Categories
Art & Storytelling Events

Across the Walls Screening

Join us for a screening of Across the Walls followed by discussion: 2nd Chances Keep Us Safer 

February 18, 2pm -4pm, Saturday

Carnegie Museum of Art Theater
4400 Forbes Avenue | Pittsburgh, PA 

Access Notes: Wheelchair accessible. Captions on film. Wear a mask. This event is Free. 

Black and White photo of Paulette and Avis sitting on a couch in a living room. They are turned toward each other in mid conversation.

2nd Chances Keep Us Safer – Film and Panel Discussion

Long prison sentences are not keeping us safe! Join us for a big screen viewing of Across the Walls A film featuring Avis Lee and Paulette Carrington were released from life sentences after each serving over 40 years. This panel following the film will invite you to consider how second chances can actually make our communities safer, more loving and collectively thriving.  Hear the stories of people who are doing just that, returning citizens who are building pathways home for the people they left behind and what impact they’re making for us all. 

Speakers: 

Ricky Olds, Executive Director of the House of Life

Richard Garland, Executive Director of ReImagine Reentry 

Terri Minor Spencer founder of Colorful Backgrounds EXPO 

Across the Walls: 20 minutes
Filmed and Edited by Njaimeh Njie

Film Screening 2 – 2:20pm

Panel Discussion 2:30- 3:30pm

Reception with Light Refreshments – 3:30- 4pm

Across the Walls is a documentary film that offers an intimate glimpse into the experiences of women sentenced to life in prison without parole in the state of Pennsylvania. After decades of activism and community building, recently Avis Lee and Paulette Carrington were released from life sentences after each serving over 40 years. As they adjust to life outside, they’ve kept their focus on organizing to end life without parole, and helping the women they left inside be released. 


The film stages a conversation between Avis and Paulette on the outside, and five women who are still on the inside. Using interviews, found footage, and landscape cinematography, the film assembles a story about the women’s interior lives, against the backdrop of spaces they’ve inhabited and spaces they’ve been taken away from. Never straying from the women’s points of view, Across the Walls is a meditation on memory, and manifestations for a free future.

Categories
News

Rob Perkins: Fair defense funding is a must for criminal justice reform

Rob Perkins| Saturday, Jan. 7, 2023 11:00 a.m.

Opinion Printed in the Trib Live

Our local system for providing counsel to poor people facing criminal charges violates people’s constitutional rights. The most pressing problem is chronic underfunding. Attorney compensation in particular hasn’t increased in 17 years.

Predictably, unfair pay leads to underperformance. This should matter to all of us. When defense attorneys fail to do their job effectively, the criminal legal system malfunctions — and good people’s lives are ruined. Allegheny County President Judge Kim Berkeley Clark must act to improve this system.

As the Supreme Court recognized 60 years ago, the “assistance of counsel is one of the safeguards of the Sixth Amendment deemed necessary to insure fundamental human rights of life and liberty.” People facing criminal charges, such as drug possession or assault, have a constitutional right to effective counsel. If they cannot afford to hire an attorney, the state must pay the costs of defense.

The Public Defender’s office, which does consistently provide effective counsel, represents many indigent (poor) defendants, but cannot handle every case. The local courts, led by Clark, appoint and pay private attorneys to meet the excess demand. This court-supervised system is the focus here. Court-appointed attorneys handle about 1,800 cases annually. That means thousands of lives are impacted by the quality of court-appointed counsel.

An adequate defense is essential because our justice system is adversarial by design — prosecuting attorneys on one side of the aisle and defense attorneys on the other. Prosecutors, working with the police, seek to convict and punish those charged with crimes. Consistent with that role, prosecutors often focus on building a case against the accused rather than investigating other suspects who may be the true culprit.

Defense attorneys, in turn, serve as a counterbalance and check on government overreach by testing the government’s evidence and humanizing the accused.

The ideal is this: After these opposing sides present their cases vigorously, justice will prevail.

Without an effective defense, our adversarial system fails. Innocent people are imprisoned — a result that is not only inhumane, but also requires taxpayers to pay the $40,000-per-year incarceration tab.

Young people with promising futures are unfairly branded with felony convictions, which will impose permanent employment barriers among other collateral consequences.

Shockingly, the courts have not increased the fees paid to attorneys who defend poor people since 2006. — not even for inflation or cost of living (By comparison, during that same period, judges’ salaries jumped well over 50%.)

Allegheny County’s funding now lags far behind that of similar locales.

Here’s what that means in practice: Say an attorney devotes 50 hours of their time to successfully defending an innocent mother of two. The maximum compensation for that attorney is just $750 in most cases. This results in a financial loss for the attorney, who must pay the rent, staff and other expenses just to keep their office doors open.

Moreover, because attorneys are generally paid the same fee regardless of how many hours they devote to case preparations, the system creates perverse incentives — and attorneys may be forced to choose between their client’s legal interests and their own financial interests. That is, if the attorney puts in the work necessary to help the client get a fair outcome, he or she loses money. So the economically rational choice is to devote as little time as possible to the case. But if the attorney fails to put in the necessary work, the client has a worse outcome — and that innocent mother of two goes to prison.

As a result of these system failures, many experienced attorneys stop accepting appointments to represent poor people. Those attorneys who continue to do so are incentivized to devote minimal time to each case. Unsurprisingly, a Rand Corp. research study confirmed that inadequate defense funding systems (like ours) lead to worse client outcomes.

As the human rights attorney Bryan Stevenson famously noted, the American criminal legal system “treats you much better if you’re rich and guilty than if you’re poor and innocent.” That quote rings true here in Allegheny County, where oftentimes inexperienced attorneys are paid a fraction of the private market rate to represent poor defendants — many of whom are Black, come from marginalized communities, and/or suffer from mental health or addiction issues.

This failure to fund indigent defense sends a message to families directly impacted by the system: “You are not our priority.”

In fairness to Clark, she inherited this inequitable system. Now is the time to fix it.

Rob Perkins is president of Allegheny Lawyers Initiative for Justice, a coalition committed to local criminal justice reform

info@ali4j.orghttps://www.ali4j.org/

Categories
Art & Storytelling Events

Submit art and poetry for Let’s Get Free’s next art show by February 1, 2023

Two hands are patting down the earth as young seedlings grow under a moon. The colors fade from darkblue to green in the foreground and orange to pink in the background. Text reads "Call For Art" and "Picture a Free World"
artwork by Devon Cohen

Call for Visual Art and Poems from artists on both sides of the prison walls

This year’s theme: Picture a Free World

Pierre Pinson, member of Let’s Get Free’s Prison Advisory Board, offered this theme. The theme is expansive. It can be interpreted many different ways and can connect to work you have already made or inspire new work. Picturing a Free World is an act of imagination in itself, and it will take creativity for us to get there. Art will help us imagine, to strategize and to continue our movements for freedom. What is a free world for you, for others? Perhaps it is literally being released from prison, maybe you consider system wide changes that would promote mass liberation, maybe you depict a small detail of what it looks like to feel or be free. What is your definition of Freedom? From what are you trying to free yourself? How are you trying to get free? 

Submission Deadline:
February 1, 2023

The show will open in July of 2023 at Concept Gallery in Regent Square Neighborhood of Pittsburgh.

Categories
Art & Storytelling

Let’s Get Free Permanent Art Collection

Over the years, LGF has gathered art from our annual art shows and from years of collaborating with artists in prison.The biggest bulk of our art came from our 2020 End Death By Incarceration themed art show. We’re continuing to add pieces.

Now, we’re making some of this art available to be borrowed as a collection! The Let’s Get Free Permanent Collection can be borrowed to give voice to people in prison and create dialogue wherever it may be. You can borrow one piece, several pieces or the whole collection.

To see the art and learn more about borrowing, visit the Permanent Collection on our Creative Resistance site.

Screenshot of art gallery images from LGF permanent collection, click through to the collection page for individual image descriptors
A sample of the art in the Permanent Collection
Categories
Events News

Teach-In Guaranteed Basic Income

Solid light blue background with yellow title text on a pink background that reads: Guaranteed Basic Income: A Teach-In Fundraiser. Tuesday, September 27th from 6:30-7:30 pm ET. The Let’s Get Free logo is to the right of the description: Let's Get Free is hosting a virtual teach-in as a fundraiser for the softer landing fund, which is a guaranteed basic income program for people coming home from long-term prison sentences. Registration and donation link: bit.ly/fundgbi. Screenshot of softer landing fund go fund me page is in the lower left corner next to headshots and titles of the guests: Brittany Pope, Evan Casper-Futterman and Richard Wallace.

Guaranteed Basic Income Teach-In & Fundraiser

Tuesday September 27
6:30-7:30pm
Virtual Zoom Teach In

Access Update: ASL/English Interpreters and auto generated captions

Register Here

Join Let’s Get Free in learning about Guaranteed Basic Income (GBI) with some organizations that are already trying it out! This one hour virtual teach-in is a fundraiser for A Softer Landing Fund, a new initiative to support people who have served long sentences coming home from prison. Panelists Brittany Pope (Bread for the City – DC) and Richard Wallace (EAT -Chicago) have both implemented GBI programs for formerly incarcerated people. Participants will hear an overview of their projects including success and challenges and have the opportunity to ask questions. Evan Casper-Futterman (Economic Democracy Learning Center – Bronx) will help us discern the nuances between mutual aid, guaranteed basic income and situate projects like these in a broader economic context.

Collectively we have raised $13,000 (!OMG! THANKS EVERYONE) so far but are still a long way from reaching our goal of $50,000. Sit with us for an hour, think about economic solidarity and kick down for the cause. Any amount is a great amount.

This event is organized by Dustin Gibson, kai koehler and etta cetera, the working group for A Softer Landing Fund.

Ways to Donate:

Venmo: @Lets-GetFree
Cashapp: $letsgetgreepgh
Check: Let’s Get Free 460 Melwood Ave #300 Pittsburgh, PA 15213



What is “A Softer Landing Fund”

A Softer Landing Fund is a guaranteed income initiative that will distribute recurring, cash payments with no strings attached to a number of formerly incarcerated people who are connected with Let’s Get Free. This pilot initiative will last one year and prioritize women returning from long sentences.We named our project A Softer Landing because even if you have a lot of support coming home from prison it is still very hard. There is the idea that often when you leave prison you enter into “financial incarceration”. You have to pay to be on parole, pay for unnecessary urine tests, face employment and housing barriers from felony status, are ordered to pay court and restitution fees, exclusion from social welfare programs, and more.

Wisdom Sharing by:

Brittany Pope serves as Economic Security Supervisor at Bread for the City, a non-profit organization in Washington, DC, which provides comprehensive services to DC residents living with low incomes, while also striving to help them develop power to determine the future of their own communities. She leads the Economic Security team, which focuses on coordinating, supporting, and advocating for guaranteed income projects and policy change. Brittany holds a master’s degree in Social Work from Catholic University, with a concentration in Social Justice and Change. Born and raised in Washington, DC, Brittany believes in uplifting its community and striving for a just society for all.

Image of Brittany Pope, a darkskin person with braids and purple ends, smiling in the headshot.
Image of Richard Wallace, a black man with a mustache and goatee + medium length locs looking directly into the camera.

Richard Wallace is a diversely talented artist & director with extensive experience developing effective campaigns to engage and empower working-class Chicagoans. Knack for effective coalition building and fundraising lends to a unique ability to align organizational goals with mission, practice, and desire to make a difference. Driven by a passion for racial equity; empowering working-class Chicagoans in the fight against anti-black racism in the US and abroad; and building strategic coalitions and networks that reinforce a social mission through the betterment of the community. Wallace currently serves as the Founding Executive Director of Equity and Transformation (EAT)

Evan Casper-Futterman, PhD is a 3rd generation New Yorker. He is the Program Director of the Economic Democracy Learning Center for the Bronx Cooperative Development Initiative. He earned a master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of New Orleans in 2011He received his PhD at the Bloustein School of Urban Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University, studying economic democracy and development. He has taught undergraduate courses at the Macaulay Honors College at City College (CUNY) and in the Geography department at Vassar College, as well as graduate courses at Hunter College and the CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies. He is a co-founder and former board treasurer of the Cooperative Economics Alliance of NYC and is the Secretary of the board for the Bronx Community Land Trust.

Image of Evan Casper-Futterman - a white person wearing a blue and read plaid flannel smiling directly at the camera.
Categories
Commutation News Resources

Tips for Support Letters for Commutation

LETTERS OF REENTRY SUPPORT AND LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION ARE IMPORTANT!

A Reentry Tangible Support Letter shows real support coming home: housing, money, job, transportation, clothes, etc… The best time to file these letters is when your commutation application is officially filed. The concern there is that the tangible support will become outdated because the process takes so long so if you can send the letters when you get your filing date they should be good. So wait to hear from the DOC and the BOP that your application has been filed. You can always send an updated letter of support if your application is taking a long time.

A letter of Recommendation explains why a person believes you are no longer a threat to public safety and have been rehabilitated. They can express other things like looking forward to spending time with you, showing you how to navigate the free world, etc. You can file these letters any time!

Keep in mind if you are writing to organizations for support letters and they don’t know you personally it is hard for them to write you a letter. Try building a relationship first.

Where to send your letter

Supporters can now email letters to the Secretary of the Board of Pardons currently Celeste Trusty – ctrusty@pa.gov and DOC Commutation point person Johnny Johnson – Johjohnson@pa.gov They will distribute the letter to the board and place it in the applicant’s packet.

Handwritten letters can be sent to: The Board of Pardons 333 Market St, Harrisburg, PA 17126

Asking Friends and Family for Letters

Support your friends in supporting you!

Here is a sample letter people in prison can use to mobilize family and friends to write letters:

Dear Friend/Family,

I am working on my commutation application. I would like to know if you would be interested in writing a letter of support to the board of pardons on my behalf. If you are open to this the letter should be addressed to The Board of Pardons 333 Market St, Harrisburg, PA 17126 make sure to send me a copy too. You can also email it to the secretary of the Board of Pardons currently Celeste Trusty ctrusty@pa.gov and DOC Commutation point person Johnny Johnson Johjohnson@pa.gov

For example:

RE: Jane Doe #BS2345

Dear Board of Pardons,

  1. I am writing in support of Jane Doe’s commutation application. I believe her life sentence should be commuted.
  2. Briefly touch on who you are, your background, employment, degrees, etc.
  3. How you came in contact with each other.
  4. Your thoughts on maturity, rehabilitation, accomplishments.
  5. Your thoughts on remorse for the convicted offense.
  6. Your thoughts on my chances for successful reentry into society, employment and participation in society upon my release.
  7. Any willingness you would have in assisting in my reentry to society i.e. references, referrals, homeplan, job etc. when I am released.

When you are finished with the letter please send the original back to me. Please also keep a copy for yourself. Your assistance is greatly appreciated.

Thank you,

Xyour nameX


Categories
Events News

Let Grandma Go Campaign Launch

Let Grandma Go! Campaign Launch

Friday July 29, 2022
6:00-9:00 pm Campaign Launch
9:00-11:00 pm After Party

5120 Penn Ave, Pittsburgh, PA

Donations to benefit Let’s Get Free

Campaign Launch 6-9pm 

Learn about the Let Grandma Go Campaign, Sign postcards to lawmakers, Reserve limited edition museum quality print featuring a new original portrait of Cyd Berger created by Mary Dewitt, Film screening of Wide Open 7 minute short, Refreshments, Buy LGF shirts, etc.

After party is 9-11pm

Dancing and Adult Beverages
DJ- Mary Mack
Bands- Grow Light, Close Prisons

Access Notes: Masks Up! There is an outside courtyard. We are checking about wheel chair access. The bathroom is for sure down stairs. Access questions: letsgetfreepa@gmail.com 


Bright color blocks of purples, pinks and blues depict the faces of 8 aging women serving life. The faces are quilted together to create the backdrop of this card. Text across the top reads"We are calling on PA state legislators, district attorneys & the board of pardons to:”  In a large cross stitch font large across the front it states" Let Grandma Go". A banner across the bottom states: “ It's time to release aging people from prison.”

Let Grandma Go is a public awareness campaign to make visible aging women in prison, pass laws that would liberate the elderly in prison and bring our friends home.

As time wears on, people who were sentenced to Death By Incarceration and other long sentences in the 70s, 80s, and 90s are getting older inside prisons. Their bodies are wearing out. They’ve become fundamentally different people than they were at the time of their arrest. Often, they use their skills as talented mentors, teachers, and peer educators to make a difference in the lives of younger incarcerated people and improve the world around them. We know that the punishment-driven system that keeps them incarcerated is oppressive,  inhumane, and unjust. And equally, we know our communities will be stronger with these elders and mentors home.

As part of the fight to free our elders, Let’s Get Free and CADBI (Coalition to Abolish Death By Incarceration) are sending monthly postcards to PA state legislators and DAs. The postcards highlight the stories of incarcerated women elders and urge politicians to support bills in the PA General Assembly.

Jennifer Rhodes’ card has a vibrant, patterned orange background and a cross-stitch-like design around the outer border. There are two photographs of Jennifer, a Black woman, at different stages of adulthood; she is looking at the camera and smiling in both. There is also a bright pink stylized silhouette of a bird with a flower in its beak. Text over the image reads, “It’s Jennifer’s 64th birthday. Give the gift of compassion and mercy. Let Grandma Go!” The following images have text that’s written out above.
Jennifer Rhodes is featured in the second post card.

April 22nd was Jennifer Rhodes’ birthday! Jennifer has spent the last 31 years in prison during which she has earned an Associates degree in Business, certification as an Optician, and soon will hold certification as a Braille Transcriber. She is also a role model and counselor to other incarcerated women. She has a daughter, who was just six years old when she was sentenced to Life Without Parole. At 64, she currently suffers from myeloid leukemia, Graves’ disease, degenerative joint disease, and type 2 diabetes.

Support Medical and Geriatric Parole Reform in Pennsylvania Pass SB 835 and HB 2347


SB 835 and HB 2347 are identical companion bills. If passed, they would create a mechanism for certain ill and/or aging incarcerated people in Pa. state correctional institutions (SCIs) to petition the Pa. Parole Board for release. The bills also require Pa. Dept. of Corrections staff to help incarcerated people with petitions for release, provide relevant records, notify families of their incarcerated loved one’s terminal medical diagnosis, facilitate quick visitation after a terminal diagnosis, and track statistics about medical and geriatric parole and other items for the legislature to review yearly

Read the FAMM’s Full Bill Summary

Categories
News

Support Guaranteed Basic Income for Interdependence Day!

Today is a day to celebrate interdependence and embrace the truth that no one truly does anything alone. Welcome to the beginning of our new Guaranteed Basic Income initiative – a Softer Landing Fund. 

What is a Softer Landing Fund?

A Softer Landing Fund is a guaranteed income initiative that will distribute recurring cash payments with no strings attached to 10 formerly incarcerated people who are connected with Let’s Get Free. This pilot initiative will last one year and prioritize women returning from long sentences. The initial cohort will be invited to participate by Let’s Get Free’s board and volunteers.

We want to join with the 80 programs across the US in this international practice of distributing cash – no strings attached – to people who need it most.

This project was inspired by the Community Love Fund in Massachusetts led by The National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls and Families for Justice as Healing. We unite with their motivation, “The program is intentionally designed to challenge the racial and economic injustice plaguing families affected by the criminal legal system.”

Why?

We named our project A Softer Landing because even if you have a lot of support coming home from prison it is still very hard. There is the idea that often when you leave prison you enter into “financial incarceration”. You have to pay to be on parole, pay for unnecessary urine tests, face employment and housing barriers from felony status, you may be ordered to pay court and restitution fees and experience exclusion from social welfare programs, and more.

On top of financial obstacles and fees there is the unquantifiable cost of what prison does and the cost of living your life under surveillance. For example, having to get permission to leave the county, having to relive your crime every time you apply for a job or try to rent an apartment. This creates a lot of stress which impacts the health of the body and the mind.

Help us raise $50,000 – our largest community fundraising effort to date!

Against a tan background, a monochrome image is in orange of a Black woman with her hands outstretched and smiling is in the right hand corner. Below her, three Black women in monochrome red are smiling and hugging each other and below that is the face of a Black woman with twists and hoop earrings. She is looking into the distance thoughtfully. The text reads, "Softer Landing Fund. A guaranteed basic income for people coming home from prison. Let's Get Free." On the bottom left there is a thermometer with $50k at the top and green and an arrow pointing to it. The word "donate" and "bit.ly/landsoft" are on the right.

Organizers hope to raise $50,000 for this inaugural fund, distributing a total of $4,320 to 10 people over 1 year in monthly payments of $365.

It costs people in Pennsylvania roughly $30 a month to be on parole – that’s $1 a day for the general supervision charge. We are using this number symbolically as the amount participants will receive and will give an extra $365 on top of the year to spite the accrued annual fee!

May a thousand basic income programs bloom until income is no longer needed to live!

Graphic adapted from original artwork by  Tomie Arai made in collaboration with The People’s Paper Co-op as part of their annual Free Our Mothers Campaign

Categories
Events News

Women Survivors of Injustice: Formerly Incarcerated Women Speak Out at Rowen University

Report by Debbie Davis

Debbie Davis, Cynthia Alvarado, Gladys Scott and Paulette Carrington pictured on March 23, 2022 at Rowan University

On March 23, 2022, New Jersey’s Rowan University hosted by Professor Sandra Joy invited four formerly Incarcerated women, in honor of International Women’s Day, to speak on a panel sharing their stories of “Family and incarceration.” Cynthia Alvarado, Gladys Scott ( the Scott sisters of Mississippi) Paulette Carrington (juvenile Lifer) and Debbie, one of the MOVE 9. These women each told their story of the complexities, fear and rippling effects that incarceration has on families and the long lasting scars it carries. They each also expressed their personal interest in reaching back and doing whatever they can do within their means to help their extended “families”that are still incarcerated. Although scarred themselves they still managed to fill the room with laughter and hope. 

Editors Note: Having not heard of the Scott Sisters before just looked them up on Wikipedia and this is what we found: 

Jamie and Gladys Scott, often referred to as the Scott sisters, are two African-American sisters who were convicted of orchestrating a 1993 armed robbery in Forest, Mississippi, after accomplices made a plea deal. Each sister received double life sentences, This sentence has been criticized as too severe by a number of civil rights activists and prominent commentators on the grounds that the sisters had no previous criminal record and the robbery netted no more than eleven dollars.Their convictions were upheld by the Mississippi Court of Appeals in 1996. The U.S. Supreme Court denied both their petition for appeal in 1997 and an appeal to vacate the conviction in 1998. Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour denied a petition for clemency in 2006. On December 29, 2010, Governor Barbour suspended their sentence on the condition that Gladys donate a kidney to her ailing sister, who was suffering kidney failure and required dialysis. The two women were released from prison on January 7, 2011. They moved to Pensacola, Florida. It is anticipated that they will remain on parole and pay a supervision fee to the state of Florida for the rest of their lives.

Look for this book they wrote called:

The Scott Sisters: Revealing The Truth, Exposing Injustice, and Trusting God (2016)

Categories
News

Pennsylvania Prisoners’ at SCI-Phoenix File A Lawsuit Seeking Parole Eligibility of Life Sentences

by Kevin S. Mines

Mines, K. et al. v. Wolf, T. et al. Docket No. 102 MD 2022
(Filed, March 15, 2022).

Kevin, a black man stands smiling and holding a microphone to his mouth and one hand and papers. He is wearing a white sweatshirt and maroon sweats. There is a table and cymbols behind him.
Kevin Mines, speaking at an event at SCI- Graterford.

Eight (8) Pennsylvania State prisoners at SCI-Phoenix, Kevin S. Mines, Lonnie Wright, James Brown, Charles Sheppard, Kevin Evans, Brian Thompson, Thomas Davis II, and Joel Muir – Petitioners, filed a Petition for Review In the Nature of A Complaint in the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, Seeking Declaratory Judgment and Injunctive Relief on Monday, March 14, 2022, against six (6) Pennsylvania State government officials, Respondents: Tom Wolf, Governor, Josh Shapiro, Attorney General, Theodore W. Johnson, Secretary PA Board of Probation and Parole, George M. Little, Secretary PA Department of Corrections, Jamie Sorber, Superintendent SCI-Phoenix, and Kim Nixon, Supervisor of Inmates Records at SCI-Phoenix.

The lawsuit alleges that each Respondent played an essential role in the prohibition and outright denial of any opportunity for parole eligibility review and consideration of the Petitioners, who are convicted of first degree and second degree murder and sentenced to life. The Petitioners contend in the lawsuit that a judicially imposed, mandatory life sentence, without the possibility of parole (LWOP), is a defacto death sentence (DDS). It violates the Pennsylvania Constitution against cruel punishment, as well as, the United States Constitution and The Universal Declaration of Human Rights Articles.

The Petitioners were sentenced to a term of life, that did not explicitly state “Without-the-Possibility-of-Parole.” Each of the Petitioners filed an application for parole eligibility review and consideration and the Respondents mechanically denied each application for parole, simply stating: “Upon review of your application for parole and the Department of Corrections records of your sentencing, it appears that you are serving a life sentence and are therefore not eligible for parole consideration based upon 61Pa.C.S. § 6137(a).”

Petitioners contends that although 61 Pa.C.S. § 6137(a) contains a provision excepting an inmate condemned to death or serving life imprisonment from parole review, it nevertheless violates Ex Post Facto law and is unconstitutional as it applies to each of the Petitioners because they were never given “fair warning” that their judicially imposed life sentence meant LWOP i.e., DDS. Petitioners further argues that LWOP i.e., DDS is in addition to being cruel punishment, is inhumane.

It deprives Petitioners of all hope, strips them of their rights to redemption, and essentially says that they are incorrigible or incapable of positive transformation and rehabilitation, a judgment made without any consideration of review of the Petitioners individualized circumstances.

Each Petitioner, has empirical proof of their positive transformation and rehabilitation. Each Petitioner is thoroughly rehabilitated. The Petitioners also alleges that the Respondents lack authority to detain them since Respondents do not have legitimate court authorized DC300B Judicial Commitment Form nor Sentencing Order authorizing Petitioners legal detention in state prison. The Respondents are violating the State and Federal Constitution by keeping the Petitioners imprisoned without proper judicial authority. The Respondents did not follow proper procedures and protocol for committing Petitioners to a state prison.

The DC300B form that Respondents used to commit Petitioners into their state prison, were not created by the Judicial Court System, as required by law, but rather, the DC300B form used by the Respondents were created by the Respondents, Pennsylvania Department of Corrections Scribner(s), and therefore, carries no weight of authority.

The lawsuit is filed on behalf of all similarly situated prisoners in Pennsylvania state prisons serving LWOP, i.e., DDS. The Respondents actions are such that no civilized society can tolerate.