Gf 2013 05_bills_column

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Executive Director William DiMascio is concerned that Pennsylvania, once in the forefront of criminal justice reform, is now in the rear of the pack.

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Gf 2013 05_bills_column

  1. 1. Graterfriends ― A Publication of The Pennsylvania Prison Society ― May 201316The opinions expressed are of the authors and not necessarily those of Graterfriends or The Pennsylvania Prison Society.THE LAST WORDOnce the Leader in Progressive Thinking,Pennsylvania Has Fallen Behindby William M. DiMascioExecutive Director, The Pennsylvania Prison SocietyFirst Class postage is required to re-mail245 North Broad StreetSuite 300Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19107May 2013(see Pennsylvania, continued on page 15)NON-PROFITORGANIZATIONU.S. POSTAGE PAIDCLAYSBURG, PAPERMIT NO. 84It is difficult to believe these days that Pennsylva-nia once was the leader in progressive correctionalthinking. Here it was that the dungeons and whip-ping posts of yore gave way to more enlightened andhumane ways. Here is where the power of penitenceand redemption were stitched into the fabric of anemerging American penitentiary system.Oh, my, what the years have wrought!Now gasping like the last pack of runners in a mar-athon, Pennsylvania has relegated itself among theslowest states to adopt effective reform.A recent New York Times editorial lumped Pennsyl-vania with Arizona, Arkansas and West Virginia aspart of a minority of states that “keep sending morepeople to prison than need to be there.”At the same time, the paper noted that 29 stateshad adopted reforms that significantly lowered theirprison population and saved huge sums of taxpayerfunds. Even Texas, the iconic law and order state,avoided spending some $2 billion in new prisonspending by investing in alternatives to incarcerationsuch as drug treatment and community supervision.Community-based alternative sanctions have beendiscussed for 20 years or more in Pennsylvania. But theyhave been slow to gain traction for several reasons: theyfailed to be punitive enough to satisfy some, and theyimposed unreimbursed financial burdens on local juris-dictions which were inclined to shed expenses by sendingtheir prisoners to the state.In working recently on the ballyhooed Justice Rein-vestment plan for Pennsylvania, the Council of StateGovernments noted that the Commonwealth is one ofonly nine states that send misdemeanants to state pris-ons. The council recommended that the state fund coun-ties that develop diversion programs much the same aswas recommended decades ago. Another suggestion wasbased on keeping prisoners with less than one year toserve (short minimums) out of the state prisons wherethey are often serving 200 or more days beyond theirminimum to complete programs; this alone could savethe state $100 million in addition to reducing the overallpopulation.Another practice that adds to the waste, according tothe report that came out early in 2012, is that more than
  2. 2. Graterfriends ― A Publication of The Pennsylvania Prison Society ― May 2013The opinions expressed are of the authors and not necessarily those of Graterfriends or The Pennsylvania Prison Society.15Innocent Women, continued from page 4 Pennsylvania, continued from page 16On direct appeal, both the trial judge and superiorcourt agreed that this evidence should be suppressed.Their reason? The prosecutor never had an opportunityto do any re-direct examination. The U.S. SupremeCourt requires that a direct and cross examination bedone. I am not aware of any law that requires re-director re-cross examination to be done. It was the prosecu-tor’s witness who “double-crossed” their fabricated caseagainst me. Now both courts had to step in and save theprosecutor’s failing case. I had the right to present allexculpatory evidence that would have been favorable.Also, I can’t find any rule stating that if prosecutors failto investigate cases that the courts can come in andsave them from their own incompetence.Not allowing me to present evidence that would havehelped my alibi is a miscarriage of justice by bothcourts. The prosecutor had ample opportunity to developtestimony through various interviews and grand jurytestimony. Yet, this was not the end of the misconductby the prosecution: they used perjured testimony, andthey buried what didn’t fit into their theory. Questions?How far will the prosecutors go to win a case? There isno limit.Everyone wants to believe that our judicial system ishonest as the day is long and that everyone they convictis guilty. But, the reality is that they will and do go af-ter innocent people. The jury believes that the prosecu-tor wouldn’t be putting anyone in front of them unlessthey were guilty. The public needs to take off their rose-colored glasses.I never believed this could happen to me. When ourcourts protect prosecutors’ misconducts, where doessomeone get help? We need stricter regulations on howthe prosecutors do their jobs. Prosecutors know thereare no repercussions when they go after an innocentperson. However, the people they target suffer conse-quences that can often not be undone. So, there is noth-ing for prosecutors to lose, when they are sure theywon’t be punished for convicting an innocent person.Why should they stop or even change their ways?I am seeking any guidance you can offer.2,300 prisoners who had been approved for parole werestill being incarcerated at a cost of some $77 million.Most of these were sex offenders — the deadly third railof the prison population, the category no one wants tochampion even though as a group they have one of thelowest rates of reoffending of all.Also included, however, were those who were unable topay the mandated $60 into the Crime Victims Compensa-tion Fund. An indigent prisoner who can’t pay this feecosts the state more than $80 for every day he or she iskept in custody beyond their scheduled release date. Thisis not to suggest that victims don’t deserve financial as-sistance. It is to question if the motive in establishingthis absurdly uneconomical payment scheme had more todo with adding another layer of punishment on top ofincarceration than it did with helping victims or the restof the citizenry.There is much talk in corrections these days about evi-dence-based strategies. Short minimums, delayed releas-es of sex offenders, mandatory life sentences for felonyhomicide convictions and other systemic Keystone Stateoddities cluster in a much larger frame — one thatshould be viewed in the context of social good, not venge-ance, personal ambition or superciliousness.The most recent evidence for this was released by theDepartment of Corrections in its Recidivism Report 2013.It opens with this statement:“The report presents a mixed picture of recidivismrates in Pennsylvania. While on the one hand rein-carceration rates are going down, rearrest rates havebeen flat or slightly rising. For the most part, recidi-vism rates have remained virtually unchanged overat least the past decade in Pennsylvania.”The bottom line is that overall recidivism is 61 percentafter three years. In other words three out of every fiveprisoners who get released wind up back in custody with-in 36 months.All of the tweaky reforms put in place in recent yearshaven’t done much to improve public safety largely be-cause they get watered down or defeated by a politicallymuscular but short sighted coalition of prosecutors andvictim advocates.The prison experience more often than not fosters an-ger, frustration and resentment, and when combinedwith an implacable public that’s a recipe that often leadsto failed reentry.The current administration is putting considerablefaith in Justice Reinvestment; perhaps that will lead tosuccess. Clearly something new needs to happen if Penn-sylvania is ever to raise itself up to the leadership ranksin corrections. Perhaps it is time to try strategies thatemphasize values and positive life skills instead of heap-ing one punitive measure on top of another.BookcaseEntrapment in Blood by Joseph Rodriguez, featured inthe January Graterfriends Bookcase section — is nowfree. Mr. Rodriguez says he wants to get the truth outand is not in it for money. His book is available as an e-book through Amazon.com.
  3. 3. Graterfriends ― A Publication of The Pennsylvania Prison Society ― May 2013The opinions expressed are of the authors and not necessarily those of Graterfriends or The Pennsylvania Prison Society.1A Publication of The Pennsylvania Prison SocietyPromoting a humane, just and constructive correctional system and a rational approach to criminal justice since 1787Volume 44 Issue 5 www.prisonsociety.org  www.facebook.com/PrisonSociety May 2013In this IssueMailroom....................... 8Announcements ...........11Literary Corner............12Birthdays,Graterfriends Form......14Bookcase.......................15News.............................. 2Spotlight,Life After Prison ........... 3Our Voices..................... 4Legal Chat..................... 5Legislative Highlights .. 6“What Will God Think?”by Marie Scott, OO-4901, SCI Muncy“What will God think?” This is the question asked by ayoung teenager named Sharon M. Wiggins, about thecrime she committed 44 years ago. Sharon, better knownas Peachie, had that question answered when she wenthome to God on Palm Sunday, while expressing her feel-ings on how another inmate’s family was treated in thevisiting room. Advocating for others was second nature toPeachie. She lived her life for the betterment of others.Who would ever believe that in the ‘70s, females serv-ing life sentences would attend colleges outside of pris-on? Peachie did. The inmates would be driven to the col-lege, dropped off, and picked up after class ended.There was once a debate held in her classroom over thedeath penalty. None of her fellow students knew she wasa lifer. When her professor posed the question, “Who’s infavor of the death penalty?” most were. After getting toknow Peachie as a human being, and her own experienc-es on death row, none were.An entire floor in the RHU was emptied in order tomake room for the only woman this state had on deathrow — my bad! — the only child… a child whose brainhadn’t full developed in order to even form the intentneeded to satisfy a first-degree murder conviction. AsProfessor Julia Hall of Drexel University stated in anarticle written by Dana Difilippo in the Daily News,“How can you form criminal intent if you have half abrain?” That kid remained on the second floor in solitaryconfinement for three lonely years without any humancontact from her peers. Eventually, however, through thehelp and assistance of the NAACP and countless attor-neys, Peachie’s death sentence was changed to life, andher life was changed as well.Peachie went from being a teenage runaway whoplayed around with drugs, to a Student Services Liaisonfor Penn State University, as well as a Peer Facilitatorfor the Wings of Life program here at Muncy. I could goon and on about her accomplishments, but that’s not whatthis article is about. I’m writing to share her story withyou who never had the opportunity to meet this prodi-gious woman: a woman who has carried around suchpainful feelings with the realization that the bad choiceshe made 44 years ago is irreversible; a woman who, de-spite this fact, went on to live a repentant life. Her effortsto persuade women to rethink their value systems, aswell as the value systems of others, was evidence of herneed to spend the rest of her life saving lives.Peachie’s entire life in and out of prison is an exampleof how a child can come to prison and grow up to becomea woman who gained the respect and admiration of judg-es, prosecutors, legislators, governors, and everyone whohas ever spent time in her presence.Peachie couldn’t give Mr. Morelock back the life shetook, but she could and did live her life in a manner thatmeant his sacrifice wasn’t in vain. She was my SisterSoldier, and I’m going to miss her terribly.
  4. 4. Graterfriends ― A Publication of The Pennsylvania Prison Society ― May 20132The opinions expressed are of the authors and not necessarily those of Graterfriends or The Pennsylvania Prison Society.Fromthe EditorsGraterfriends is a monthly publication from the PennsylvaniaPrison Society. The organization was founded in 1787 andworks toward enhancing public safety by providing initiativesthat promote a just and humane criminal justice system.We reserve the right to edit submissions. Original submissionswill not be returned. We will not print anonymous letters.Allegations of misconduct must be documented and statisticsshould be supported by sources.Letters more than a page in length (200 words) will not bepublished in their entirety in Mailroom or Legal Chat Room,and may be considered for another column. All columns shouldbe no more than 500 words, or two double-spaced pages.To protect Graterfriends from copyright infringement, pleaseattach a letter stating, or note on your submission, that you arethe original author of the work submitted for publication; dateand sign the declaration.If you have a question about Graterfriends, please contactMindy Bogue, Communications Manager, at 215-564-6005, ext.112 or mbogue@prisonsociety.org.245 North Broad Street · Suite 300Philadelphia, PA 19107Telephone: 215.564.6005 · Fax: 215.564.7926www.prisonsociety.orgwww.facebook.com/PrisonSocietyEDITOR-IN-CHIEF: William M. DiMascioMANAGING EDITOR: Mindy BogueEDITORIAL ASSISTANTS:Emily Cashell, Bridget Fifer, Zahara Hill,and Deven RogoshewskiFOUNDER: Joan Gauker(See Batts, continued on page 11)NewsBATTS CASE DECIDED: WHAT IT MEANS FORJUVENILE LIFERS IN PENNSYLVANIAby Mindy Bogue, Managing EditorOn March 26, 2013, The Pennsylvania Supreme Courtruled on Commonwealth v. Batts. The court held thatQu’eed Batts was entitled to a resentencing hearing. Atresentencing, the trial court must give a new minimumsentence, which will determine parole eligibility. Thecourt must also give a maximum sentence of life.The case, along with Commonwealth v. Cunningham,had been placed on hold until the U.S. Supreme Courtruled on Miller v. Alabama in June 2013. According tothe Miller ruling, a mandatory minimum of life withoutparole for juveniles (under the age of 18) does not alignwith the Eighth Amendment, which bans the use of crueland unusual punishment. Mandatory juvenile life with-out parole is, therefore, unconstitutional.An amicus brief was filed on behalf of Batts by a collabo-ration of organizations that included Juvenile Law Cen-ter, Defender Association of Philadelphia, and facultymembers at Temple University Beasley School of Law,Boston University School of Law, and the University ofSan Francisco School of Law. The brief argued that thelife without parole sentence violates the United States andPennsylvania constitutions, as well as international law.Batts was 14 when he killed a man and wounded an-other in a gang-initiation assault on February 7, 2006.This month’s issue is a bit different from our usualnewsletter. Sharon “Peachie” Wiggins, a prisoner at SCIMuncy, died on March 24. While she was known for be-ing the longest-serving female juvenile lifer in Pennsyl-vania, she was much more than that to the women whoknew her or knew of her. Due to the overwhelming num-ber of letters we received in response to her death, wehave decided to turn the majority of this issue over to thewomen. They have mostly written about how Peachiemade a difference in their lives, but also about their ownexperiences of being in prison, having a loved one in pris-on, or release from prison.In addition to the letters in the Mailroom section, ourLiterary Corner section is larger than usual to accommo-date poems we received about Peachie, as well as GraceHughes’ poem dedicated to her mother.We also have an update on the juvenile lifer cases inPennsylvania, as Commonwealth v. Batts has been de-cided. You can read more about this case in the article tothe right. This is one of two Pennsylvania SupremeCourt cases that will determine the retroactivity of Mil-ler in Pennsylvania. According to Batts, if a juvenile liferalready had a case in direct appeal at the time of theMiller decision, they may be resentenced. The outstand-ing case, Commonwealth v. Cunningham, is the otherpiece that will answer the question of whether or notMiller applies retroactively to all of Pennsylvania’s juve-nile lifers. We expect a decision in that case very soon.
  5. 5. Graterfriends ― A Publication of The Pennsylvania Prison Society ― May 2013The opinions expressed are of the authors and not necessarily those of Graterfriends or The Pennsylvania Prison Society.3Spotlight(See Incarcerated Parent, continued on page 14)I WAS A CHILD WITHAN INCARCERATED PARENTby Deven Rogoshewski, Editorial AssistantI will never forget the day my father went to jail. Itwas May 17, 2008. I’d just had surgery on my hand andall I was concerned about was talking to my father andseeing what had happened in his court case that day. Assoon as I was semi-coherent, I dialed my father’s num-ber. We spoke briefly, and that was the last time I heardmy father’s voice until August.My father battled with drug and alcohol addiction formost of his life. I recall maybe three of the 18 years Ihad with him where he was totally sober. Pop neverreally knew how to handle life, so he ran from it, turn-ing to drugs and alcohol. In March 2008, my step-mother was extremely sick. When she passed away, myfather fell into a deep depression and he sought comfortin his old habits of drinking and drugging. One weekendin April, my father and a friend were out on the town.My father made the decision to drive under the influ-ence; he was caught and arrested. When my sistercalled me the next day saying, “I’m going to Jersey tobail Daddy out of jail,” I knew my life would never bethe same.My father was sent to jail for six months at the end ofmy senior year in high school. He missed my gradua-tion. Afterward, he wrote me a letter telling me howproud he was; I tore it up. He continued to write, and Icontinued to tear up his letters. I sent him a birthdaycard in July, but that was the only correspondence onmy end.In August, I received a call from Monmouth CountyCorrectional Facility. For a brief moment, I was tempt-ed not to accept the charges, but the little girl in memissed my Pop. We spoke for the allotted 15 minutes.When we hung up I cried for three hours — just fromshear anger. I couldn’t understand how Pop could pre-tend everything was swell when my mother and I werestruggling! We were on the verge of eviction, car repos-session, and having the lights turned off. During ourphone call my father talked about his daily routine: hismeals, his bunk, his job. At the sound of the word“meal,” my stomach grumbled; I hadn’t eaten becausemy mother could not afford to buy food that month. Myfather never knew that.Pop missed me starting college. He missed my 18thbirthday. When he was released in November, I was noLife AfterPrisonTEAM WORK MAKES THE DREAM WORKby Tina Dixon-SpenceExecutive Assistant to William DiMascioIt was my intent to write a reflective, inspiring messageto the women of Muncy following my unprecedented tourand visit a few weeks ago. Words cannot express the hon-or and gratitude that I felt that day as I was escortedaround the campus as a guest — by the same staff thatjust two years ago was in charge of my confinement.There’s no way to explain how it felt as I looked some ofyou in the eye and heard you say, “I’m proud of you,” sawthe tears that flowed down my former bunkie’s face whenI stepped into my old housing unit, or the pride that I felthearing a woman that I never knew say, “Wow, seeingyou here proves to me that people can really change, andthere can be life after this.”I didn’t come there for any other reason than to assistmy colleagues in assessing the current programming andconditions, and to speak about reentry services to a groupof women who are preparing to leave. Weeks before Ientered those gates, I was resigned to the notion that mydays working in the reentry field are numbered — for I,too, want to put this past behind me and move on intomainstream society. I don’t deny that I have been blessedand fortunate to have this job, this family, this supportteam — but I wonder what’s next for me. I was convincedon that day that I was done talking about my past inpublic, and ready to move forward in a new direction thatdid not include mentioning my time spent in prison.And then Peachie died. I didn’t know her, but a largeportrait of Sharon Wiggins hangs on the wall behind mydesk at work. For all of her popularity, I have no ideahow I walked that campus for two years without encoun-tering her. Yet her spirit looms over my head.Legend has it that Sharon Wiggins is responsible forthe many educational programs and resources that thewomen enjoy today. I did the research: a 1988 lawsuitfiled by Peachie and three other inmates resulted in theestablishment of the law library. So, that brings me tomy point: in the spirit of our fallen sister, we all need toresurrect that team mindset and at once unite to makethings different, and better, for each of us. If that meansthat I need to continue to talk the talk and let peopleknow what the realities are for the female prisoner, so beit. It’s high time we stand together and carry on the lega-cy of Ms. Wiggins. Educate yourselves, conduct your-selves with integrity, and exhibit the change that youwant others to see in you. I’ll keep doing my part outhere, but it’s so much easier when I have a strong, dedi-cated team in there. We all have dreams to fulfill. Ms.Peachie would have it no other way!
  6. 6. Graterfriends ― A Publication of The Pennsylvania Prison Society ― May 20134The opinions expressed are of the authors and not necessarily those of Graterfriends or The Pennsylvania Prison Society.Our Voices(See Innocent Women, continued on page 15)WOMEN CAN BE INNOCENT, TOO!by Jean Saxon, OK-3139, SCI MuncyI am an inmate at SCI Muncy. I was a nurse, which Ienjoyed. Helping people is what I always wanted to do.This all went away in an instant, because any allegationof a nurse killing someone is good publicity, especiallyduring an election year. This case had to go to trial atany cost, even if it meant convicting an innocent person.Getting help for women is nearly impossible. I guesseveryone believes no court would go after females wrong-fully. Men seem to get all the recognition and help fromdifferent sources. When will the outside world finallyrealize that prosecutors, judges, and detectives don’tcare about gender when it comes to convictions? Yes,females get wrongfully convicted as well as men. Wewomen want to be heard. We will no longer be silent.In my case, detectives attended the autopsy andbrought with them a couple of pages from the patient’schart. The detectives put in the pathologist’s ear whatthey wanted the cause of death to be. This pathologistaccommodated them by giving them the cause of deathneeded to go forward with this case. Yes, at the trial,the pathologist admitted he never read the patient’smedical records until he was waiting to testify at thepreliminary hearing. That’s when he realized the pa-tient had pill fragments in his stool, and that the pa-tient never received any intravenous fluids at all whilehe was in the emergency room. This all is very unusualfor someone in critical condition. The pathologist admit-ted he never did any microscopic or toxicology examina-tions on any tissues, fluids, or pill fragments during theautopsy. This procedure is very unusual when an indi-vidual dies for no apparent cause of death, except thatthe official police supplied what they wanted the out-come to be. The pathologist stated he could not deter-mine the cause of death to a degree of medical certainty.Given the scientific evidence, they could not prove Ihad anything to do with this death. The prosecutorfailed to meet his obligation under the corpus delictirequirements that a case may not go to the fact-finderswhere independent evidence does not suggest that acrime had occurred. The prosecutor wanted a convictionof a nurse at any cost. It is not above them to manipu-late or fabricate unsubstantiated evidence.Unfortunately for me, the deception didn’t end here.The prosecutor had a witness with cancer who wasgong to pass away prior to the trial. The prosecutorwanted to preserve his testimony. Arrangements weremade with the defense for an oral deposition. There wasdirect examination, followed by cross examination. Thenthe deposition had to be ended because the witness be-gan to get tired. The cross examination produced testi-mony helpful to the defense’s case, thus, damaging tothe prosecutor’s case. This was a major piece of the pros-ecutor’s case against me. The prosecutor asked that herown witness’ deposition be suppressed.IN MEMORY OF PEACHIEby Trina Garnett, OO-5545, SCI MuncyI never thought I’d live to see such a sad day. When thesergeant came to my unit and told me Peachie hadpassed away, I balled up in his arms and just cried myheart out. I still can’t believe she won’t be coming downto talk to me like she did each and every week, becauseshe knew I couldn’t walk well with my MS.I was about 13 or 14 when I came to Muncy, andPeachie took me under her wing. I didn’t know a lotabout life and the world I lived in. All I knew was that Iwas supposed to stay here for life, whatever that meant.Peachie taught me everything back then. I can remem-ber not even knowing what a “monthly” was, so when ithappened to me, I thought I was dying. I ran screaming toPeachie and she said, “It’s all right Trina, you’re okay. Youjust got your monthly.” She explained everything about itto me and she showed me how to take care of myself.We used to have refrigerators in each unit and I’d goget the ice cream out of the freezer and sit in a corner andeat it. The inmates bought their own ice cream, but I’dtake any pint and eat it all by myself all the time. Oneday Peachie was looking for her ice cream, cussing andfussing about somebody stealing it. Some girl pointed atme and accused me of it, but when Peachie saw me eatingit she told the girl to leave me alone, that it was OK if Iate her ice cream. From that moment on, Peachie madesure there was a pint of ice cream sitting in the corner ofthe refrigerator for me; she knew I loved my ice cream.She also knew I hated doing my detail, which wassweeping and mopping the hallway, so she would get thebroom and mop out and help me. Sometimes I wouldrefuse to do it and she would do it for me and tell thematron I did my detail. She taught me how to wash myclothes on a scrub board, and I hated that, too. My littleknuckles would be so sore.Peachie put me on her softball team and taught me thegame. I would hit the ball and it would go way out wherenobody was standing and I would jump and laugh at thebatter’s pad. She would yell, “Run Trina, run!” And Iwould run and keep on running, because I thought thatwas what I was supposed to do; then she would say, “No!Don’t run no more!” and I would have to stop and runback to the base. She was just so much fun.I just want to say that I will forever miss you, Peachie,and will always remember and love the good times we had.If you can see me right now, “I love you Buddy Buddy!”
  7. 7. Graterfriends ― A Publication of The Pennsylvania Prison Society ― May 2013The opinions expressed are of the authors and not necessarily those of Graterfriends or The Pennsylvania Prison Society.5Do you want to subscribe toGraterfriends?See the order form onPage 14.Legal Chat(See Legal Chat, continued on page 13)MY PLEA FOR HELPMy brother-in-law and I were found guilty of two first-degree murders we honestly had nothing to do with. Aftersentencing, I began reaching out to everyone and anyone,looking for help. With over 150 letters sent out, I’m feelingvery discouraged. We are still in our direct appeal stages.Since trial, newly discovered evidence has turned up,along with witnesses feeling bad about their lies andwilling to tell the truth. Our problem? The attorneys re-fuse to act upon the information I’ve given them. Theyrefuse to even look into issues, though the proof staresthem in their faces.Please, if anyone out there truly cares about seeingjustice done and can aid in any way, shape, or form, I’mbegging you for it. I don’t want to grow old and die inprison for murders I didn’t commit. Our families andchildren need and miss us. You can contact me at SCICamp Hill if you’re willing to help.To all the innocent and wrongly convicted, my prayersgo out to you and your families. Remain strong and keepfighting! Robert McDowell, Jr., our innocence will oneday be revealed; have faith and you’ll see. I will neverstop fighting for our freedom.Gerald DrummondJW-3732, SCI Camp HillCAN SOMEONE HELP ME OUT?I’m locked up right now at SCI Albion with a 10-to-23-year sentence. I have so much time because this is con-sidered my second strike. My first strike came when Iwas 17 years old, for an armed robbery. Of course, I didnot know it was a strike at that time. But I was sent toPine Grove with a 3.5-to-7-year sentence. So, I was certi-fied as an adult.Now I’m wondering if there is anything I can do to getthat strike removed from when I was a juvenile: thatway, I can lessen the time I’m currently serving. I wasthinking of filing something in court stating that a juve-nile record cannot be used in court against an adult. I’mnot sure if that will work, since I was certified as anadult. I was also thinking about stating the case law thatrefers to a juvenile brain not being fully developed. Theproblem is that I don’t know if or where I should start. Ihave no idea what paperwork to file. I don’t even know ifI’m on the right track. I’ve been going to the law librarybut I just can’t seem to get the help I need. If there isanyone that could help me in any way, please feel free towrite me. I would really appreciate it. I only have fourmore months to file my PCRA for my 10-to-23-year sen-tence, so if you could help me before then I would greatlyappreciate it.Also, is it cruel and unusual punishment for a juvenileto receive a strike, since it could potentially lead to a lifesentence under the three strike rule? If I’m way offcourse, please respectfully let me know.Jarvay DavisKQ-4882, SCI AlbionATTENTION ALL ACTIVISTS!Currently, a legislative bill has been drafted and is inpreparation to be presented to the Pennsylvania GeneralAssembly for consideration and vote (to be approved ordisapproved).This bill proposes parole eligibility after 25 years for allmen and women serving “Life Imprisonment” sentencesthroughout Pennsylvania, who were 18 years of age orolder at the time of their offense(s).To support this bill, please add your signature of sup-port, and ask your friends and loved ones to add theirsignature of support to our online petition, which is ac-cessible at www.PAsentencing.com.Seek truth. Be aware. Make a difference.George Rahsaan Brooks-BeyAP-4884, SCI FrackvilleEditorial note: You may also contact this organization at:PAsentencing.comPO Box 98158Pittsburgh, PA 15527412-253-5593WHY NO PROPER TAX FORMS?Why are the institutions not allowing us to possess orobtain proper tax forms to file for tax returns on consum-er/commissary goods that we purchase and pay goodmoney for? Are they not allowing us to file for tax re-funds because they are filing them on our behalf, usingour records and our commissary receipts? What can we
  8. 8. Graterfriends ― A Publication of The Pennsylvania Prison Society ― May 20136The opinions expressed are of the authors and not necessarily those of Graterfriends or The Pennsylvania Prison Society.Ann SchwartzmanPolicy Director, The Pennsylvania Prison SocietyLegislative HighlightsThere are six expungement-related bills now before the Pennsylvania General Assembly. They are listed below. ThePrison Society supports expungement and giving individuals a second chance. We are reviewing the legislation to de-termine the differences between them and their impact. We have not yet listed our position on the specific bills. Pleasenote that this list is current as of April 16, 2013.BILL NO.PRINTER NO.DESCRIPTION CHIEF SPONSOR PPS POSITIONSB 328PN 251Second Chance Legislation: Record expungement is permit-ted for non-violent offenders who have been free from arrestor prosecution for at least five years. (In Senate Judici-ary 1/30/13)Sen. S. KitchenD-Philadelphia Cty.SupportExpungementSB 391PN 433Individuals who have second- or third-degree misdemean-ors can apply for record expungement after seven or tenyears, respectively, if they have maintained a clean record.Certain misdemeanor offenses are excluded.(Re-referred to Senate Appropriations 4/9/13)Sen. T. SolobayD-Allegheny, Green,Washington, andWestmorelandcountiesSupportExpungementSB 711PN 733Provides for record expungement if individual was wronglyconvicted. Adds provisions for wrongful convictions, eyewit-ness identification, and more. (In Senate Judiciary3/20/13)Sen. S. GreenleafR-Bucks andMontgomerycountiesSupportExpungementHB 908PN 1049Criminal record may be expunged if offender has been freeof arrest/prosecution for seven years following the sentenceof the offense. Does not apply for a long list of offenses(mostly violent). (In House Judiciary 3/11/13)Rep. J. HarrisD-Philadelphia Cty.SupportExpungementHB 909PN 1050Automatic expungement for non-convictions or dismissedcharges after eighteen months. (In House Judiciary3/11/13)Rep. J. HarrisD-Philadelphia Cty.SupportExpungementHB 1140PN 1398Further provides for the definition of exoneration, expunge-ment, and specific proceedings. Allows an individual (18years or older) to file an expungement petition if they havealready been exonerated. Provides for automatic expunge-ment when specified outcomes (i.e. a re-trial where defend-ant was found not guilty) resulted from DNA evidence.(In House Judiciary 4/9/13)Rep. J. RoebuckD-Philadelphia Cty.SupportExpungementHB 1004PN 1178Provides for consideration of race in sentencing capital cas-es; no person shall be sentenced to death or shall be execut-ed under any judgment based on race. (In House Judici-ary 3/14/13)Rep. R. MatzieD-Allegheny andBeaver countiesSupport
  9. 9. Graterfriends ― A Publication of The Pennsylvania Prison Society ― May 2013The opinions expressed are of the authors and not necessarily those of Graterfriends or The Pennsylvania Prison Society.7[address of legislator]Dear Representative__________:I am writing to urge your support of HB 1004, regarding taking race into consideration indeath penalty cases. According to Amnesty International’s 2003 report US: Death by Dis-crimination - The Continuing Role of Race in Capital Cases: Even though blacks and whites are murder victims in nearly equal numbers ofcrimes, 80 percent of people executed since the death penalty was reinstated havebeen executed for murders involving white victims. More than 20 percent of black defendants who have been executed were convictedby all-white juries.Furthermore, a 2007 report sponsored by the American Bar Association concluded thatone-third of the African-American death row inmates in Philadelphia would have re-ceived sentences of life imprisonment if they had not been African-American. (See Evalu-ating Fairness and Accuracy in State Death Penalty Systems: The Pennsylvania DeathPenalty Assessment Report)Representative Matzie’s bill seeks to address this issue by giving capital case defendantsthe ability to appeal their case if they feel race played a part in their sentencing. Suchevidence includes testimony of attorneys, prosecutors, law enforcement officers, jurors, orother members of the criminal justice system.This is important to me because [Add your own thoughts here, if you wish.]Race should never be a factor when considering punishment as absolute as a death sen-tence. I urge your support for HB 1004.Sincerely,
  10. 10. Graterfriends ― A Publication of The Pennsylvania Prison Society ― May 20138The opinions expressed are of the authors and not necessarily those of Graterfriends or The Pennsylvania Prison Society.MailroomHERE I RESIDEHere I reside at SCI Muncy, 27 years old, serving a2-to-4-year sentence. I walk this campus with a lot of myfellow inmates who will not see society again. Many ofthem I have become so close to that I love them uncondi-tionally. Ms. Brenda Watkins, Ms. Naomi Blount, Ms.Marie Scott, and last but not least, Ms. Sharon Wiggins,may you rest in peace.These four phenomenal women have kept me on myfeet since I walked onto this campus. They have helpedme change my life from destructive to constructive.I was housed in the RHU for assault for 180 days. Iused to be Ms. Mechie’s cellmate. She is also doing a lifesentence. She helped me build a close relationship withGod as we prayed together each and every day.I thought my life was over, during those long repetitivedays and cold nights locked in a cell. My mind wanderedaimlessly. These four women gave me direction. Theygave me hope for the future.As for Peachie, I never knew this day would come sofast. I only knew you for two years, but it seemed like for-ever. You instilled so much knowledge and wisdom in methat I know it will last. You will live forever in my heart.You were my motivation when the Devil would haveme in an uproar, but you also taught me that I wasyoung and to get out of this place and let my wings soar.You also told me that I never know what my futureholds, stay strong, get help, and lean toward God.You told me that I was a strong black woman whochooses her destiny, and to never let these people get thebest of me.My nights are restless, just missing and thinking ofyou. Now I feel I’m lost in the darkness, looking for alight, asking God to help me fight. You always told methat God has a special plan for me: just follow God andHe will lead the way. But I must say that after March24, 2013, life is not for play. I must say that this ladywas a phenomenal woman!Ayesha M. PlattOR-4425, SCI MuncyEditorial note: Ms. Platt sent us two letters that were veryrelevant and easily tied together, so we combined theminto the one letter you see above.SHARON “PEACHIE” WIGGINSI spent 20 years with you, years with so many memo-ries, good and bad. The good: you were always fightingfor everyone else, no matter the problem. The bad: howthese people would not free us. But you are free now, real-ly free, no more pain, hurt, sorrow, worry, or tears. I loveyou, but God loved you more. He saw your job well done.You are gone, but never forgotten. You were always thereto listen to my problems and support me. I will never for-get the many laughs together, living in the unit together,and working together. I will never forget how you lovedtuna, chili, and jelly beans, or the meals you, me, and Nao-mi shared everyday. But most of all, I will always remem-ber how you tried to keep me on the right track, telling methat I deserve more and not to be a fool. You would fuss atme and I would always look up to you. I would always beso stressed about my girls, Babe, Lesha, and Kim, and youwould say “You are going to kill yourself.”This is not goodbye, for I will see you again. Until then,I will miss you and think of you. I love you and I have avivid image of your face with that smile in my mind. Youmade a lifelong impression on me and I thank God for thetime I had to share with you on this earth. Rest in peace,my friend. You fought a good fight and you won the bat-tle. Yes, I cried because I will miss you, but more so be-cause I know you are free and I can’t wait to get there.We are family.You are me and I am you.Sylvia BoykenOC-3555, SCI MuncyNOT “THE LAST WORD” ONSHARON WIGGINSThis is not, not, NOT, “The Last Word” on Sharon Wig-gins! No words can describe the total devastation I feel,now that the initial shock of her passing has worn off.Peachie, as so many of us affectionately called her, left usin March, and I know I speak for countless others when Isay that life will never be the same.How do you say goodbye to a woman who had an inte-gral role in helping you grow, change, and realize yourpurpose? How do you honor her contribution to your life,this fight for freedom, and the battle to positively changethe next generation? In her words to me on many occa-sions, “You stay strong, and you do something.”Peachie was a pillar of this community, loved by the oldand the new, looked up to by many, never disrespectedbecause she carried herself with a cool poise and an un-matched dignity. I admired her. I loved her. I was in aweof everything about her.In losing her, I could feel defeated, but I refuse to letthat be, for it would disrespect her legacy. She taught,after many hard lessons learned, and if I’m even a smallpercentage as successful in passing on knowledge asPeachie was, then I will not have lost my mentor andfriend in vain.The passing of the juvenile lifer law should have freedher. Instead, death came first, and Sharon suffers nomore. We lost a champion, and we CANNOT lose sight of
  11. 11. Graterfriends ― A Publication of The Pennsylvania Prison Society ― May 2013The opinions expressed are of the authors and not necessarily those of Graterfriends or The Pennsylvania Prison Society.9our ultimate goal. Let us honor all those who supportedand fought with Peachie. Let us do more than we’ve everdone before. Let us push for more support, for less fear,and equal representation. Let us ALL grab the reins. Theonly way to truly honor Sharon Wiggins is to tighten upour boot straps and ride on!Rest Peachie. You will forever be loved and missed!Terri HarperOB-7637, SCI Muncy“FREE AT LAST, FREE AT LAST, THANK GODALMIGHTY, SHE’S FREE AT LAST!”Today, Palm Sunday, we lost our hero, Sharon M. Wig-gins. Most knew her as “Peachie.” She came to prison ajuvenile at the tender age of seventeen. She was sen-tenced to death! Through appeals and the NAACPfighting for her, she was taken off death row and sen-tence to life imprisonment.Her true fight then truly began. Sharon broke the bar-rier for women to be able to attend an educational pre-release program; she was the only inmate sentenced tolife to be permitted to attend Williamsport Area Commu-nity College [now the Pennsylvania College of Technolo-gy] without an escort.Peachie was smart and humorous. She helped manyobtain their GEDs. There was not one whom she helpedthat failed the test! It was a well-known fact. Peoplewould say, “If you want to pass your GED, go to Peachie!”Peachie worked with the drug and alcohol unit, becom-ing a Peer Facilitator. She tried to get the women tolearn from the mistakes that brought her here. Peachiewould take them through a journey of the criminal mindto help them understand their own behaviors.Peachie was candid and real. She would receive countlessletters from the inmates — sometimes she couldn’t remem-ber who they were — that said, “Thank you, Ms. Peachie,for all that you did for me while I was in Muncy. You werea big inspiration to me, and I’ll never forget you.”Peachie had much respect for her two friends, FosterTarver and Samuel Barlow, whom she grew up with, andloved dearly. Her hopes and dreams were that the threeof them would someday be free from prison and reuniteas the new individuals they had all become.Peachie was loved by many, and known by all. Like thesong from Cheers, “Everybody knows her name.” Peachie’sdeath was quick, surrounded by friends who had becomeher second family. She didn’t suffer, and won’t anymore!Naomi BlountOO-7053, SCI MuncyREMEMBERING PEACHIEIt is with my deepest humility, as well as my highestregard, that I sit and write this passage about such abeautiful spirit, known to many as “Peachie.” She hastouched so many peoples’ lives in such a profound way.She has gone above and beyond on countless occasionsfor so many people, and it was done in a non-discrim-inatory fashion because you were a human being with amission. She believed in justice and in peace.I also believe that she died disputing an unjust cause,and that is what she should be remembered most for: herrelentlessness to make a difference and bring aboutchange. So cry not for her…rejoice!Peachie, I love you and will miss you dearly. I smiletoday, for you were sustaining and being sustained bythe arms of your beloved.Takesha Green, aka WeezieOS-2309, SCI MuncyPEACHIE WILL NEVER BE FORGOTTENSharon “Peachie” Wiggins; there is so much to sayabout someone as special as she. She was someone youcould talk to about anything and everything. She had asmile that could light up a room. She helped so many getthrough rough times. When I first met Peachie andlearned her story, I knew right then and there that shewas a strong person inside and out. She made the best ofher situation, always had a smile on her face, and madeus all laugh. Peachie will always have a special place inmy heart and she will never be forgotten. We all love youand miss you.Shannon ChamberlainOQ-6165, SCI MuncyREMEMBERING PEACHIEOn March 24, 2013 we lost a four star general, a truewarrior in the face of adversities. I never knew what abroken heart felt like until that moment I heard of herpassing. I think of all she’s done for me and my sistershere at Muncy. I hope, as the troopers I know we can be,that we continue the struggle, stay united, and fulfill herdream of freedom. You are among other women of yourstature — Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, just to name afew. So, rest in peace Peachie, my friend, my hero. Rideinto paradise, for you will forever be loved and missed.Keep on teaching baby, we hear you.Shavonne RobbinsOC-0204, SCI Muncy(See Mailroom, continued on page 10)
  12. 12. Graterfriends ― A Publication of The Pennsylvania Prison Society ― May 201310The opinions expressed are of the authors and not necessarily those of Graterfriends or The Pennsylvania Prison Society.When submitting a letter or columnto Graterfriends for publication,please attach a letter (or write onyour submission) that it is forpublication and that you are theoriginal author; date and sign thedeclaration. Thank you.REST IN PEACE, PEACHIEIt’s so hard to say goodbye to someone as special as youwere. I know when I first came to Muncy in 1990, youwere one of the three people I met and I loved you fromthat day on. You gave me the best advice of my life. Myheart is so broken, but I know you’re in a better place,looking down on all the ones you loved. I’m just glad I gotto spend 22 years with you and to know and love you. I’llalways carry your love with me. So, I won’t say, “Good-bye,” I’ll say, “See you later.”Telfa K. WillsOR-1389, SCI MuncyPEACHIEMy Pitbull, my fighter, my strength. Pitbull, I miss youso much that it hurts. I am so angry because it was toosoon. I can still hear your voice saying, “What are you upto now?”I remember so much; seeing you walk around carryingyour cup, sharing your wisdom at the card table, or justsitting and talking with the girls.I remember when I first called you Pitbull, you camecharging at my door! I miss you so much, but I’ve come torealize that you are in a better place, looking down on us,smiling. Save a place for us because well see you real soon.You will always be my “Fiddler from Roots.” You’re freenow! Love you.Keosha KingOQ-0433, SCI-MuncyRESPONSE TO “JUSTICE REINVESTMENT DIF-FICULT TO ACHIEVE WHILE ENDORSING SOLI-TARY CONFINEMENT” BY WILLIAM M. DI-MASCIO, “GRATERFRIENDS” OCTOBER 2012At this present moment I have been in isolation(solitary confinement) for six years, seven months. I amidentified as a mental inmate with the PennsylvaniaDOC. But, I sit in solitary confinement without treat-ment. Why? Because the RHU throughout the DOCdoesn’t afford a person confined in such units with anopportunity to partake in rehabilitative measures. Isola-tion is not designed to rehabilitate. Its sole purpose is tocontrol an inmate’s behaviors. Rehabilitation does notcontrol an inmate; it is utilized as a method to teach theinmate proper coping skills and/or alleviate the inmatefrom the pain and distress associated with the symptomsof his or her mental illness.Mr. DiMascio is 100 percent correct; justice reinvest-ment is difficult to achieve. You waste money housingpeople in isolation and you also destroy the lives of thoseconfined in such places both physically and psychologi-cally. Once released from prison, those that have sufferedwill be at risk of committing more criminal offenses be-cause they do not possess the true ability to function insociety. Solitary confinement is a big problem for humanbeings. People are sent to prison to serve time for allegedcrimes committed, not to be psychologically tortured. Asystem cannot endorse a unit that psychologically tor-tures prisoners, while at the same time supporting jus-tice reinvestment. I agree with Mr. DiMascio: the issue ofsolitary confinement needs to be addressed.Christopher BalmerGX-5754, SCI GreeneRE: FACILITIES CLOSINGIn the March issue, an inmate questioned why Greens-burg and Cresson were being closed and not old prisonssuch as Huntingdon. Make no mistake, politics and budgetsrule, while common sense, right and wrong, no longer havea place in the world of corrections. Staff believes we arehere for them and fail to see that they provide a service.These two closings are being made, in part, becausepopulations from both will fit into the new SCI Benner. Ibelieve both were also selected because they had thehighest cost per inmate of all the SCIs in the state. Thatis probably the reason very few Greensburg staff are go-ing to Benner.If the Feds were still pumping money into this state, asthey once did, prisons would still be going up and nonewould be closing. They have taken from the inmatesabout as much as they can: programs, education, workhours, even envelopes. Now they are forced to pull a fewof their own teeth.Huntingdon won’t be closed as it, Smithfield, and afactory are responsible for the city’s growth and prosperi-ty. Heads would roll should that prison ever be closed.Politicians would be voted out.Greensburg’s staff is praying that a number ofWalmarts and fast food restaurants go up in this area inthe near future. The skill set of DOC employees is great-Mailroom, continued from page 9
  13. 13. Graterfriends ― A Publication of The Pennsylvania Prison Society ― May 2013The opinions expressed are of the authors and not necessarily those of Graterfriends or The Pennsylvania Prison Society.11The Prison Society’s Annual BusinessMeeting will be on Tuesday, June 4, 5:00 p.m., at theArden Theatre: 40 North 2nd Street, Philadelphia, PA ,19106. The agenda includes the election of new officersand the Board of Directors.The Life Support for Women with anIncarcerated Loved One support grouphas been suspended until further notice.Fight For Lifers West InPittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has meetings everythird Saturday at Crossroads U.M. Church, located at325 N. Highland Ave. in the E. Liberty section of Pitts-burgh, 15206 (across from Home Depot) at 10:00 a.m.until 12:00 noon. Contact FFLW at 412-361-3022 (leave amessage) or at fightforliferswest@yahoo.com for moreinformation. We really need lifers’ families and friends toget involved. Our lifers need us more than EVER!AnnouncementsJoin us for a BenefitCelebration of 226Years of ServiceTicketed receptionJune 4, 20136:00 p.m. — 8:30 p.m.Arden Theatre40 North 2nd StreetPhiladelphia, PA 19106Includes a presentation of the JusticeAward to the Honorable M. TeresaSarmina, Judge in the PhiladelphiaCourt of Common PleasTickets may be purchased online atwww.prisonsociety.org or by calling ouroffice at 215-564-6005, ext. 106.ly limited. Maybe the DOC can continue trade programsand allow their staff to attend.Years ago when our coal and steel industries began todecline, Pennsylvania governors, both Democrat and Re-publican, realized that building prisons would provideemployment for those who lost their jobs. To fill them,sentences were stiffened, judges sent more convicted tostate prisons for minor offences, and even our paroleboard made decisions based on prison populations.Initially, prison staff consisted of unemployed steelworkers and coalminers. They were hard working and, inmost cases, gave respect when given it. Now we deal withtheir lazy, unprofessional, and unethical children. I feelno compassion for prison staff at Greensburg or Cresson.Jeffry M. AuveGF-2874, SCI GreensburgBatts, continued from page 2The majority opinion from the Pennsylvania SupremeCourt in the Batts case reads, in part:[A]t a minimum it should consider a juveniles age atthe time of the offense, his diminished culpability andcapacity for change, the circumstances of the crime,the extent of his participation in the crime, his family,home and neighborhood environment, his emotionalmaturity and development, the extent that familialand/or peer pressure may have affected him, his pastexposure to violence, his drug and alcohol history, hisability to deal with the police, his capacity to assist hisattorney, his mental health history, and his potentialfor rehabilitation.While the ruling in this case is promising for juvenilelifers, we must wait to see the result of the other juvenilelifer case currently before the Pennsylvania SupremeCourt: Commonwealth v. Cunningham. There are differ-ences in these cases, and the two must be taken togetherto determine if the Miller decision will be retroactive forthe nearly 500 juvenile lifers in Pennsylvania. The Battsdecision applies only to juveniles convicted before theMiller ruling and whose cases were on direct appeal atthe time of that ruling (June 25, 2012).According to Bradley Bridge, Esq., of the PhiladelphiaDefender Association, “In determining the minimumsentence, the trial court must consider the juveniles in-dividual characteristics, culpability, and potential forrehabilitation…While Batts was a first degree murdercase, we expect that the same rules will apply to juve-niles convicted of second degree murder.” Emily Keller,staff attorney for the Juvenile Law Center, says, “We arestill waiting for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to is-sue their decision in Cunningham. The Cunninghamcase raises the question of whether Miller applies retro-actively to juvenile lifers seeking post-conviction relief.”
  14. 14. Graterfriends ― A Publication of The Pennsylvania Prison Society ― May 201312The opinions expressed are of the authors and not necessarily those of Graterfriends or The Pennsylvania Prison Society.LiteraryCornerMY SISTER, MY FRIENDby Rose Dinkins, OO-4613, SCI MuncyA portrait was drawn of PeachieHolding up large tablets, whenI saw it, I imagined her holding upUs (lifers) on her shouldersShe was a visionary and her intelligencewas beyond compare. A tower of strength,Always tirelessly fighting for ourFreedom and our belief of a better tomorrow“I got you” she’d sayI know I will never, ever understand why she was takenaway so soon especially when her freedom was only atouch awayKhalil Gibran said, “When you part from your friend,you grieve not; For that which you love most in him maybe clearer in his absence.”Not Peachie. She left it all on the table,I love you and miss you terribly.SHARIN’ MY PAINby Terri Harper, OB-7637, SCI MuncyHow do you handle the sorrow...When once again, for someone you Love AND Admire,there is no tomorrow?Your inclination, no matter how wrong, is to ask “Why?”And I’m trying...To hold tight and not give in to the terrible sadness I feelinside.It was just yesterday she asked me to do her a favor butdidn’t have time to explainI just knew a note would follow the request, but it wasall in vain.For God had a Plan, and Only He knew BestWhat was a hope, a dream, a wish for the rest.Now those left to mourn have but memories...Some in abundance... some powerful, but few.The majority of mine were formed over bread, wings, andcookies... a Battle or two.She embodied intelligence, a quotient unmatched here,And despite the path realized and the seemingly longroad ahead, death wasn’t spoken fear.She chose to live each day, giving, supporting, and edu-cating any who’d let her gift in.Being Bleesed to be a part of her inner circle was assweet as sin.A Mentor, A Friend, a Confidante...A Daughter, A Sister, A Surrogate, An Aunt...Loyal, Honest, Funny, Ready, Deserving...Time on this earth ran out for her, and thats unnerving.But from this Great Loss of one who truly impacted justabout half of my lifeI Will NOT give up the Fight!!Dear God, I beseech Thee,Please grant Heaven to our dear departed Peachie.REQUIEM FOR PEACHIE:DEDICATED TO SHARON WIGGINS (1951-2013)by Diane Metzger, OO-5634, SCI MuncyIt was an early Monday morning,When I heard the awful news.The Universe made its decision;You weren’t given permission to choose.You’d been waiting and fervently hoping,Doing life for near forty-five years.We’d had so many deep conversationsAbout hope and our pain and our fears.How we’d both been just barely past childhoodWhen we came to this soul-killing place,Not knowing how we’d ever do it,Or the terrible horrors we’d face.And, despite the innumerable missteps,How we stumbled yet grew on the way,We still faced each challenge with courage,Winning victories that stand to this day.And we lifer kids grew up together,Sisters not in our blood but our souls.As a sisterhood we became champions,Not lone, for together we’re whole.And when the news came of your passing,My reaction was staggering grief.When it came down to freedom and home’s loving arms,That’s the way we thought you’d leave.Now I sit here in anger, bereft and afraid,And I silently scream to the sky,Why can’t there be mercy and justice?Why won’t somebody just tell me why?No, this isn’t your everyday requiem,Full of platitudes with every breath.It’s a poem of tribute, and questions that ask,What was solved by your untimely death?So I swear to you, Peachie, with all that I am,That your precious life wasn’t in vain.We’ll continue to fight, with freedom our goal,And all change will be made in your name.I don’t know what happens when we leave this Earth,But I hope that you’re resting in peace.We will all carry on, with your face in our hearts,And our love for you will never cease.
  15. 15. Graterfriends ― A Publication of The Pennsylvania Prison Society ― May 2013The opinions expressed are of the authors and not necessarily those of Graterfriends or The Pennsylvania Prison Society.13We have been receiving letters from prison-ers who are asking about a new law thatstates they will automatically be releasedupon reaching their minimums. However,there is no such law on the books. We askedDOC Press Secretary Susan McNaughtonabout this issue, and below is the responsewe received:“There is no new law or any plans to releaseall inmates upon their minimum dates.Inmates are eligible, upon reaching theirminimum sentences, to begin seeking parolefrom the Pennsylvania Board of Probationand Parole.As a result of work by the DOC and PBPP toimprove internal processes, it is likely moreoffenders than in the past – provided theyhave completed all prescribed programming,etc., and providing that the PBPP grantsthem parole — could be paroled closer totheir minimums rather than many, manymonths past their minimum dates.Simply reaching their minimums is not aguarantee of parole.”do to make them give us access to tax forms and allow usto file our own tax refunds for the consumer goods wepay taxes on?Tax codes mandate that taxpayers file yearly taxes.Furthermore, no act was ever passed by Congress or is inthe tax code that prohibits inmates from possessing taxforms. Not only did SCI Forest violate due process whenthey confiscated several inmates’ tax forms sent via firstclass mail, but they have also violated the tax laws andare bankrupting the United States. Filing taxes helpscreate revenue, which the tax laws enforce and encour-age. Revenue helps create new money. Since we are pur-chasers of consumer goods we are, in fact, taxpayers.Is there anyone out there who is willing to assist me oroffer any advice to fight for my, as well as fellow in-mates’, rights? Please notify me immediately:Charles PaladinoHS-0937, SCI ForestPO Box 945Marienville, PA 16239-0945.Also if anyone has reliable information as to an attor-ney or tax consultant who will assist in this matter, itwould be (an understatement) greatly appreciated.Charles PaladinoHS-0937, SCI ForestNEVER ENOUGHby Grace Hughes, OP-4656, SCIDedicated to my mother, who passed away on November 2, 2011Sometimes I know the words to say,Give thanks for all you’ve done,But when they fly up and away,As quickly as they come.How could I possibly thank you enough, now that youhave passed away?The one who made me whole,The one to whom I owed my life.The forming of my soul.The one who tucked me in at night…The one who stopped my crying.The one who was the expert,At picking me up when I fell short.The one who saw me off to school,And spent sad days alone,Yet magically produced a smile,As soon as I came home.The one who made such sacrifices,To always put me first.Who let me test my broken wings,In spite of how it hurts.Who painted the world a rainbow when it was filledwith broken dreams and promises.Who explained it all so clearlyWhen nothing’s what it seems.Are there really any words for this?I find this question tough…Anything I wanted to say just didn’t seem enough.What way was there to thank you,For your heart, your sweat, and tears?For the ten thousand thingsYou did for me for oh so many years.For changing with me as I changed, accepting all my flaws.Not loving me because you had to but loving just be-cause,For never giving up on me when your wits had reachedtheir end.For always being proud of me, for being my mother eventhough I didn’t deserve you.And so I came to realize the only way to say, the onlythank you that’s enough is clear in just one way.Look at me before you, see what I’ve become?Do you see yourself in me?The job that you have done.All my hopes and all my dreams came to an end the dayyou passed away.My strengths nobody will ever see because the day youpassed all of me went with you!Love,Your daughter, GraceLegal Chat, continued from page 5
  16. 16. Graterfriends ― A Publication of The Pennsylvania Prison Society ― May 201314The opinions expressed are of the authors and not necessarily those of Graterfriends or The Pennsylvania Prison Society.NEW SUBSCRIBERS: Please allow 6-8 weeks for receipt of your first issue.Make a check or money order payable toThe Pennsylvania Prison Society245 North Broad Street, Suite 300Philadelphia, PA 19107Prisoners may pay with unused postage stamps.Name_________________________________________ Prisoner Number ______________ Institution _________________________________Address ______________________________________________City_______________________________ State _______ Zip ________________Payment Amount _____________________________________ Payment Method_____________________________________________________SSSUBSCRIPTIONUBSCRIPTIONUBSCRIPTION IIINFORMATIONNFORMATIONNFORMATIONReceive Graterfriends and Correctional Forum for:Are you a prisoner who just wants Graterfriends? You maysubscribe just to Graterfriends for $3.Support our mission and become a member!$5 Prisoner$10 Prisoner FamilyStudent$40 Regular Membership$100 Friend of the Society$200 Patron$250 Sponsor$500 Founder$1,000 1787 SocietyMay BirthdaysDEATH ROWIf you do not want your name published, send a letter toGraterfriends each year you do not want it to be included.Be sure to note your date of birth.Incarcerated Parent, continued from page 3MOVING?Are you being transferred fromSCI Cresson or SCI Greensburg to anotherprison? Please inform the Prison Societyso that we can change your address in ourdatabase. We don’t want you to miss anyissues of Graterfriends. Please write to theaddress on the bottom of page two.Thank you.longer the little girl he knew; those six months forced meto grow up in a way neither of us were prepared to han-dle. Pop and I had a rocky relationship. Upon his release,I put all of that aside and made an effort to have a solidfather-daughter relationship. I still harbored anger andresentment toward him, but I figured we would deal withthat issue together at a later time, when he was soberand our relationship stronger. We never got that chance;on May 24, 2009, my father died of a heroin overdose.Because I never got to tell Pop how I really felt, I stillcarry a lot of anger toward him. I still look for an apologythat I know will never come. I NEEDED my father toapologize for going to jail. I NEEDED him to apologizefor missing my high school graduation. I wanted him toacknowledge that his actions negatively impacted MYlife, AND I WANTED HIM TO APOLOGIZE!As I get older, I realize Pop was too high to recognizethe impact he was having. I’m beginning to accept this.Acceptance is helping me heal and grow. Part of ac-ceptance is just talking about how I feel, and being OKwith whatever emotion comes out. Pop lived by the mot-to, “One day at a time.” I’ve begun to embody that, andwhile I will probably never fully heal, I’ve begun not todread but accept it, one day at a time.Michael BardoCP-9596, GRNRichard S. BaumhammersET-8465, GRNStephen EdmistonBC-7886, GRNLeroy FearsCQ-7760, GRNChristopher L. JohnsonKT-5466, GRNHarve JohnsonJG-7444, GRNNoel MontalvoFH-9391, GRNAlbert PerezJB-2916, GRAWilliam RiveraDN-4295, GRAManuel M. SepulvedaFH-1368, GRNRaymond SolanoFK-6135, GRNAndre StatonGR-3024, GRNPatrick Jason StollarHM-3365, GRNWilliam Wright, IIIDV-2181, GRAGRA = SCI GraterfordPO Box 244Graterford, PA19426-0244GRN = SCI Greene175 Progress DriveWaynesburg, PA15370-8090
  17. 17. Graterfriends ― A Publication of The Pennsylvania Prison Society ― May 2013The opinions expressed are of the authors and not necessarily those of Graterfriends or The Pennsylvania Prison Society.15Innocent Women, continued from page 4 Pennsylvania, continued from page 16On direct appeal, both the trial judge and superiorcourt agreed that this evidence should be suppressed.Their reason? The prosecutor never had an opportunityto do any re-direct examination. The U.S. SupremeCourt requires that a direct and cross examination bedone. I am not aware of any law that requires re-director re-cross examination to be done. It was the prosecu-tor’s witness who “double-crossed” their fabricated caseagainst me. Now both courts had to step in and save theprosecutor’s failing case. I had the right to present allexculpatory evidence that would have been favorable.Also, I can’t find any rule stating that if prosecutors failto investigate cases that the courts can come in andsave them from their own incompetence.Not allowing me to present evidence that would havehelped my alibi is a miscarriage of justice by bothcourts. The prosecutor had ample opportunity to developtestimony through various interviews and grand jurytestimony. Yet, this was not the end of the misconductby the prosecution: they used perjured testimony, andthey buried what didn’t fit into their theory. Questions?How far will the prosecutors go to win a case? There isno limit.Everyone wants to believe that our judicial system ishonest as the day is long and that everyone they convictis guilty. But, the reality is that they will and do go af-ter innocent people. The jury believes that the prosecu-tor wouldn’t be putting anyone in front of them unlessthey were guilty. The public needs to take off their rose-colored glasses.I never believed this could happen to me. When ourcourts protect prosecutors’ misconducts, where doessomeone get help? We need stricter regulations on howthe prosecutors do their jobs. Prosecutors know thereare no repercussions when they go after an innocentperson. However, the people they target suffer conse-quences that can often not be undone. So, there is noth-ing for prosecutors to lose, when they are sure theywon’t be punished for convicting an innocent person.Why should they stop or even change their ways?I am seeking any guidance you can offer.2,300 prisoners who had been approved for parole werestill being incarcerated at a cost of some $77 million.Most of these were sex offenders — the deadly third railof the prison population, the category no one wants tochampion even though as a group they have one of thelowest rates of reoffending of all.Also included, however, were those who were unable topay the mandated $60 into the Crime Victims Compensa-tion Fund. An indigent prisoner who can’t pay this feecosts the state more than $80 for every day he or she iskept in custody beyond their scheduled release date. Thisis not to suggest that victims don’t deserve financial as-sistance. It is to question if the motive in establishingthis absurdly uneconomical payment scheme had more todo with adding another layer of punishment on top ofincarceration than it did with helping victims or the restof the citizenry.There is much talk in corrections these days about evi-dence-based strategies. Short minimums, delayed releas-es of sex offenders, mandatory life sentences for felonyhomicide convictions and other systemic Keystone Stateoddities cluster in a much larger frame — one thatshould be viewed in the context of social good, not venge-ance, personal ambition or superciliousness.The most recent evidence for this was released by theDepartment of Corrections in its Recidivism Report 2013.It opens with this statement:“The report presents a mixed picture of recidivismrates in Pennsylvania. While on the one hand rein-carceration rates are going down, rearrest rates havebeen flat or slightly rising. For the most part, recidi-vism rates have remained virtually unchanged overat least the past decade in Pennsylvania.”The bottom line is that overall recidivism is 61 percentafter three years. In other words three out of every fiveprisoners who get released wind up back in custody with-in 36 months.All of the tweaky reforms put in place in recent yearshaven’t done much to improve public safety largely be-cause they get watered down or defeated by a politicallymuscular but short sighted coalition of prosecutors andvictim advocates.The prison experience more often than not fosters an-ger, frustration and resentment, and when combinedwith an implacable public that’s a recipe that often leadsto failed reentry.The current administration is putting considerablefaith in Justice Reinvestment; perhaps that will lead tosuccess. Clearly something new needs to happen if Penn-sylvania is ever to raise itself up to the leadership ranksin corrections. Perhaps it is time to try strategies thatemphasize values and positive life skills instead of heap-ing one punitive measure on top of another.BookcaseEntrapment in Blood by Joseph Rodriguez, featured inthe January Graterfriends Bookcase section — is nowfree. Mr. Rodriguez says he wants to get the truth outand is not in it for money. His book is available as an e-book through Amazon.com.
  18. 18. Graterfriends ― A Publication of The Pennsylvania Prison Society ― May 201316The opinions expressed are of the authors and not necessarily those of Graterfriends or The Pennsylvania Prison Society.THE LAST WORDOnce the Leader in Progressive Thinking,Pennsylvania Has Fallen Behindby William M. DiMascioExecutive Director, The Pennsylvania Prison SocietyFirst Class postage is required to re-mail245 North Broad StreetSuite 300Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19107May 2013(see Pennsylvania, continued on page 15)NON-PROFITORGANIZATIONU.S. POSTAGE PAIDCLAYSBURG, PAPERMIT NO. 84It is difficult to believe these days that Pennsylva-nia once was the leader in progressive correctionalthinking. Here it was that the dungeons and whip-ping posts of yore gave way to more enlightened andhumane ways. Here is where the power of penitenceand redemption were stitched into the fabric of anemerging American penitentiary system.Oh, my, what the years have wrought!Now gasping like the last pack of runners in a mar-athon, Pennsylvania has relegated itself among theslowest states to adopt effective reform.A recent New York Times editorial lumped Pennsyl-vania with Arizona, Arkansas and West Virginia aspart of a minority of states that “keep sending morepeople to prison than need to be there.”At the same time, the paper noted that 29 stateshad adopted reforms that significantly lowered theirprison population and saved huge sums of taxpayerfunds. Even Texas, the iconic law and order state,avoided spending some $2 billion in new prisonspending by investing in alternatives to incarcerationsuch as drug treatment and community supervision.Community-based alternative sanctions have beendiscussed for 20 years or more in Pennsylvania. But theyhave been slow to gain traction for several reasons: theyfailed to be punitive enough to satisfy some, and theyimposed unreimbursed financial burdens on local juris-dictions which were inclined to shed expenses by sendingtheir prisoners to the state.In working recently on the ballyhooed Justice Rein-vestment plan for Pennsylvania, the Council of StateGovernments noted that the Commonwealth is one ofonly nine states that send misdemeanants to state pris-ons. The council recommended that the state fund coun-ties that develop diversion programs much the same aswas recommended decades ago. Another suggestion wasbased on keeping prisoners with less than one year toserve (short minimums) out of the state prisons wherethey are often serving 200 or more days beyond theirminimum to complete programs; this alone could savethe state $100 million in addition to reducing the overallpopulation.Another practice that adds to the waste, according tothe report that came out early in 2012, is that more than

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