Duane Angelo Gittens

Photo of Duane Angelo Gittens and friend

Duane

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While I’ve been in prison, I’ve written over thirteen unpublished books.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.

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Meet Roy L. Walker

Roy L. Walker photo age 18 and his aunt Missy

Me and Aunt Missy, age 18

My name is Roy L. Walker (V-41346) and I am 37-years-old. I’ve been in prison approximately 19 years (I was arrested at the age of 18) and was given a Life Without Parole sentence.

Let me give you some background on me and how I grew up. I was taken out of my father’s house at the age of 12 due to child abuse and was placed in the foster care system. At the age of 13, my mother passed away from breast cancer and I felt lost. I went from one foster home to another, and then at the age of 14, I was put in a group home after going to juvenile hall for an altercation that I had with my aunt and uncle. I was always looking for that ‘family environment,’ and I felt I’d found that acceptance in the streets. I never went around looking for trouble, but I looked at my friends as my family and I was willing to defend them at all costs (sometimes even to the determent of my own safety).

At 18-years-old, I was arrested for murder over a misunderstanding (I now know). After 2 1/2 years, I went to trial and got a hung-jury, the D.A. immediately refilled the charges on me and after 2 years, I went to my second trial. The D.A. argued that I was the primary shooter (there was evidence to prove that I wasn’t), the judge gave instructions to support the primary shooter theory and after 24 hours of deliberation, the jury instruction was changed to add Aider & Abettor  – 30 minutes later, I was found guilty for the new instruction.

Since my incarceration, I’ve done a lot of self-reflection. I received my GED while I was in the county jail and while I’ve been in prison, I have done several self-help groups: Victim Awareness-4x; Anger Management; Relapse Prevention; Denial Management; I’m currently enrolled in Lassen Community College,  and I’m currently the Lead-Coordinator of the Lifers With Optimistic Progress (L.W.O.P.) Group at CSP-Solano.

After the self-reflection that I’ve done, I can honestly say that I regret the harm that I caused his family and the community, and I work every day to put positive energy in the world. I mentor young men that come into the system with a group called Life Line; the group tries to educate these young men on life skills and how to make better decisions and no go through the pitfalls that the mentors went through.

If I was given a second chance, I feel that I can bring positive energy to a community that desperately needs it. I want to open up a Group Home and help the youth that feel like nobody cares or understands them. I know this because when I was in the foster care system, I felt I was just a paycheck to group homes. I was to show the youth that things/life can be different.

Pic. 1 Me and Aunt Missy age 18
Pic. 2 Me, My brother, Father & a few cousins
Pic 3 Me & my brother before my mother’s death
Pic 4 me at Pelican Bay
Pic. 5 my sister, moms, brother and me
Roy L. Walker photo age 18 and his aunt Missy

Me and Aunt Missy, age 18

Photo of Roy L. Walker, Brother, Father & a few cousins

Me, My brother, Father & a few cousins

Photo 3: Roy L. Walker and brother before their mother's death

Me & my brother before my mother’s death

Photo 4: Roy L. Walker at Pelican Bay

Roy L. Walker at Pelican Bay

Photo 5: Roy L. Walker: sister, moms, brother and me

My sister, moms, brother and me

Willie Morris Clay II

Photo of Willie Clay graduating

Willie Clay graduating

My name is Willie Morris Clay II, an Oakland California native, 51 years of age, and have been incarcerated since April 27, 2009. After my son was murdered, my life was also in jeopardy, which resulted in me killing a man while protecting myself and my family. There is so much more that lead to my victim’s demise, which I am truly remorseful for and will share at another forum, but for now I would like to focus on my redemption. Although, the unfortunate outcome of that tragic incident left one man dead and me with a life without the possibility of parole sentence.

Photo of Willie Clay and family

Willie Clay and family

I am a proud father of twelve children – three of whom are deceased – and a soon-to- be husband to my fiancé Tonya D. French-Clay, and I strive to be a positive role model to both of them, assist others and
my community in any shape or fashion. It has been a spiritual, as well as a personal, journey seeking redemption as I reflect and expound on my shortcomings with the younger individuals that I encounter on a daily basis. I have taken on the title of a Mentor, and I live by that in the Lifeline for Youthful Offenders Program which is a subsidiary of the L.W.O.P. (Lifers With Optimistic Progress) support group, to which I am a member of the steering committee.

Taking on these responsibilities did not happen overnight. It started in September of 2013 when I took Restorative Justice in San Quentin. Then in Centinela, I enrolled in Coastline Community College as a major in the Introduction to Business; I also received a certificate in the “Path to Peace” Program. I have benefited and grown the most with CSP Solano’s Rehabilitative programs. I am currently enrolled in Restorative Justice for a second term; participating in the facilitator’s course to become an In-Building Self – Help Program Facilitator; and I am a Facilitator/Coordinator for the Lifeline for Youthful Offenders
mentor program.

To measure the potential for public safety, public safety implications of life-sentences, it is valuable to examine the behavior of life – sentenced prisoners who are still incarcerated; the behavior of people in prison is likely to be productive of their behavior on release. Research literature is replete with support for the perspective that persons serving life sentences are some of the easiest prisoners to manage because of their compliance with prison rules and their interest in mentoring newer prisoners in positive ways. (See: http://www.sentencingproject.org/issues/sentencing-policy/ )

The aforementioned analysis of The Sentencing Project speaks to the values, principles and goals that – Lifers With Optimistic Progress seeks to overcome and accomplish. In addition, I would like to personally thank a true abolitionist and civil rights advocate of prison reform, whom actually contributed as a primary component of today’s changes in the judicial system across this country – the Renown Attorney/Author of: – The New Jim Crow – “Mass Incarceration In the Age of Colorblindness”,
by Michelle Alexander.

In solidarity,
Willie Morris Clay II, CDCR AR3562

Michael Brown: About the Lifeline Youth Offender Program

By Michael Brown
Contributing Editor

Throughout my eighteen years of incarceration on a life sentence, there have been many times where I’ve found myself trying to discover a renewed sense of purpose and way to be of service to others. I realized that as a lifer I’m part of the class of prisoners that is often discriminated against by the prison system. We are usually housed in facilities that limit our activities and our access to positive programs. Moreover, society rejects us (lifers) because, from their perspective, we have nothing to offer or give back to their communities… as we are sentenced to die in prison.

However, the program, Lifers With Optimistic Progress program (L.W.O.P.), is more than an activity to partake in or just another program. After 18 years of incarceration, with the last twelve of those years being serviced in the Security Housing Unit (SHU), the L.W.O.P. Lifeline Youth Offender Program provides me with a new sense of purpose – mentoring the youth who are entering the prison system. This amazing program also allows us as a collective group to give back to society.

The L.W.O.P. program illustrates how this class of life prisoners generally rejected by the system and society can be a positive and productive resource for both the prison system and society. The L.W.O.P. mentors with more than 200 years combined experience in prison utilize their experience and insight to teach incarcerated young men the importance of participating in positive prison programs. Allowing these lifers to give back to society by enabling them to assist and influence young men who will reenter their communities with a more positive and productive mindset, is beneficial to all of us.

It is important to understand that the real engine or driving force of the L.W.O.P. Youth Offender Program is the youth! These young men made a conscious decision to work on bettering themselves while incarcerated so that they will reenter society better prepared to succeed as men and fathers: to be positive examples in their respective communities and for their families. It is for these reasons that the system and society should begin to recognize and utilize the insight, experience and will of the lifers in prison. It’s time to fully acknowledge and treat Lifers as having something valuable to offer.

My hope in writing this on behalf of the L.W.O.P. Lifeline Youth Offender Program is to increase interest and receive much needed and deserved support and sponsorship from those on the outside. It is one thing for society to overlook the lifers, but another issue all – together for society to NOT take an interest in the incarcerated youth who will return to their communities in the near future. It all begins by supporting the positive programs available to them while they are still behind the walls.

Lifers Offer Renewed Hope

Lifers with Optimistic Progress

By Michael Brown, Contributing Editor

Throughout my eighteen years of incarceration on a life sentence, there have been many times where I’ve found myself trying to discover a renewed sense of purpose and way to be of service to others. I realized that as a lifer I’m part of the class of prisoners that is often discriminated against by the prison system. We are usually housed in facilities that limit our activities and our access to positive programs. Moreover, society rejects us (lifers) because, from their perspective, we have nothing to offer or give back to their communities… as we are sentenced to die in prison.

However, the program, Lifers With Optimistic Progress program (L.W.O.P.), is more than an activity to partake in or just another program. After 18 years of incarceration, with the last twelve of those years being serviced in the Security Housing Unit (SHU), the L.W.O.P. Lifeline Youth Offender Program provides me with a new sense of purpose – mentoring the youth who are entering the prison system. This amazing program also allows us as a collective group to give back to society.

The L.W.O.P. program illustrates how this class of life prisoners generally rejected by the system and society can be a positive and productive resource for both the prison system and society. The L.W.O.P. mentors with more than 200 years combined experience in prison utilize their experience and insight to teach incarcerated young men the importance of participating in positive prison programs. Allowing these lifers to give back to society by enabling them to assist and influence young men who will reenter their communities with a more positive and productive mindset, is beneficial to all of us.

It is important to understand that the real engine or driving force of the L.W.O.P. Youth Offender Program is the youth! These young men made a conscious decision to work on bettering themselves while incarcerated so that they will reenter society better prepared to succeed as men and fathers: to be positive examples in their respective communities and for their families. It is for these reasons that the system and society should begin to recognize and utilize the insight, experience and will of the lifers in prison. It’s time to fully acknowledge and treat Lifers as having something valuable to offer.

My hope in writing this on behalf of the L.W.O.P. Lifeline Youth Offender Program is to increase interest and receive much needed and deserved support and sponsorship from those on the outside. It is one thing for society to overlook the lifers, but another issue all – together for society to NOT take an interest in the incarcerated youth who will return to their communities in the near future. It all begins by supporting the positive programs available to them while they are still behind the walls.