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

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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.