From Beth W. :
Hi, I am working with the ending mass incarceration subcommittee of POWER’S LiveFree Team. I have volunteered to engage in background research to understand what is happening in the areas of “Probation and Parole” and “Death by Incarceration.” We are gathering background information on these topics including:
- What data is available and who is gathering it?
- Who is engaged in advocacy for mercy in addressing these events/situations and ending the “Death by Incarceration” that the long sentences, including life without parole, lead to.
Our ultimate goal is to identify the issues and who is currently engaged in the work as we formulate and focus on what LiveFree will take on as its focus.
A few weeks ago, when life was more normal, we took the time to send postcards to PA Attorney General Joshua Shapiro to address his consistent nay vote on commuting the life without parole sentences for those deserving individuals who demonstrated remorse and preparedness to return to society. This is one of the topics focused on here.
Many young offenders who received this sentence of life without parole and have been instead sentenced to life with eligibility for parole are still serving time due to decisions being made by the parole board. One such person, within our care (Aaron Smith) will be eligible for parole in December 2020 and we will want to know that he has a fair chance of gaining his freedom. The parole process, however, is not transparent. Further, there is no advocacy provided for the prisoner in this process and decisions by the parole board can be political and/or arbitrary. This is another topic we have the opportunity to research.
Finally, there was a series in the Inquirer not long ago addressing the perpetual invasion of the criminal justice system into lives of those arrested caused by extended “probation” sentences arising from plea bargains for those without the resources to fight an embellished criminal charge or to fight charges of probation violation that are without merit. This is the other topic being addressed.
If you have an interest in helping with this research, please join me for a Zoom conversation and planning session I am scheduling for Monday, March 23, 2020 at 6:30 p.m. Here is the link. https://zoom.us/j/963796646 We can divide up the topics and discuss approaches to the research and share our what we learn. It is a way we can come together to serve those in need during this time of isolation. If you are interested in doing the research, but unable to attend the Zoom conference, drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know the area of your interest.