TO: "ALL PRISONERS" (Esp. Those 18 to 24 Juvenile LWOP prisoners) RE: BOLD NEW IDEA (FOOTING THE BILL)!!!
By Knab Asafo
Greetings & Salutations
This (open letter) is a call of support for an "idea" that could potentially advance our efforts for relief against the unlawful exclusion of our (18 to 24 juvenile life) group from a series of favorable Bills and/or Rulings throughout the country regarding age distinction for "adolescent brain development." In an attempt not to write redundantly to the surface of this matter the following is a brief overview before getting to the point/idea.
OVER THE PAST DECADE OR SO...
(2006) ROPER V. SIMMONS, 543 U.S. 551, the Court ruled that juveniles cannot be sentenced to death, writing that the death penalty is a disproportionate punishment for the young; immaturity diminishes their culpability, as does their susceptibility to outside pressures and influence. Lastly, their heightened capacity for reform means that they are entitled to a separate set of punishments. The Court also held that the nation's "evolving standard of decency" showed the death penalty for juveniles to be cruel and unusual."
(2010) GRAHAM V. FLORIDA, 130 S.Ct., the Court banned the use of the death penalty for juveniles in Roper, the Court left the sentence of life without parole as the harshest sentence available for offenses committed by people under 18. In Graham v. Florida, the Court banned the use of life without parole for juveniles not convicted homicide. As in Roper, the Court pointed to the rare imposition of a particular punishment to prove that the punishment is unusual. In Graham and Roper, the Court also pointed to the overwhelming international consensus against the harshest punishments.
(2012) MILLER V. ALABAMA and JACKSON V. HOBBS, 123 S. Ct. 2455, the Court held that, for juveniles, mandatory life without parole sentence violated the Eighth Amendment. Writing for the majority, Justice Kagan emphasized that judges must be able to consider the characteristics of juvenile defendants in order to issue a fair and individualized sentence. Adolescence is marked by "transient rashness, proclivity for risk, an inability to assess consequences," all factors that should mitigate the punishment received by juvenile defendants.
(2016) MONTGOMERY V. LOUISIANA, 577 U.S._______, the Miller ruling
affected mandatory sentencing laws in 28 states and the federal government. States inconsistently interpreted Miller's retroactivity. Montgomery emphasized that use of life without parole (mandatory or not) should only be reserved for those juveniles whose offenses reflected "irreparable corruption."
So now we know that United States Supreme Court have "accepted adolescent brain science and banned the use of capital punishment for juveniles, limited life without parole sentences to homicide offenders, banned the use of mandatory life without parole, and applied the decision retroactively." It should also be noted that there are several House Bills and/or State Constitutions throughout the country that are favorably attached to the aforementioned Rulings, specifically but not limited to California; Delaware; Nebraska; Illinois; & even Pennsylvania as it relates to its State Constitution (Article 5 § Section 16 (q)(ii), Juvenile matters; "Children as a person under 18 years of age and Minors as 18 to 21 years of age." Although they have yet to include this 18 to 24 demographic, even if only up to the age of 21, as it clearly states should be the case according to its fundamental system of laws.
This [unlawful] exclusion from prevailing order(s) of relief regarding the matter have rightfully cause a great deal of unrest among, first & foremost those legally effected. However despite judicial challenge, as well as the legislative push by various outside forces, the matter seemly remains a distant repair. That is not to say that these efforts have been in vain, contrary to the pessimistic coward at heart, any & all acts of protest for life, liberty & equality is beneficial to the objective. But we must be absolutely clear by the standards of history that appropriate resolution for judicial, political and/or social imbalance have not been without coordinated confrontation. Thus it is imperative that those who are most effect understand that things like ORDER, UNITY, & SACRIFICE are absolutely necessary for relief in this regard.
The IDEA ("Footing The Bill"), is ambitious in its concept considering the systematically fostered (mental, physical, spiritual, social, political, economical etc.) division among the prisoners here in the bowels of Pennsylvania. Nevertheless, the proposal calls for an extreme act of unity from the men & woman specifically, but not limited to the 18 to 24 juvenile LWOP group. FOOTING THE BILL is an expression that can be interpreted to indicate a few different things, however essentially it suggests that we (on this side of the fence) have decided to collectively utilize our financial strength in order to fight against these laws that constitute "Death By Incarceration. When we come to fully understand the political process as it relates to legislation (especially here in America where capitalism is an overwhelming force of influence), its not difficult to then understand class manipulation. Again this is who & what America is, so instead of us being offended by the dominant life & liberty of the affluent, we should really be considering in good faith ways to utilize our own financial capabilities in an effort to try an avoid the inevitable...dying in prison.
I am apart of a group of prisoners (within the 18 to 24 LWOP demographic), that are calling for the assemblage of our very own financial "Super-Pack." This may sound a little far fetched to those who are not visionary in their thinking. But consider first the opportunities we would have, especially but not limited to the services of professional lobbyist to support and push Bills like HB135. As well the financial contributions that we could offer to those courageous (uncompensated) lawyers, activist, organizations, etc., that are on the front line of this fight... FOR OUR FREEDOM!
Also, if there is anybody reading this "call of support" that is not absolutely clear on the financial status of this particular group (& others within this system), you haven't done your homework. This subject has been discussed, reported & documented for years in the mainstream media, prison newsletters, think tanks, etc.. Those reports are unmistakably clear about the [manipulative] spending of prisoners which account for tens of millions of dollars each year going into this industrial complex. This means that there are several groups within the big picture (prison population) group here in Pennsylvania that are worth millions of dollars. So to you [captive] millionaires I say the time is now that we take a stand and join forces for the sake of a campaign that expresses how serious we are about changing our circumstances.
*NAME: "THE U GROUP" (the "U" is for, You; Us; Unlawfully Exuded; Unity; Unitary; Undivided; etc.)
OUTSIDE>>> T.U.G. <<<INSIDE
*GROUP WORKING ORDER: Will operate by way of a Board of Directors. *BOARD MEMBERS: Six to nine men and women that are already engulfed in these matters, so they will be lawyers, advocates, activists, community leaders, org. representatives, etc. These men and women would be chosen by “U” (the inside portion) of this group. *BOARD RESPONSIBILITIES: These will be discussed in detail among the men and women of this group, however, for now we will say; to move in the best interest of T.U.G.
*GROUP FUNCTION: These details will be expressed in a general memo to those who show interest in this idea.
In closing, to all the readers inside & out, please be advised that we have not solidified anything yet as far as the actual functioning part of this idea. We are looking first to hear from all of "U", be it questions, comments and/or suggestions, all will be a great deal of help in our efforts to build this vehicle that we so desperately need! However, in reference to a general thought attached to this situation, we all should be more than willing to redirect some of that manipulated spending, if for no other reason than to try and get a better return on our dollar. As it stands most of the money that we're signing over to the state year after year is being used against us...check into the "other" Inmate Welfare Fund. At the end of the day if you/we cannot bring ourselves to sacrifice and/or ask someone else to donate or sacrifice at least the amount of 20 soups ($5.60), or 1 Kite ($4.00) a month to help finance some of the work needed to aid the cause for YOUR own life & liberty, you should be ashamed of yourself.
YOUR CONCERN, YOUR VOICE AND YOUR SACRIFICE IS NECESSARY!
Robert Knab Furgess #BC-6308
SCI @ Green
175 Progress Dr.
Waynesburg, Pa. 15370