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Loving a Lifer For those whose loved one is serving a life sentence.

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Old 04-17-2020, 07:25 AM
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Default The Hardness Of Life Between Two Rivers

My older sibling reached milestone of sorts this past 12th day of April, when he got started on this life sentence he is now serving in California (17-LIFE) back in 1985 for 2nd degree murder. He’s assigned to the California Medical Facility in Vacaville.
His first time to prison was here Texas for accessory to aggravated robbery for something that took place in San Antonio back in the mid-1970s. He received a 5 year sentence and ended up at the Wynne Unit in Huntsville which is about 10 miles from the Trinity River. A lot people don’t know it, but many of the first prisons built here in Texas were intentionally situated near the Trinity River due its water resources and availability. In terms of when some of those units were built, that’s a time which goes back to the mid-1800s when you consider that the first prison (the Huntsville Unit, aka the Walls) came along about 1848.
He was in his early 20s that trip down and it was a hard time in anyone’s life to be imprisoned here in Texas. Building Tenders, turn keys, long days in the fields swinging a grubbing hoe (aggie), prison guards that actually had to meet physical requirements to be hired and a prison system that was nothing short of brutal were the norm. All that would change with time, but at that time prison was an experience that was beyond bad.
I was in high school during this time and can still remember how the 2+ years he did before getting out changed him in way that left deep scars/wounds. Like our father who’d been to prison here in Texas back in the mid-1940s, he rarely spoke of what went on. Still……in looking back on those years a long with the years I’ve spent in prison in Texas (18 years all total) I can see that some men leave prison less the men they were when they went there and some men leave there more like a beast than they do a human being who’s served time for a crime committed against society. I don’t know nor would I say which these descriptions applies, but the truth is for many of us who leave prison we’re perhaps a combination of both if we’re not careful and most of the time, we don’t know it or cannot see it.
Some 4 years after leaving that prison near the Trinity River in the Huntsville area of Texas, he would find his way to the Russian River in northern California to a place called Guerneville. It would be there that after what started out as a drug deal gone bad over 1/8 oz. of meth turned into a homicide committed against a federal witness and of which is yet to end in my older sibling’s life. He’ll be 67 in October and he’s been doing time off and on since he was a young man in his 20s. All total, he’s spent over 40 years of his life behind bars. He came for review for parole this past February and received yet another 3 year denial. He and I both were incarcerated when our parents died, but I’ve had the benefit of getting out (on more than one occasion) and most of all, I’m out here now. I’ll have 2 years to the good this coming July. As bad as I hate to say it, staying out of prison isn’t as easy for some of us as it is others, but when Nancy Reagan coined the phrase “Just say no to drugs” back in the early 1980s well……….she said a mouthful and…..I’m doing my part to keep that so. Sometimes, it’s hell, though.
For those of us that have loved ones who are lifers, time is something that we’re forced to acknowledge and accept on different terms than some who come to PTO. It’s not several months or a few years that any of us on either side of the razor wire is looking at in terms of how long the prison experience will endure. For some of us out here as well as those in there, it’s for a life time and nothing less than that.
He’s my older brother and while we’ve had our share of disagreements that have left us silent for time we’ve always come back to the place that brothers hold when it comes to a bond that all family should share. Sadly, many don’t that are family. Some of our worst enemies that we’ll ever meet are family members, but still……we try.
God bless all of you that have a loved one serving a life sentence. May the years that pass and the time that silently marches on and waits for no one be kind to us all
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Old 04-17-2020, 07:57 AM
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Mine has been in for almost 27 years and I'm only in his life for 5. I'm beyond grateful that he has had his family in his life throughout all those years. I even believe his grandma declines to die until he gets home, she's very old and they have a strong connection.
I have a good connection with his Mother and I think she appreciates my support.
He's a very lucky guy and I also believe that this solid base over all those years will make his homecoming much easier.
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Old 04-17-2020, 10:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Firebrand View Post
My older sibling reached milestone of sorts this past 12th day of April, when he got started on this life sentence he is now serving in California (17-LIFE) back in 1985 for 2nd degree murder. He’s assigned to the California Medical Facility in Vacaville.
His first time to prison was here Texas for accessory to aggravated robbery for something that took place in San Antonio back in the mid-1970s. He received a 5 year sentence and ended up at the Wynne Unit in Huntsville which is about 10 miles from the Trinity River. A lot people don’t know it, but many of the first prisons built here in Texas were intentionally situated near the Trinity River due its water resources and availability. In terms of when some of those units were built, that’s a time which goes back to the mid-1800s when you consider that the first prison (the Huntsville Unit, aka the Walls) came along about 1848.
He was in his early 20s that trip down and it was a hard time in anyone’s life to be imprisoned here in Texas. Building Tenders, turn keys, long days in the fields swinging a grubbing hoe (aggie), prison guards that actually had to meet physical requirements to be hired and a prison system that was nothing short of brutal were the norm. All that would change with time, but at that time prison was an experience that was beyond bad.
I was in high school during this time and can still remember how the 2+ years he did before getting out changed him in way that left deep scars/wounds. Like our father who’d been to prison here in Texas back in the mid-1940s, he rarely spoke of what went on. Still……in looking back on those years a long with the years I’ve spent in prison in Texas (18 years all total) I can see that some men leave prison less the men they were when they went there and some men leave there more like a beast than they do a human being who’s served time for a crime committed against society. I don’t know nor would I say which these descriptions applies, but the truth is for many of us who leave prison we’re perhaps a combination of both if we’re not careful and most of the time, we don’t know it or cannot see it.
Some 4 years after leaving that prison near the Trinity River in the Huntsville area of Texas, he would find his way to the Russian River in northern California to a place called Guerneville. It would be there that after what started out as a drug deal gone bad over 1/8 oz. of meth turned into a homicide committed against a federal witness and of which is yet to end in my older sibling’s life. He’ll be 67 in October and he’s been doing time off and on since he was a young man in his 20s. All total, he’s spent over 40 years of his life behind bars. He came for review for parole this past February and received yet another 3 year denial. He and I both were incarcerated when our parents died, but I’ve had the benefit of getting out (on more than one occasion) and most of all, I’m out here now. I’ll have 2 years to the good this coming July. As bad as I hate to say it, staying out of prison isn’t as easy for some of us as it is others, but when Nancy Reagan coined the phrase “Just say no to drugs” back in the early 1980s well……….she said a mouthful and…..I’m doing my part to keep that so. Sometimes, it’s hell, though.
For those of us that have loved ones who are lifers, time is something that we’re forced to acknowledge and accept on different terms than some who come to PTO. It’s not several months or a few years that any of us on either side of the razor wire is looking at in terms of how long the prison experience will endure. For some of us out here as well as those in there, it’s for a life time and nothing less than that.
He’s my older brother and while we’ve had our share of disagreements that have left us silent for time we’ve always come back to the place that brothers hold when it comes to a bond that all family should share. Sadly, many don’t that are family. Some of our worst enemies that we’ll ever meet are family members, but still……we try.
God bless all of you that have a loved one serving a life sentence. May the years that pass and the time that silently marches on and waits for no one be kind to us all
You need to write a book! Educating people is half the battle of getting reforms! There is much sadness in your words and much resolve. Thank you.
We are doing life too and it is fun to watch people celebrate here when their LO is due to be released, and it is also a little bittersweet because, unless political will changes, that day will never come. It takes a whole different mindset to develop a relationship and a sense of purpose with that reality. God Bless your brother and may he find people to walk with him on this dark journey. Everyone deserves to be loved and valued. Bless you also in your struggles. Stay strong and know that you have the ability to change the system for others. Your words are powerful!
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Old 04-19-2020, 07:23 AM
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Thank you both for the kind words. I've yet to get started on writing a book although I've said in the past that I'd like to. Putting it all together is a lot to consider it seems and so.....maybe in time, but not just yet.

My older brother's struggle (Vernon) is something that's covered many years in terms of a lifetime and while I can relate to some degree, he's been faced with a much more difficult set of circumstances from the very beginning of this sentence than I ever was in terms of the time factor and when exactly the end will come about. I fear that he will never get out. That's a considerably different attitude and belief compared to what many of us thought in the beginning back in 1985 when he first entered the prison system there in California.
Time itself means different things to different people, but when there is no hope of ever leaving prison whether it be due to parole or discharging a sentence....you have to learn to rely on something in terms of motivation and a sense of "what am I living for" that is beyond the norm.
Back in 1985, he thought he'd be out in 10-15 years and when that time passed, 20 years and when that passed, 30 years and now.....what, 40 years? I don't know? The offense he committed was anything, but humane. Still, it had to do with drugs and the person who was the victim was a drug dealer and so, why so long? Answer- the victim was a federal witness and as time reveals what the real truth is, some things are not forgivable in the eyes of those that have the power to forgive and to allow a person to move on with their life in the aftermath of a felony conviction. It's a hard pill to swallow and yet, much like a passage from one of the personal stories in the big book which says "acceptance is the key to all of my problems". Some things in life are easier to accept than others and when you remove the aspect of hope from it all......it's very hard to accept.
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Old 04-19-2020, 08:50 AM
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Thank you both for the kind words. I've yet to get started on writing a book although I've said in the past that I'd like to. Putting it all together is a lot to consider it seems and so.....maybe in time, but not just yet.

My older brother's struggle (Vernon) is something that's covered many years in terms of a lifetime and while I can relate to some degree, he's been faced with a much more difficult set of circumstances from the very beginning of this sentence than I ever was in terms of the time factor and when exactly the end will come about. I fear that he will never get out. That's a considerably different attitude and belief compared to what many of us thought in the beginning back in 1985 when he first entered the prison system there in California.
Time itself means different things to different people, but when there is no hope of ever leaving prison whether it be due to parole or discharging a sentence....you have to learn to rely on something in terms of motivation and a sense of "what am I living for" that is beyond the norm.
Back in 1985, he thought he'd be out in 10-15 years and when that time passed, 20 years and when that passed, 30 years and now.....what, 40 years? I don't know? The offense he committed was anything, but humane. Still, it had to do with drugs and the person who was the victim was a drug dealer and so, why so long? Answer- the victim was a federal witness and as time reveals what the real truth is, some things are not forgivable in the eyes of those that have the power to forgive and to allow a person to move on with their life in the aftermath of a felony conviction. It's a hard pill to swallow and yet, much like a passage from one of the personal stories in the big book which says "acceptance is the key to all of my problems". Some things in life are easier to accept than others and when you remove the aspect of hope from it all......it's very hard to accept.
Horrible situation! One day maybe America will lose its vengeance mindset and end such cruelty. Very few people in this world are irredeemable. My guy is in for life and he tells me that I am "air." Heavy words...

Just so you know, I am an editor when the time comes for your book)) Just one chapter at a time is how it gets done. Like eating an elephant....
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Old 04-19-2020, 07:56 PM
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Horrible situation! One day maybe America will lose its vengeance mindset and end such cruelty. Very few people in this world are irredeemable. My guy is in for life and he tells me that I am "air." Heavy words...

Just so you know, I am an editor when the time comes for your book)) Just one chapter at a time is how it gets done. Like eating an elephant....

The vengeance mindset doesn't come from the people it comes from the government and it's so called judicial and authoritative agents who distribute the laws. People in general are more compassionate and forgiving. At least that's how i see it.
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Old 04-19-2020, 08:03 PM
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Thank you both for the kind words. I've yet to get started on writing a book although I've said in the past that I'd like to. Putting it all together is a lot to consider it seems and so.....maybe in time, but not just yet.

My older brother's struggle (Vernon) is something that's covered many years in terms of a lifetime and while I can relate to some degree, he's been faced with a much more difficult set of circumstances from the very beginning of this sentence than I ever was in terms of the time factor and when exactly the end will come about. I fear that he will never get out. That's a considerably different attitude and belief compared to what many of us thought in the beginning back in 1985 when he first entered the prison system there in California.
Time itself means different things to different people, but when there is no hope of ever leaving prison whether it be due to parole or discharging a sentence....you have to learn to rely on something in terms of motivation and a sense of "what am I living for" that is beyond the norm.
Back in 1985, he thought he'd be out in 10-15 years and when that time passed, 20 years and when that passed, 30 years and now.....what, 40 years? I don't know? The offense he committed was anything, but humane. Still, it had to do with drugs and the person who was the victim was a drug dealer and so, why so long? Answer- the victim was a federal witness and as time reveals what the real truth is, some things are not forgivable in the eyes of those that have the power to forgive and to allow a person to move on with their life in the aftermath of a felony conviction. It's a hard pill to swallow and yet, much like a passage from one of the personal stories in the big book which says "acceptance is the key to all of my problems". Some things in life are easier to accept than others and when you remove the aspect of hope from it all......it's very hard to accept.

I don't understand the revenge behind your brothers imprisonment. He has more than done his time. I'm sure if that was a police officer who did the shooting irrespective if the murdered man was an informant or not, he would not have gotten so much time behind bars. I truly am so sorry for your brothers situation.
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Old 04-21-2020, 07:23 AM
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I don't understand the revenge behind your brothers imprisonment. He has more than done his time. I'm sure if that was a police officer who did the shooting irrespective if the murdered man was an informant or not, he would not have gotten so much time behind bars. I truly am so sorry for your brothers situation.
It's something that you have to look at that is not easily detected and which time itself reveals in terms of the revenge factor. The victim was a drug dealer who burned a customer in a drug deal. Did my brother deserve to go to prison? Yes....he deserves the time in prison. 40 years flat for what he did? No.....not by a long shot. 20 years? Ok.....I'll buy that. But why 40 years or more in the eyes of Parole Board? The victim was a federal witness and there is political pressure applied in making sure that debt or grievance is atoned for. I don't feel that way, but someone high up in the food chain does and unfortunately that's what counts
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Old 04-21-2020, 03:56 PM
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It's something that you have to look at that is not easily detected and which time itself reveals in terms of the revenge factor. The victim was a drug dealer who burned a customer in a drug deal. Did my brother deserve to go to prison? Yes....he deserves the time in prison. 40 years flat for what he did? No.....not by a long shot. 20 years? Ok.....I'll buy that. But why 40 years or more in the eyes of Parole Board? The victim was a federal witness and there is political pressure applied in making sure that debt or grievance is atoned for. I don't feel that way, but someone high up in the food chain does and unfortunately that's what counts

It sounds to me that there's more to the story than what the system has you and your brother believing. That drug dealer that your brother murdered could have been an undercover cop, rogue cop or could be related to someone higher up in the system. And that's probably why your brother is being punished severely. I wonder if you can look into it more to see what you can find relating to the actual drug dealer/informant.

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Old 04-22-2020, 06:42 AM
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It sounds to me that there's more to the story than what the system has you and your brother believing. That drug dealer that your brother murdered could have been an undercover cop, rogue cop or could be related to someone higher up in the system. And that's probably why your brother is being punished severely. I wonder if you can look into it more to see what you can find relating to the actual drug dealer/informant.
It's my understanding that the victim's father was a prominent member of the community there in the community where the murder took place. The victim came from a well to do family and for several years every time my brother would come up for parole the mother & father would present at the parole hearing to protest. The last time Vernon came up for review this past February, a member of the district attorney's office as well a representative for a victim's advocate group were present and so.....my brother's adversaries most often have a lot of ammunition on hand when the chance for freedom comes calling.
Still, enough is enough, but....what is one to do?
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Old 04-22-2020, 12:41 PM
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It's my understanding that the victim's father was a prominent member of the community there in the community where the murder took place. The victim came from a well to do family and for several years every time my brother would come up for parole the mother & father would present at the parole hearing to protest. The last time Vernon came up for review this past February, a member of the district attorney's office as well a representative for a victim's advocate group were present and so.....my brother's adversaries most often have a lot of ammunition on hand when the chance for freedom comes calling.
Still, enough is enough, but....what is one to do?


If you had the money you could fight it under the grounds that your brother has done his time several times over, is resentful for his crime and is now a changed man. I don't know are there any compassionate attorneys in the U.S who would be willing to take on his case probono? I know that everyone talks about the innocent project but they're all booked to the eyeball with cases and are under funded. Surely someone out there is compassionate enough to take on the case? Yes/No?
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Old 04-23-2020, 10:22 AM
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That's food for thought, Born. You have some good points that are to be considered.
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