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.