Thursday, January 6, 2011

Thoughts on Three Strikes

The following was written by an inmate in the Monroe, WA Correctional facility. This work is the property of the author[s]/creator[s]. Subject to the right of "Fair Use" as recognized by law, no person may print, reprint, publish, copy, perform, deliver, transmit or sell any work posted within the Voices from Prison. assumes no responsibility for the unlawful or unauthorized use of any work posted.

Good evening ladies and gentlemen. My name is ______ and I would like to address the following issue.
At the time of my latest conviction and sentencing, I was the youngest person in the state of Washington to have been given a harsh sentence of life without the possibility of parole, which is in reality a death sentence, at the age of 21.

My first strike was a second-degree robbery, which was snatching a purse off the ground. I was given 4 months in the King county jail. At this time, I was 18 years old.

My second strike was a second-degree robbery, which resulted from a dope deal gone bad. I was given ten months and sent to prison. I was 20 years old at the time.

My third strike was a second-degree robbery. My standard range was 63 to 84 months. However, the prosecutor did not even consider giving me the standard range, or offer me drug treatment for the drug addiction I once had. Instead, he decided to throw the book at me. I was 21 years old. How was I supposed to know at that particular time back in 1994, that I was being placed in a position to be struck out, and have my whole life taken from me? I have taken the necessary steps to work on myself and get better as a human being over the course of my incarceration.

It is obvious that society and our system do not seem to care if a person turns their life around or not because their attitude and belief is that I should die in prison for the mistakes I made at the ages of 18, 20, and 21, with no chance or consideration of release.

I am a 36 years old man now and my perspective on how I need to live my life from this day forward is very different from when I was 18. I do hold myself accountable for my actions, and I am definitely not proud of what I have done.

My question is how long does a person need to be incarcerated in order to be proven that he or she is rehabilitated and fit to be back in society? 1 have changed my life and I am ready to get out and give back to any community that may have any at risk youth regardless of race. My brother _______ and I
are just two out of five family members struck out under this three-strikes law.

This three-strikes law has been very devastating on my entire family! Unfortunately, I lost my mother to cancer on October 18, 2006. She was my best friend. Every day I reflect on the foolish mistakes I made to disappoint her and let her down. However, since the passing of my mother, her wisdom and spirit lies within me. I have the ability as I always did to change for the better. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I can be a good service in the community. Sixteen years ago does not define the man I am today. Being under these conditions has given me the opportunity to work on myself mentally, emotionally, spiritually. intellectually, as well as to gain some education.  All I ask is to be given a chance to get out of prison, live a life on life's terms, be responsible, and be a productive member of society

In closing, these are my accomplishments;
Victims Awareness — Anger Management
Stress/Anger Management — Cultural Diversity
Narcotics Anonymous — Smart Recovery
Adult Basic Education Writing III
Partners in Parenting — Indiana Chair Frame Pre-Assembly
Job Dynamics — Interaction Transition of the United Way
I am also enrolled in the Edmonds Community College trying pursue my G.E.D., which I have one test left to complete. I also would like to apologize to the victims in my case, my family, my community, and to the taxpayers for my irresponsible behavior that I caused. Please forgive me.


  1. This powerful story was posted as insight into the story of an individual who has been sentenced to life in prison without parole at the age of 21 years old. 21 years old! All based on three strikes committed between the age of 18 and 21. How much did you change as a person from the time you were 21? If you are like me, your mindset and actions are probably much different now. Think about that for a minute.

    In our daily lives we do not think about the implications of life in prison, where an inmate with life without parole basically sits waiting to die. Do we really believe that a troubled 21 year old cannot be rehabilitated after a period of time? Must we throw people away like this without even thinking about possibility of getting out and becoming positive members of our society? Something needs to change in the way we look at criminal justice.

    Have a comment or opinion you would like to share? Post it here

  2. Thinking about mistakes I have made and how much a person changes over time, I would absolutely advocate giving this individual a chance to re-enter society. One thing I have learned is that there is nothing that is black and white - only shades of grey. The the Three Strikes you're out law is a flawed deterrent.

  3. Thanks for the comment Mark. Washington currently does not have a parole system, so under the current criminal justice system, this inmate will not be given a chance to "re-enter society".

  4. What an indictment of the flawed experiment known at "3 Strikes." None of us stay the same person we were at age 21. This static approach to the human person and the law is depriving us of resources and redeemed talent.

  5. I've been told that there is a group of organizations hoping to introduce a bill in the current Washington state legislature allowing for the existing parole board, dating from a previous law, to review the sentences of people who have been in prison 10 years or more. I don't know all of the details, but if passed hopefully the subject of this post would have at least some hope in life.

  6. Kent, you are correct. Although the details are a little different. We are hoping to get the drafter of the proposed legislation to write an article for us in the next couple of weeks. The prisoners we are working will also be providing comments on what they feel would be most effective. Fabruary 14th is our day in Olympia! Stay tuned and we'll get you more details on the legislation.