Even though I was subsequently sentenced to 40 years, I still was happy that I found a positive avenue that I could invest my time into and hopefully become a better person. (read the rest of the letter)The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled mandatory juvenile life without parole sentences are unconstitutional. A bill dealing that would have brought Colorado into compliance with the supreme court was killed before receiving a hearing on April 2, 2013. Click this link for in-depth information about the issue, and our next plan of action. fromlifetojustice.pendulumfoundation.com
But things didn’t go as planned. No one inside the system wanted to give me a chance. They argued that it would be a waste of resources since I had so much time and my degree I obtained would be invalid after a dormant 10 years. Student advisors shunned me. DOC case managers ignored my correspondence course requests. Even vocational teachers inside the system didn’t want to touch me. I felt like I was forced onto a path of “prison politics.” Concerning myself with only the happenings of prison and my future here. I spent 9 aimless years just “doing time.” Then I heard about your program. I wrote and you denied me like everyone else had done in the past. But something told me to try again and we were able to find some middle ground. I remember the letter said, “You’re technically ineligible because of the date of your arrest, but timing is so close and we really applaud your desire to continue and education. I will help you.” I don’t think you know how much you changed my life with that letter. You created better options for my day to day activities which in turn created better options for my life. You had my back when there was no one else. You gave me an opportunity to dream about a life outside of prison, a successful life, a responsible life.I’m currently taking my final course of my A.A. degree at Adams State. Yep, a big milestone for me, but not the end. Other people saw the success I had with the course you paid for and eventually they opened the door up for me too. Yeah, all the people who told me NO in the beginning saw my dedication due to the opportunities you gave me. So I’ve been able to do a lot of patchwork with different colleges. Mary Ellen Johnson, the confidence, maturity, knowledge, and opportunities available to me now are all because of you and I thank you and appreciate you with all my heart. Please stay as beautiful as you are because you are changing lives.