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

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  #1  
Old 09-01-2012, 12:00 PM
Michelle Dawson Michelle Dawson is offline
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Default When does life sentence not mean life sentence?

Up until a 16 months ago I knew nothing about the DOC. I was reauquointed with a childhood friend who is serving a life sentence with the option of parole. He was honest wuth me about it from the begining. He told me he had been set off once and that his reconsideration date was going to be June 2012. He is in for armrobbery in Georgia that is considered one of the deadly sins. He has served 16 years. We havent heard anyg regarding reconsideration yet but he is always certain he will be coming home. The more I read on the DOC the more I become not so certain. We have never discussed thehat if's. Im sure anyday now he will here how can I get him to prepare for the what if's or do you just face it when and if it happens? Not knowing what can happen is hurting more than knowing. We are now committed to each other for life I just wish I knew if he is coming home.
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Old 09-01-2012, 12:16 PM
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You cannot prepare for the what ifs, in my experience. Try that and you will be chasing your tail forever. He has learned to live one day at a time and you must learn to do the same or this ride will run you over. Good luck, Michelle.
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Old 09-01-2012, 12:42 PM
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Some states still have parole. Some states, I believe, a life sentence is NEVER natural life but maybe 7 years or 15 or 20.

I know Florida abolished parole in the mid 80s.

However, there is still folks here in prison that have 'Life with' meaning they go up for parole after so long every 7 or 10 years, maybe it's every 5 years. If 300 go up a year, only maybe 13 or 14 actually get paroled. I don't know if that many go up each year, but I know the number that get paroled is in the teen digits.

And, it's like that in most every other state from what I see in the Lifers forum here at PTO.

It is mind boggling to deal with this to start with, it has to be worse to go up for parole, thinking and hoping and wishing....only to get shot down.

Marty was sentenced in 1986....I don't have that to worry with...sigh.

As far as preparing, good luck with that. No amount of any kind of classes, or films or even brain washing can prepare him for society after 16 years. Think of the IT side of it, for starters. When Marty went to prison VCRs still had the wired controllers (anyone remember those), he got hold of this dudes MP3 player the other day and was so embarrassed he didn't know how to turn it on he just held on to it until the guy come back for it. 16 years ago I didn't have a cell phone or internet, I was lucky if we had more than four channels to watch on TV.
Sixteen years ago it was still considered taboo to be in a interracial relationship or be gay, lesbian or bi. Sixteen years ago....just think about how the kids act now days! And adults, too. Everything is used for an excuse to bypass manners and upbringing...

Inside it's not like this out here. It will be more of a time warp coming out now then it was for him going in then. I imagine it's got to be mentally challenging as well.

And, I stay on Marty all the time about his behavior and the shenanigans he pulls sometimes because it will have weight on any future parole they may bring back (the winds of change are on us, too)....but, might as well go talk to the sidewalk. I would probably get more reaction.

And, it will get their hopes up only to be crushed. That's why it's like talking to a sidewalk.
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Old 09-01-2012, 03:55 PM
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it all depends on the state parole board. There s one member on here her lifer made parole and now home. There is another member that her loved one had a sentence of 7tolife and has been incarcerated 34 years already and still behind that fence.
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Old 09-01-2012, 06:29 PM
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That one with the 7 to life is me. I am new to this journey with him and I can tell you this much in the state of California there is not much effort by the parole board to release lifers. They can do all that is asked of them and more and they still don't get released. My husband has been to board over 20 times and each time they comend him for his efforts and in the next breath they say sorry about your luck and there is always an excuse such as the inmate lacks insight, the seriousness of the crime, or whatever else they can find. How my husband has dealt with this for 34 years is first of all "do the time, don't let the time do you". Remain focused and just do yourself. Your friends and acquaintances on the inside are not going to get you released. He also says that this is a "process". Never give up hope. And finally he says "never let what you do not haVe control over dictate what you are going to do". He and I both remain optimistic that he will come home, hopefully sooner instead of later.
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Old 09-01-2012, 08:01 PM
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Originally Posted by krc1abc1 View Post
That one with the 7 to life is me. I am new to this journey with him and I can tell you this much in the state of California there is not much effort by the parole board to release lifers. They can do all that is asked of them and more and they still don't get released. My husband has been to board over 20 times and each time they comend him for his efforts and in the next breath they say sorry about your luck and there is always an excuse such as the inmate lacks insight, the seriousness of the crime, or whatever else they can find. How my husband has dealt with this for 34 years is first of all "do the time, don't let the time do you". Remain focused and just do yourself. Your friends and acquaintances on the inside are not going to get you released. He also says that this is a "process". Never give up hope. And finally he says "never let what you do not haVe control over dictate what you are going to do". He and I both remain optimistic that he will come home, hopefully sooner instead of later.
Your husband sounds as remarkable as my man, for this is our story too. He has been coming up for parole every two to three years since 1991 and this year marked his 34th year behind the fences as well.

He has this same attitude and I have heard the same words from his mouth nearly verbatim. I don't know how he does it, I don't handle it nearly as well. We have heard the same words from the parole board here, except with one difference, he has been approved 9 times by the board, but we cannot make it past the governor's office.

I thought the last denial was going to kill me. What frustrates the hell out of me is that we know of several lifers that have been paroled and we cannot understand why them and not him.......sigh. We go up again in 2014.......maybe......just maybe.....I must admit I find it harder to hold onto hope than he does.......
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Old 09-01-2012, 08:59 PM
Michelle Dawson Michelle Dawson is offline
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Thanks Ladies o appreciate all the advice. Your right he has learned to live day by day. All we can do is pray and hope for the best.
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Old 09-01-2012, 09:36 PM
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Mine has never been approved not once. And it is beyond ridiculas that they have held him this long for his crime. We go up next year but I don't know if we will wait a while right now he has a write up to complicate things. As I had said I am new to this and we met while I was working where he is. Our relationship was discovered and he has been in ad Seg 120 days. We are committed to each other and I quit my job as soon as this happened. It was my intent to do so any way. I just didn't do it fast enough. The first write up in 34 years and he is guilty of a very human emotion and need, to love and be loved.

I think how they do it is quite simple really. The DOC has their physical bodies but not their minds. Also I think lifers such as our men have a very different mind set. Mine has this very spiritual essence to him and has the most positive attitude of anyone I have ever met. This is one of the many qualities about him that attracted me in the first place. He is also the most kind, considerate, and caring man I have ever known. When he first approached me about a relationship he wrote me a letter and the amazing thing about that letter was that he never once mentioned what he wanted but told me what he wanted to do for me to enrich my life. And the amazing thing is there was nothing materialistic about what his goals were. It was all about what he wanted to do with me in the spiritual realm.

Some ask why I would choose to walk this journey with this man. The answer is simple. In the year we have been together he has done more for me than any other simply by being the man that he is. As soon as he is transferred and we are able to marry we plan to. Regardless if he paroles or not I am with him on this journey wherever it takes us.
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Old 09-01-2012, 09:39 PM
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JKB's Girl best of luck to you the next time before the board.
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Old 09-03-2012, 06:40 AM
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The best thing to do would be to look up the parole release statistics in your state. They're not all the same. All that reference for abolishing parole just made it easier for most felons below murder to get released automatically without having to go before the board of parole.

I had the same worries when I got involved with my lifer, with a couple of bodies, some years back. Although my state's release rate is low, they still have a release rate. We have thousands of murder offenders go to the parole board each year (note, doesn't sound like your guy killed anybody so that sets him in a much better light). After much research, I decided that my guy has as much a chance as any of the other lifers of getting out and every year they let out about 200 of them in my state. I believe one of these years my husband will be one of those releasees.
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Old 09-03-2012, 06:05 PM
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All that reference for abolishing parole just made it easier for most felons below murder to get released automatically without having to go before the board of parole.
Huh? I was following pretty good until this sentence. Are you speaking of a specific state or law or what? Who got released automatically w/out going before the parole board?

No one with life gets by the parole board in Florida, and if that's the case in another state I sure would be interested in more info.....or am I totally confused?
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Old 09-03-2012, 07:06 PM
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from what i understand in the state of georgia they don't even go up in front of the board.."the board" just makes there decision based on there file..it's crazy..they hold someones life and they can't even meet with them face to face.
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Old 09-03-2012, 07:26 PM
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My husband has life with a possibility of parole ..He has been in for 18 years...We are boh in Alabama and the Parole Board is so behind and not releasing many as they should..I pray every day that God will send him home to me, healthy in his mind, body and soul..When you believe in GOD and know that he has his arms all around him,then you show more faith in GOD and not man. Believe and God will release. May God Bless and keep you..Knowing IN GOD WE TRUST.
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Old 09-04-2012, 05:56 AM
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Hi Shoogabritches, sorry I was so unclear. I was referring to that "truth in sentencing" federal law which became determinate sentencing in many, if not most states, whereby parole was "abolished" for violent felons. That's the law that upped minimum sentences to a single, longer number, so a 4-12 became a flat 6. A 2-6 became a flat 4. More importantly, long sentences like 12 1/2-25 became flat 15's, 10-30's became flat 12's. So they got a little bit longer than the minimum, about two years on average in my state, not exactly the equivalent of getting hit by the parole board repeatedly like happens to lifers in most states. What that really means is that most violent felons, meaning those below murder offenses, have flat bids in a lot of states and they get out either at a conditional release date or at their maximum expiration. Somehow this was being tough on crime by so called abolishing parole and just letting them out whether they'd done well or not without the discretionary determination of the parole board.

Lifers on the other hand (except lwop and those whose minimums are longer than natural life), are still the old fashioned indeterminate sentence with some number on the minimum and life on the maximum, like 25-life. They still see the parole board in most states I think but perhaps I am wrong on that point and NY is more an exception. In my opinion, since this flat bid sentence structure was invented, the board lets out fewer people than ever. In NY where I"m from the board used to see everyone and let out most people except those that were screwing up inside. Now they only see lifers and persistents and hardly let any of them out even when they are doing well and have letters of reference of recommendation from people of influence.

So that's what I meant, or maybe I misinterpreted what you meant, about the abolishing of parole. To me it just means determinate sentences for everyone but lifers and fewer lifers getting out while all the violent felons below life have a guaranteed release date.

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Old 09-04-2012, 11:02 AM
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I gotcha Irish.
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Old 09-05-2012, 02:37 PM
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The thing about all of this is these parole boards need to.be reeasing people especially these lifers who.have been down for many years . They have the lowest recidicism rate and are costing most tax dollars to house.
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Old 09-05-2012, 06:55 PM
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Hi Shoogabritches, sorry I was so unclear. I was referring to that "truth in sentencing" federal law which became determinate sentencing in many, if not most states, whereby parole was "abolished" for violent felons. That's the law that upped minimum sentences to a single, longer number, so a 4-12 became a flat 6. A 2-6 became a flat 4. More importantly, long sentences like 12 1/2-25 became flat 15's, 10-30's became flat 12's. So they got a little bit longer than the minimum, about two years on average in my state, not exactly the equivalent of getting hit by the parole board repeatedly like happens to lifers in most states. What that really means is that most violent felons, meaning those below murder offenses, have flat bids in a lot of states and they get out either at a conditional release date or at their maximum expiration. Somehow this was being tough on crime by so called abolishing parole and just letting them out whether they'd done well or not without the discretionary determination of the parole board.

Lifers on the other hand (except lwop and those whose minimums are longer than natural life), are still the old fashioned indeterminate sentence with some number on the minimum and life on the maximum, like 25-life. They still see the parole board in most states I think but perhaps I am wrong on that point and NY is more an exception. In my opinion, since this flat bid sentence structure was invented, the board lets out fewer people than ever. In NY where I"m from the board used to see everyone and let out most people except those that were screwing up inside. Now they only see lifers and persistents and hardly let any of them out even when they are doing well and have letters of reference of recommendation from people of influence.

So that's what I meant, or maybe I misinterpreted what you meant, about the abolishing of parole. To me it just means determinate sentences for everyone but lifers and fewer lifers getting out while all the violent felons below life have a guaranteed release date.
fantastic reading for me. Its my understanding that NY has less than a 3% release rate on lifers. This past week someone my husband knows went before the parole with exceptional letters of recommendation incl the Supt. they denied and gave him 2 more yrs before the board will see him again. You are absolutely correct that the nature of the crime is what determines the outcome in NY.
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Old 09-06-2012, 02:03 PM
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Just wanted to chime in a bit. I dont post in here much but my fiancé is a lifer with the chance of parole in the state of AZ, he will see the board in a little over 16 years. He recently had a "neighbor" who was doing 25-life spent 15 of those years on lockdown for various reasons ranging from violence to drugs and small things, first time up he was actually released. He had quite a few letters of recommendation, a decent lawyer, and had learned a trade but honestly hadnt done as much as some of the things as what I've read about peoples LO's doing.My best friends uncle was doing life in GA and after doing 30 years he was released. I read horror stories and it scares me honestly. Its as if these boards play games with these inmates lives. Sometimes it seems as though they release them depending on if they are having a good day or not. Im starting to learn more and more but from what I've read the state they are in has a great deal to do with the outcome. I only know of those two stories personally but those two stories alone give me hope that my bubs will be home in my arms, at least one day.
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Old 09-06-2012, 09:44 PM
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I wonder about nonviolent life sentences because much of what i read and hear is about lifers who have violent crime charges. There are statistics for that, are there for non-violent life sentences/releases? Thanks.
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Old 09-07-2012, 08:54 AM
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I know what everyone is talking about is so true, especially in the state of California. However, I have a friend that runs a re-entry program for Lifers. He currently has 10 Lifers in his program. Lifers that I never thought would walk out the doors of prison. I know that I have heard a few of there stories and have been blown away at the fact that they were ever granted parole. So I do believe its possible. I know that is what keeps me going is knowing that it is possible. Having Faith, Hope, and Love, doesnt cure it all, but it does make it a little easier when you are trying to get past the pain of wondering will they ever come home.

I want to give you all hope, and if you have been struggling with getting parole in the State of California, look to see if there is a re-entry program in your area, it can only help if you have additional support when you go to Board.
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Old 09-08-2012, 09:47 AM
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That one with the 7 to life is me. I am new to this journey with him and I can tell you this much in the state of California there is not much effort by the parole board to release lifers. They can do all that is asked of them and more and they still don't get released. My husband has been to board over 20 times and each time they comend him for his efforts and in the next breath they say sorry about your luck and there is always an excuse such as the inmate lacks insight, the seriousness of the crime, or whatever else they can find. How my husband has dealt with this for 34 years is first of all "do the time, don't let the time do you". Remain focused and just do yourself. Your friends and acquaintances on the inside are not going to get you released. He also says that this is a "process". Never give up hope. And finally he says "never let what you do not haVe control over dictate what you are going to do". He and I both remain optimistic that he will come home, hopefully sooner instead of later.
Thank you for sharing. May God bless you and your loved one with a release date, I'll keep you in my prayers.
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Old 09-09-2012, 05:44 PM
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Thank you so much for your response to my post ViVstaR. The more praying the better. We continue to pray and know that he will be home someday soon and we accept nothing less than this.
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Old 09-09-2012, 06:28 PM
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You guys are mentioning a re-entry program. I saw something about this at our location, its by appointment only but i wonder if speaking to them would give me good information for him so when his time comes. That why he will have been doing the correct things already. at our place the rumor is the warden has released 3 lifers. Not sure though.
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Old 09-11-2012, 01:01 PM
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You guys are mentioning a re-entry program. I saw something about this at our location, its by appointment only but i wonder if speaking to them would give me good information for him so when his time comes. That why he will have been doing the correct things already. at our place the rumor is the warden has released 3 lifers. Not sure though.
Any information is good information...forewarned is forearmed...it is never to early to start planning. Good luck in your journey
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Old 09-21-2012, 07:05 PM
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My Fiance was sentenced to life in Alabama. He has been incarcerated for 10 years. His eligibility date is in 2019. I pray that he is released at that time...Alabama penal system is nothing like New Jersey's.
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