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.

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Eric Clark

Photo of Eric Clark

Eric Clark

Under “Changed Lives” we have stories about people whose life sentence was commuted. Eric’s is one of them:

Hello, my name is Eric Clark and there has not been a day from July 7, 1992 to July 7, 2017 that I haven’t faced a Death Sentence or Life Without the Possibility of Parole, or have had to serve an LWOP sentence. Being an LWOP was not a sentence to serve, but became my description and a form of identification.

September 15, 2017, I was resentenced to 25 years to life, and after already surpassing my 25-year base term, I was already overdue for my initial Board of Parole hearing date. I even was 20 years old and became immediately eligible for parole as a Youthful Offender under SB 261.

So, in the last 4 plus months my life has been a whirlwind. Being a Lifer is much different than being an LWOP. There is a sense of now as a lifer, whereas an LWOP there was always time. That’s all LWOP’s have had for decades, is time. But now things are moving in the direction for those serving LWOP sentences, towards an opportunity for consideration to be treated like a lifer. What does that look like? What does that mean?

The conversations I’ve had with those LWOP’s on Level II tells me they don’t see it. So, my advice with those who truly seek consideration and a chance for freedom, Remember Your Victims. Do not approach this as if it’s all about you. Do not come across as if you are owed something or entitled. And convey that you realize that no hardship from an excessively harsh sentence can be worse than being a murder victim or their family.
Good luck to all those serving LWOP sentences. Do not become what you have been sentenced to serve.

Sincerely,
Eric Clark J-36404
CSP Solano C13-7-3
P.O. Box 4000
Vacaville, California 95696

January 25, 2018

This is a case about Eric’s brother, but Eric was also in the court case. They wanted to have this link posted here:

https://www.leagle.com/decision/incaco20160627061 (People v. Clark (2016) 63 cal. 4th 522)