Let’s Get Free is guided by an advisory board of people in prison. Throughout each year we lean on them for guidance and advice. We asked for members to submit bios and each shared a little bit different. We are slowly putting everyone’s info up.
Terri was brought up in Philadelphia, and has been serving a life sentence since 1991. Read a series of interviews with Terri as a part of the LifeLines project here. This a little bit of how Terri describes herself.
I absolutely love to cook, write, read, and laugh. I love big dogs, blue skies, and watching the seasons change. As the seasons continue to change on my life and the lives around me, I want to know that I am actively doing all I can to change my actions and the outcome of such, so the world around me and at large can be better in some way. For every little bit of success I achieve, we all are safer and happier.
My second degree murder and 24 years does not define the whole of who I am. It signifies what I did, and what I am trying to make amends for.
Contact–> Terri Harper #OB7637 – SCI Muncy
Arthur ‘Cetewayo’ Johnson
Cetewayo is 68 years old. Convicted of homicide and sentenced to life without parole in 1971 when he was 18 years old, Cetewayo soon developed a close relationship with imprisoned members of the Black Liberation Movement. As happened to so many of his generation who took up the struggle for human rights, Cetewayo became a target for severe state repression. Cetewayo was accused of being involved in nine attempted escapes from 1977 to 1987, although several of these were likely fabrications engineered by prison officials.
Ceteywayo spent 37 years in solitary confinement and was finally released in the fall of 2017 with the help of the Abolitionist Law Center. They won a lawsuit against the DOC siting cruel and unusual punishment.
Cetewayo has been instrumental in guidance and encouragement to members of Let’s Get Free beginning in 2018 when he and etta met in a prison visiting room on different visits. His support in our efforts to become a non profit are forever appreciated. Connect –> Arthur ‘Cetewayo’ Johnson #AF3457 SCI- Smithfield
Sheena has been active and supporting LGF for about a year, and has been an active member in the inmate organization at Muncy for much longer. She shares this about why she co-founded the Women Lifers Resume Project:
I was born and raised in North Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and incarcerated on March 20, 1992. I was sentenced to Life Imprisonment on December 16, 1993 for a crime that I committed on May 10, 1991 when I was 18 years old.
For years, we women have watched from the shadows as men applied for and were granted Commutation, as they fought to overturn their convictions and were able to garner support from the outside that we could not imagine for ourselves.
Instead of complaining about it, Brittany and I pondered ways to get women seen and heard. We didn’t want to only be viewed by the worst thing we’d done. We needed people to see that we were trying to redeem and better ourselves and our community. We didn’t want to showcase the pain of incarceration. Instead, we wanted to show we are not the same person that first entered the gates of Muncy so many years ago by displaying our potential and what we could accomplish if given a chance.
Connect–> Sheena’ King #OC2312 – SCI Muncy
Avis is 59 years old. Born in Altoona, PA she relocated to Pittsburgh, PA. She is a co-founder of this organization and has been collaborating with us since the beginning.
Education: ASB Accounting/Business Management, Certified Braille Transcriber, Drug & Alcohol Treatment Peer Assistant, Penn State Master Gardener.Career Mission Statements: ~ Become an Urban Gardener with Grow Pittsburgh a position that would allow me to teach others how to garden and eat “farm to table” when eating “in” and thus improve the health and quality of life for the city’s under-served communities.~ Become a Reentry Coordinator with Let’s Get Free Women & Trans Defense Committee a position where I can help others break down their goals into measurable achievable steps. Hobbies: gardening, cooking, collecting cookbooks, genealogy.
Mind enriching things I read: Ex-offender’s Reentry Success Guide, Becoming Mrs. Burton, The Smartest Guys In The Room the rise and fall of ENRON.
Who had the greatest impact on my life and why? Mother: selfless. Father: proved it’s never too late to make amends. Sister: showed me women can have it all career/family/fun. Business & braille instructor: taught me how to network so funds are donated to worthy causes. Bookkeeper: reminded me to save. Employment officer: taught me how to dress for success. Friends: displays dedication & empowerment.
Words I live by: I’m optimistic. I’ve done a lot to ready myself for reentering the free world. Have maintained family ties & established a strong community support system. A priority for me is education and I will be returning home with marketable skills and training that I didn’t have prior to my incarceration. I’m ready. I’m willing. I’m worthy.
Connect–> Avis Lee #OO6302 SCI- Cambridge Springs
Hi my name is Sarita Miller and I’m going on my 17th year in prison. I’m 51 with three children and three grandchildren. I’m very adamant when it comes to drug addiction and trauma issues. Trauma and drug addiction seems to go hand and hand and I believe that until the roots causes of trauma are dealt with we will never see a significant change in decreasing the population in prisons especially among our youth. I’m a Christian woman and I know without God I would have never made it through these years. I like to participate with the lifers organizers on projects. I’m very thankful for them. If anyone would like to reach out to me I’m more than welcome to responses. Thank you God Bless. You can see pictures of Sarita’s family here. Sarita reached out to us in 2018 and we have been communicating and sharing ideas ever since!
Connect –> Sarita Miller #OJ3158 SCI -Muncy
Kevin Saleem Mines
Saleem has been contributing and advising us since 2016! He has a tremendous record of community participation including serving as President of Lifers Inc. at Graterford and now Phoenix. He has helped in bringing countless conferences and programs to the inside, convening lawmakers, lawyers and concerned groups. Over the years, he has had leading roles in the NAACP prison chapter, as well as, the Grey Panthers. Saleem also serves as a prison advisor for the JUST Listening group.
Connect –> Kevin S. Mines #AY5941 at SCI- Phoenix
Bray Jibril Murray
Most people know me as Jibril. I am 58 years old, originally from the Philadelphia area. In November 1981 I was arrested for the murder of Eric Taylor, and subsequently received a DBI/Life sentence in August of 1982. At the time of this writing (2020) I have been in prison for 38 years. You can read Jibril’s Bio – I am an Alarm Clock which includes an important perspective on forgiveness. Let’s Get Free met Jibril in 2019 through our Let’s Get Smart campaign. He is one of the core thinkers on this project and co-founder of the campaign
Connect–> Bray Jibril Murray #CG-8958 SCI – Dallas
Hi, My name is Amy. I am 48 years old. I have been serving a life sentence from 1993 til now. I have one son (age 30) and five brothers. I am the president of the organization here at SCI-Cambridge Springs called WHO, which stands for, Women Helping Others. I love to cook and plan on going to culinary school when I make commutation. I want to own my own restaurant. I helped train dogs for the CPL program and am whole heartedly THE BIGGEST STEELERS FAN BREATHING. I think it’s an honor to be on the Prison Advisory Board and i will do my part to the best of my ability.
Connect–> Amy Pencille #OC0174 SCI- Cambridge Springs
My name is Charmaine Pfender. I have been in prison for 35 years. I am currently in the commutation process.
I was one of the original 3 women that Let’s Get Free started with. They have fought for me even in times I stopped fighting for myself. I tried everything to gain my freedom and when each one failed, even with the best attorney, and tons of support, I felt more and more hopeless.
When loved ones began to die, when I realized I’d never have kids, it all became so weighty. But, when LGF, CADBI (Coalition to Abolish Death by Incarceration), and FFL’s (Fight For Lifers) all started to make headway, new hope arised in the form of Commutation and House Bills.
Thanks to Break Bread, I learned that we can make new family. Not to replace the ones we lost, but to fill the void left behind.
You can count of LGF. Thank God I have, they kept me going.
The photo is of my mother Donna Hill (left) myself and Elis Lowe (right). I met Elias on a Break Bread visit and consider them my child I could never have.
In Solidarity, Charmaine
Connect–> Charmaine Pfender #OO7423 – SCI Cambridge Springs
Vern is the secretary of Right to Redemption which is part of Lifers Inc – a very active organization at SCI-Phoenix. Vern is an avid writer. In his piece, Awakening which is published on Medium, Vern talks about the closing of SCI- Graterford one of the oldest prisons in the state of PA and the transferring of himself and many others to the new prison, SCI- Phoenix just down the road.
Vern has a facebook page
Connect –> Vern Robinson #CB3895 – SCI- Phoenix
Todd ‘Hyung-Rae’ Tarselli
Todd “Hyung Rae” Tarselli has been in prison for over 27 years. He was sentenced to life without possibility of parole for a crime he committed when he was 17 years old. Born in South Korea, Hyung Rae’s parents died when he was just a child. At the age of 5, he entered an orphanage, where his birthdate was inaccurately recorded as 6-years old, due to a mistake in interpreting cultural age counting. Korean culture considers a child 1-year old on the day of birth while the U.S. does not. This cultural difference in counting age was not properly accounted for during his adoption. Hyung Rae was adopted by an American family in 1980 and struggled to adjust to the new culture, family, environment, and community. In 1992, he pled guilty to a robbery and murder. Because of the age counting error, Hyung Rae was listed as 18 years old and charged as an adult, which severely impacted his life sentence in Pennsylvania.
Hyung-Rae has been in collaboration with some of our members for 20 years and a tireless artist for the movement.
Connect –> Todd Tarselli #BY-8025 – SCI-Forest
During the first 2 years of my incarceration, I was afraid to speak out, fearful of what family, friends and society would think of or say about me. The severity of my crime lived with me every day and continues to do so. I tried to live behind the shadows but, soon realized, hiding was not the answer for my future. I knew I had to start living a life of self-restoration. During the next 14 years, I worked hard to build up my confidence and to understand my self-worth through personal development activities. Now, the woman I am today is not the same person that first walked through the doors of the County Jail and then into SCI Muncy. I have a voice; I am a mentor and an advocate for criminal justice reform.
In 2015, Sheena King, who is also serving a LWOP sentence, and I came up with the idea of the Women Lifers Resume Project to illustrate the accomplishments and reformation of Pennsylvania women serving LWOP sentences. Sheena and I have worked hard to better ourselves and to be mentors for our community members. Our hope is to one day be able to give back to society, using the skills and tools we have acquired and practiced on a daily basis. If given the opportunity, we would like to shed light on how much of an impact we can be in our perspective communities.
Connect–> Brittany Williams #OJ3244 – SCI Muncy
Other board members with info coming soon:
Russell Maroon Shoats