|Do you have an opinion? 7-12
Sunday, July 6, 2008
Dear Ms. Risper,
Today was a historic moment in our campaign for justice. At 11:10 AM, for the first time in almost 20 years, I was afforded the opportunity to discuss the facts surrounding my wrongful conviction at a parole interview.
At previous parole interviews I was denied that opportunity, and the moment I proclaimed my innocence the Parole Board member conducting the interview would abruptly terminate the interview.
This time it was different.
From the onset the Parole Board member I spoke to via video conference, searched for answers to questions she had and she attempted to understand what I was conveying to her. She was cordial, attentive and respectful, in stark contrast to previous parole interviews I experienced.
Over the course of 40 minutes we discussed my case, my prison record, my accomplishments, and home placement, if released. At each phase I was permitted to add, confirm, or refute information, if necessary.
Helen was also allowed to speak on my behalf and verify information that I discussed with the Parole Board member. She did a great job and handled the situation very competently and professionally.
At the end of my interview the Parole Board member asked me what I wanted to convey to the rest of the Parole Board members to consider. I emphatically reiterated my complete innocence and told her that if granted a commutation I would fulfill all requirements mandated by the Parole Board.
I further stated that I knew with the strong support of Helen, my family, and friends, that I was confident I could transition back into society and be a productive citizen. I wanted there to be no question in her mind that we were completely prepared for what being granted a commutation would mean.
Afterwards I asked the Parole Board member if she had any further questions of any kind. She stated she did not. I then told her that I would work closely with the Parole Board to address any additional details or concerns they may have along the way.
Overall the interview went as well as could be expected given all the circumstances. The Parole Board member told us the entire Parole Board would be reviewing my commutation request which she held up and showed us on the screen. She said I could expect to receive the Parole Board's recommendation about whether or not to grant me a public hearing in 30-45 days.
During the wait Helen told me that many of you were contacting the Governor's office and told me about the fasting and prayer that was occurring. You each joined us in spirit and we felt the warmth of your presence. Though miles apart we were joined together by the solidarity we have produced. I smiled and was proud of each of you for your expressions of love and kindness.
Even though this interview was about my life and freedom I still paused to think about how many other innocent people languish in prison and have no one to help or support them. It makes me even more grateful for all the support and blessings I receive. I never take any of it for granted.
Many prisoners are forgotten or abandoned by society. They exist as hollow vessels with no voice. Their souls are like an imperceptible blur that goes unnoticed in the spectrum of life. They hear broken promises and struggle to battle with the pain compounded by repeated disappointments.
Thanks to all of you for believing in me, staying the course, and keeping your commitments. You are each an integral part of our continued progress. Together we continue to prove that with truth on our side we will persist dispelling the baseless lies we encounter.
Stay positive, focused and poised as we advance into the next phase of this struggle for justice. I remain in good spirits and determined more than ever to not let this experience consume me. You will hear again from me soon.