I’m 48 years old and I was born in Jamaica. Raised in the mean streets of Southside, Central Kingston by a single mother of five children.
During the political civil unrest, in the 70’s and 80’s, my neighborhood experienced the most-documented brutality of that time. In 1978, ten young men were lured out of the neighborhood by government agents and five were murdered, the other five escaping — these men were my cousin and my friend’s father.
One of these men was a part of the Jamaica National Soccer Team, and my hero. This incident is called the “Green Bay Killing.” The following year, 1979, I was shot in my face by a stray bullet at age eight when a rival member came to my neighborhood and shot it up. I almost lost my eye and spent over a month in the hospital.
By the time 1980 had arrived, the unrest was at an all-time high in Jamaica; the military teamed up with the rival political party and massacred people at a party (this was called the “Gold Street Massacre”). Eventually, my mother immigrated to the United States after that incident.
Me, my brothers and sister followed behind, gradually one after another. I arrived in the U.S. as a teenager in Brooklyn, New York with my single mother working two – sometimes three – jobs to take care of her children. I got seduced by the false hope that came with selling drugs and enticed by the luxuries it gave, though inevitably, I would get arrested from time-to-time for misdemeanor marijuana sales and carrying a concealed weapon.
On 11/24/1995, a drug deal negotiation-gone-bad ended with a human being losing his life. I can’t erase or change and will not forget – the question of guilt or innocence doesn’t end there, I’ve fully grasped the trickle-down effect one brand of choices can have.
I have numerous self-help laudatory Chrono’s, a diploma in Bible study, eight certificates from ECS Prison, Vocational Computer certificate, a certificate for Non-Violence Workshop (AVP), M.A.N.U.P. Chrono and
certificate, as well as Self-Help Facilitators mentoring chrono.
With strenuous circumstance and this violent environment without any rehabilitation assistance from CDCR, I am committed to my emotional and spiritual growth, welfare, and society.
Norman Williams K-80125
CSP Solano A5-225
PO BOX 4000
Vacaville CA 95696
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.
The Voice of CSP-Solano volume 5, issue 3 (click on link for PDF):
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).
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.
NEVER GIVE UP HOPE on your search for REDEMPTION
Hung T. Ly
CDCR # F21132
Date of Birth: 06/19/1984
Birthplace: Sacramento, CA
Marital Status and Children: Single, None
Age during offence: 19
Date of arrest: 01/10/2004
Court type: Jury Trial: Sacramento
1) First Degree Murder
2) Special Circumstance: Lying in Wait
3) Personal Discharge of Firearm
CA Penal Code Section:
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.
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.
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.