Pathway to freedom proposal by Bridges and Rogers

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To:  Interested Parties

By:  Roy Rogers 1273696 & Andrae L. Bridges #248420

Re: Redemptive Re-Entry Program (Revised 12/09)

I. INTRODUCTION

This is a proposal for a program entitled Redemptive Re-Entry for juvenile offenders who were waived into adult court between the years 1988-1999, were charged with and convicted of Class A felonies, sentenced to a term of life in prison, with or without parole, and have served a substantial amount of time thus far, ten (10) years or more.

The purpose of this program is twofold as it was initially intended to facilitate the re-entry of offenders who committed crimes as juveniles back into the community. However, the lengthy sentences of said offenders remove any and in some cases, all chances of them ever re-entering the community. Therefore, we have decided that the first and most important purpose of this program is and should be to shorten the lengthy sentences of said juvenile offenders. Which would then give them a realistic opportunity to work towards re-entering the community. It should be noted that this program is aimed at shortening long juvenile sentences ONLY in cases where the offender has shown significant rehabilitation.

II. PROGRAM TARGETS

This program has been designed to target offenders like the authors of this proposal who:

A. Were waived into adult court between the years 1988-1999.

B. Were charged with and convicted of a Class A felony.

C.  Were sentenced to a term of life in prison, with or without the possibility of parole. (In 1992 Andrae L. Bridges was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole until the year 2037. In 1993 Roy Rogers was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole until the year 2020.)

D. Entered an adult correctional institution as a child.

E. Grew up and matured in prison.

F. Have served ten (10) years or more.

G. Have received their HSED/GED’s while incarcerated.

H. Have learned a vocational trade while incarcerated.

I. Have completed both mandatory and non-mandatory programs like AODA, CGIP, Anger Management, Responsible Thinking, etc.

J. Have invested a substantial amount of time in juvenile crime

prevention programs which target at-risk youth/ etc.

K. Have invested a substantial amount of time in/with Victim Awareness, Community Service, and Restorative Justice projects, etc.

L. Have demonstrated positive change through consistent and positive institution adjustment.

M. Have maintained prison employment with good evaluations from employers throughout.

N. Have received tutor certification from Literary Volunteers of America.

O. Who have not only used their time wisely but have matured mentally, emotionally, and spiritually and now truly understand the err in their thinking, and past violent and self-destructive ways.

P. Have taken an active role in bettering their lives by fully cooperating with the rehabilitation process and have thereby allowed their time served thus far to work for them as opposed to against them.

And this program will also target offenders who/ under the normal structure of their sentence will:

A. Never get out of prison. •

B. Eventually get out but at an age where they will be unable to gain and maintain meaningful employment, be independent and self-sufficient, and effect change within the community.

C. Only be released by discretionary action of the parole commission.

III. PROGRAM OBJECTIVES

This program will serve the objectives of:

A. Bringing real meaning to the term Earned Release by giving offenders who committed crimes as juveniles the opportunity to have their sentences reduced as a result of demonstrating their rehabilitative efforts. Thereby proving that one time juvenile offenders such as the authors of this proposal can be rehabilitated without having to spend the majority of their life in prison.

B. Giving one time juvenile offenders the opportunity to;

1.  Be valuable assets to the community.

2. Live out the rest of their life as productive and constructive members of society.          –

3.  Use the skills they’ve learned to prevent others from making the same mistakes as they once did; namely at-risk youth.

C. Easing overcrowding in the Wisconsin Department of Corrections and the cost of incarceration.

D. Affirming the Restorative Justice philosophy by connecting the

offender with the community by which they can begin to earn the community’s trust through community service projects of all kinds.

E.Supporting the idealism of Juvenile Justice Reform and the fact that the person you are at the age of fifteen (15) or sixteen (16) is not the person you are at the age twenty-five (25)/ thirty (30), or thirty-five (35) so why must one continue to be punished as such? Hence, if only I knew then what I know now! An excerpt from an article entitled Juvenile Injustice? by Jacquelin Sutton in the Isthmus dated March 7/ 2008 reads as follows:

What the public thinks

A national survey revealed the following attitudes toward juvenile justice reform:

.89% of those surveyed agreed that “almost all youth who commit crimes have the potential to change,” and more than seven out of 10 agreed that “incarcerating youth offenders without rehabilitation is the same as giving up on them.”

. The public supports providing counseling, education and job training programs to youth offenders. Eight out of 10 favor relocating state government money from incarceration to programs that seek to help young people become productive citizens.

. Treatment and services are widely seen as more effective than locking people up. Less than 15% of those surveyed thought incarceration was a “very effective” way to rehabilitate youth.

. More than three-quarters of the public favors keeping non-violent youth in small facilities in their own communities; six in 10 favor community supervision for nonviolent youth.

. The public believes the juvenile justice system treats low-income/ African American and Hispanic youth unfairly. Almost two-thirds of respondents said poor youth receive worse treatment than middle-class youth who get arrested for the same offense.

SOURCE: THE MACARTHUR FOUNDATION “THE POTENTIAL FOR CHANGE: PUBLIC ATTITUDES AND POLICY REFERENCES FOR JUVENILE JUSTICE SYSTEMS REFORM.”

IV. GENERAL PROGRAM DESCRIPTIONS

Although the Redemptive Re-Entry Program can be formatted in many different ways, we have come up with three. These three range from the very simple, void any further programming or group participation; to the very

Complex, which will consist of an assortment of groups and programs. Upon completing one of the three programs described here, the offender will receive a Special Sentence Modification.

A. Special Sentence Modification – A Special Sentence Modification will be just that. Given the fact that this program pertains to one time juvenile offenders who were sentenced to life with either no parole or no parole until the offender has reached an old age, the Special Sentence Modification will change that. In other words, the offender who once had life without parole would receive a reasonable parole date. While the offender who once had life without parole until he has reached an old age will receive a parole date for well before he reaches an old age. ONLY- in cases where the offender has shown significant rehabilitation. These modifications are to be determined by the RRPRC (See: Section V) and other governing bodies. Taking into consideration all relevant factors such as:

1. Offense

2. Sentence

3. Time served

4. Program completion

5. Institution adjustment, etc.

6. Initial A & E program recommendations

7. Pre-Sentence Investigation report

8. Other

Upon receiving a Special Sentence Modification one of the following custody reductions should be granted so the offender might go on to work towards receiving a Special Parole Grant:

1.  Minimum Security/Work Release

2. Halfway House/Work Release

B. Special Parole Grant – One automatically becomes eligible to receive a Special Parole Grant after receiving a Special Sentence Modification simply because with a favorable sentence modification, release should become attainable, thus inevitable. However, while in minimum security and/or on work release one will have to work towards actually receiving the Special Parole Grant. Such work should consist of further programming prescribed by the RRPRC. Perhaps programming similar to the current pre-release curriculum will be sufficient. A Special Parole Grant will simply allow the offender to be released on parole after being reviewed by the parole board; not to be mistaken with the RRPRC.

C. First Program Format – The first and simplest program format for the Redemptive Re-Entry Program does not consist of any further program requirements as the selected participants will have already completed all of their required program needs and some. This does not, however, include pre-release programs. Therefore, the RRPRC will go on to determine whether or not he should receive a Special

Sentence Modification. With that, everything listed under section IV:A & B. This simple review can be conducted at any facility.

D. Second Program Format – The second format is a group type similar to that of CGIP Phases I and II, Anger Management/ or Restorative Justice which can be conducted at any facility. The length of this particular program format would be 4-6 months. The subject matters and overall time frame could change depending upon the needs of the participants. For example, the RRPRC might want to see an individual complete Restorative Justice and re-take Anger Management before determining whether or not he should receive a Special Sentence Modification. In the event of an individual being required to take a specific program(s), it is expected that he will be sent to the facility that offers said program(s). Successful completion results in a Special Sentence Modification and everything listed under section IV:A & B.

E. Third Program Format – The third and final format considered for the Redemptive Re-Entry Program is the lengthiest and most intense when compared to the First and Second Program Formats. Format three is one that should be a unit based program that further motivates participants to minimize their risk of offending by challenging and changing the beliefs and thoughts that support their criminal behaviors and allow them to continue learning, developing, and practicing new skills in order to live a more pro-social life.

The unit should be designed to provide an environment within a medium-security institution to support the delivery of CGIP Phases I-IV, Vocational Training, Tutor Training, Restorative Justice, and other treatment programs. The unit should exist as an alternative community within the institution that helps to isolate the offenders from the anti-social prison subculture. The unit should also encourage involvement in pro-social activities such as support groups and community service. Program length should be 18-36 months. Upon successfully completing the programs on the unit the offender should be granted a Special Sentence Modification and everything listed under section IV:A & B.

Y. REDEMPTIVE RE-ENTRY PROGRAM REVIEW COMMITTEE (RRPRC)

The Redemptive Re-Entry Program Review Committee (RRPRC) should be made up of a group of prison administrators similar to the already established Program Review Committee, with the exception of a judge and/or parole agent being available as sentence modifications and parole grants are at stake. Note; the RRPRC is not to be mistaken with the parole board as it is not the goal of this program to take over the general role of the parole commission. The RRPRC should and must be created to:

A.  Investigate and collect data on the offenders who were waived into adult court between the years 1988-1999, convicted of Class A felonies/ and sentenced to life/ with or without parole.

B. Select the appropriate programs Redemptive Re-Entry Program participants will be required to take and successfully complete, if any/ as many of us have already received our HSED/GED’s/ Vocational Training/ and other programs such as CGIP,  Tutor Training, Restorative Justice, etc. (See: Institution Resumes)

C. Develop a criteria of eligibility for this program; accepting input from prison staff, offenders, law officials, and the community as a whole. This criteria should take offense, sentence, time served, program completion, institution adjustment, etc. into consideration.

D. Review and recommend suitable participants for the Redemptive Re-Entry Program.

E. Determine whether or not a Redemptive Re-Entry Program participant should receive a Special Sentence Modification.

F. Determine what that modification should be.

VI. CONCLUSION

In light of the ever growing WDOC population, budget woes, and the changing roles of the parole commission, the creation of such a program would help alleviate some of the problems. As well as provide programming for a group of offenders that have continuously been overlooked in the development of new programs that tend to target everyone except the type of offenders this program targets. Which means this program will give the WDOC a viable option of WHO to release and HOW to release them. As well as acknowledge that children who committed horrible crimes are not beyond redemption, contrary to what was once popular belief.

The underlying notion of the Redemptive Re-Entry Program is that children who committed horrible crimes should have received stiff sentences. However, when those sentences were handed down judges failed to consider the fact that children can be rehabilitated. And that they can grow to be productive members of society and it doesn’t take a lifetime to do so; which many were sentenced to.

“The court explained that juveniles were less culpable because inexperience, less education, and less intelligence make [a juvenile less able to evaluate the consequences of his or her conduct while at the same time he or she is much more apt to be motivated by mere emotion or peer pressure than is an adult. The reasons why juveniles are not ‘trusted with privileges and responsibilities of an adult also explain why their irresponsible conduct is not morally reprehensible as that of an adult.” 2007 Wis. L. Rev. 729 (pq. 4)

Finally, the Redemptive Re-Entry Program has been revised to bring attention to a specific group of individuals and to better coincide with the efforts of today’s juvenile justice, earned release programs, and the latest efforts of Wisconsin 2009 Act 28. By supporting the Redemptive Re-Entry Program or programs similar to it, the WDOC and justice system as a whole can begin to restore the lives once deemed lost. NOTHING here has been stated for the purpose of excusing or minimizing ones violent and self-destructive childhood behaviors. In fact, that goes against everything this program stands for as it is vital that one take full responsibility for his actions; past/ present/ and future. This proposal is, however, a plea to establish a program which supports today’s efforts of Juvenile Justice Reform and grants second chances. For those who have proven worthy of such. This proposal is also a tentative draft that is subject to change and is open for suggestions, future re-writes, and endorsements until it is in a form that is viable; taking all relevant factors into consideration.

In the interest of Restorative Justice/

Roy Rogers #573696

Andrae L. Bridges #248420

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