Do you have an opinion? 7-13
Monday, July 21, 2008

Dear Readers,

As a former tutee of Mrs. Mays, I used her when I was having difficulty learning Spanish words when I was in the tenth grade.  Mrs. Mays can speak four different languages and she is a retired English teacher.  She was able to give me a system to remember each word and its spelling.  Her system helped me get 100 percent on the next quiz that I had to take.  She makes you feel like you are capable of learning any subject.

Zack Clark, Jr.
Lansing, MI

Dear Ms. Risper,

I have had the awesome pleasure of working with Ms. Marilouise
Smith-Mays on several occasions.  She has proofread my Senior Thesis paper which lead to me receiving a 3.8 for the class.  I am in graduate school right now and whenever I feel the need to have someone read my work I always, without hesitation call on her to do it because she is efficient, available and knows her grammar really well.  She listens to your requests and makes every effort to help you even when there is a
tight deadline.  She is more than capable at giving the right feedback for any writing assignment.  She is the best and I will continue to work with her.

Adrienne M. Moutassim
East Lansing, MI


Investing in our youth is economic development.  That’s why I’m supporting the August 5 CADL millage.
If our region is to prosper we need an educated, talented, and job-ready workforce.  Libraries provide an environment and the resources where our youth can expand their minds, dream big dreams and compete in a global economy.  Libraries are often the last resort where youth and adults can use computers and other technology.
Since 2000, library material circulation has doubled.  The number of people visiting CADL has grown by 125,000 a year.  Computer use has tripled.  CADL is running out of space.
Investing in our youth today will help ensure bright minds and strong leadership for our community in the next generation and beyond.  I urge you to support the August 5, 2008 CADL millage.  The return on investment can be significant for our region.
Charles Blockett, Jr.
Lansing, MI

AN UPDATE:  TNCP has been following the Efren Paredes story.  In our March 30- April 12, 2008 edition our feature story was “Sentencing Children to Die in Michigan?”  It was about Efren Paredes, a Latino and former high school Honor student who was arrested and convicted of murder.   He states that he didn’t commit the crime.  He also wrote to TNCP in our July 6, 2008 - July 19, 2008 edition about his parole board hearing.  He now writes about the wait.  For more log on to

"The struggle is my life.  I will continue to fight for freedom until the end of my days." —Nelson Mandela

Dear Friends,

It has been 30 days since I convened with a Michigan Parole Board member on June 16, 2008 to discuss my commutation request.  At the conclusion of the interview the Parole Board member told me I could expect to receive a decision about whether or not I would be granted a public hearing in 30-45 days.

Today marks the beginning of the official countdown to when a decision will be issued by the Parole Board.  It could happen any day now.  Within the next 15 days the biggest decision about my life and future will be made.

Many people have written me words of encouragement during the past 30 days.  I have spoken to family and friends on the telephone, and we have visited throughout that time as well.  I am fortunate to have received visits nearly every week — and always every month — during nearly 20 years of incarceration.

I want to thank each of you for taking time out of your busy schedules to think about me.  Your positive energy, prayers, thoughts and contributions continue to be a source of fortitude and comfort.  As I look around at the broken bodies and spirits that occupy this space we call "prison" it makes me appreciate even more the support I have been blessed to receive from people across the globe.

I recently received a message from a friend and supporter half-way around the world.  She wrote:

"The T-shirts and posters look AMAZING, by the way.  I'll try to make a version over here — gotta figure out how to say words like 'parole' and 'clemency' in Hebrew.  I do know that 'justice' is 'tzedek.' ... I can't wait to photograph the poster around Israel — you have a truly international community supporting you."

Our efforts continue to touch lives all over the globe.  Whether in the Florida wetlands, rural Texas, urban Los Angeles, the Detroit motor city, or countries such as Belgium, Israel, Mexico, Australia, and Uganda — our message resonates in the hearts and minds of people of conscience.

I am often reminded that despite the ebbs and flows of a campaign the size of the one that has placed my case into the international spotlight, no matter how difficult things can get at times, we can always draw strength from each other and the energy generated by our solidarity.

I remain strong and fully committed to expending every ounce of energy in my being in this quest for freedom.  My faith is fully intact and will never wane.  While the weight of this situation is enormous I continue to shoulder it and incessantly work to thrust our campaign forward.  Retreating from a trajectory intended to manifest the reverberating presence of justice is not an option.

As we await a response about a public hearing I am currently making arrangements for my young cousin, Arielle, to visit me in the near future.  It is a particularly special visit because she is now 18-years-old.  Non-siblings must be 18 years of age to visit pursuant to prison policy.

Arielle was the last child I held since I have been in prison.  I last held her when she was a mere infant in 1990.  Nearly two decades later she is preparing to enter her first year of college.  Since she was disallowed from visiting me until she turned 18-years-old it will be the first time I have seen her since 1990.

Our reunion is one of the things I am looking forward to in the coming days.  It is an event in my life that is taking my mind away from the waiting Parole Board decision waiting process and one I wanted to share with all of you.  It certainly helps put the length of my imprisonment in perspective and some of the things I have missed in my life during the past nearly 20 years.

People take a lot of things for granted in life, including being able to hold or touch a child in their family.  I have a nephew, Landon, who is now approaching 4-years-old whom I have not yet seen or held during his life either.  I am hopeful that I will not have to endure the same experience I did with not being able to see Arielle until she became an adult.

As I was constructing this writing I received my weekly edition of TIME magazine.  On the cover is Nelson Mandela.  The article about Mandela discusses his upcoming 90th birthday and the secrets of leadership.

You will remember that Mandela was arrested in 1962 for seeking to defeat apartheid in South Africa.  Twenty-seven years later he was finally released, and four years subsequent to his release he was elected president of the very country that unjustly imprisoned him.

The arrival of the TIME magazine bearing Mandela's image did not occur by coincidence.

Mandela is an international symbol of justice and leadership.  Like Mandela, I could have been released years earlier if I had admitted guilt to a crime I did not commit.  However, neither of us ever wavered about standing on the side of justice even amid a plethora of inequity.  Trying to avert prolonged incarceration in exchange for selling our souls was never an option.

The TIME magazine was a reminder to us to never surrender to injustice, and to never abandon our faith or principles no matter what the cost.  It was a sign that justice can and will prevail.  It may take weeks, months, or years.  Irrespective of the length of time, light will always extinguish darkness.  We just have to be patient and remain persistent.

We have come a long way with our campaign.  Each day we move further away from the date of the parole interview that was held on June 16, 2008 is a day we move closer toward the possibility of my release.  When the waiting process seems very arduous we should remind ourselves o f this.  The glass is always half-full, it is never half-empty.

As soon as I hear any news from the Parole Board I will ask Helen to notify each of you at the soonest available opportunity so we can begin our transition into the next phase of the campaign and calibrate a strategic plan of action.  I have been diligently preparing for each conceivable outcome during the waiting process.  All we await is a decision from the Parole Board to set everything in motion.

Please continue praying for justice.  Keep sending your messages of support to the Governor's office via letters, e-mails, phone calls, faxes and postcards, and encourage your family, friends, and other contacts who care about defending truth and combating social injustice to do so as well.

Remember, "Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable. ... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals." —Martin Luther King, Jr.

You will hear from me again soon.

In Solidarity,


How to Contact the Governor to Support Release of Efrén Paredes, Jr.


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