Monday, January 24, 2011
Peace in The Waking World
Dear Friends and Loved Ones,
Our earlier message, in which we provided the address for the California parole board and the name of its chairman, was intended for those among you who might be inclined to write a letter protesting the manner in which my parole hearing last month was conducted. I would not presume to suggest that you write such a letter. We provided the information simply by way of opening an avenue for expressing directly to the chief of parole hearings the disappointment, frustration, critical opinions, indignation, dismay, etc., regarding the hearing that many of you have expressed in writing to me.
Some of you have written to ask for guidance in writing a letter to the parole board. To that I would say, simply, write whatever is on your heart to say . . . or not, as the case may be. Nothing you say to that agency in a letter can do me harm, so, if you write one, be fearless.
I can certainly relate to the frustration and dismay many of you have expressed. To be confronted, after all these years, by such obstinate refusal to examine with honesty and integrity the evidence of my 41 years prison history, and the progression to the mature understanding of my responsibility that it represents, makes the hearing I recently experienced almost completely incomprehensible. The level of prejudice was beyond the pale. That the presiding commissioner would prevent me (twice, in two consecutive hearings) from making a closing statement that would demonstrate my having come to terms with the full magnitude of my responsibility to the man whose life I took and everyone affected by my actions, 41 years ago, makes a mockery of the very definition of a parole hearing.
A transcript of the hearing would be helpful in conveying to you a better sense of what happened. Unfortunately, the hearing record won’t be made available until after the decision in the hearing becomes final. By that time the outside chance that letters might have some influence on the final decision will have passed. The best I can offer is my assurance that what I have related to you is accurate.
There were no holes in the presentation that was prepared for the hearing. This included a comprehensive history of educational, vocational, and insight development programs I’ve availed myself of, all of the work that I’ve done over the years, as well as personal creative endeavors, and long-term involvement in youth outreach. The numerous letters of support from family, friends, citizens of the world community, and corrections officials, included solid employment offers and affirmed residences in two states. There were no new misconducts, and in fact a disciplinary report that had been an issue in the previous hearing had since been expunged from my record in the interest of justice. Since the previous hearing I had even added a couple of new college courses to my resume.
All of this was lost on the presiding commissioner and his assistant. They were obviously more interested in using my hearing to take a remote swipe at Manson, with references to crimes I was in no way involved in, and could not have been involved in, than in giving me a fair hearing on the merits of my own case history.
So, yes, there are some significant reasons for all of us to feel some frustration and dismay at this juncture.
Don’t hesitate to put you views and feelings into writing, if you are inclined to do so. Here, again, is the address:
CDCR – Board of Parole Hearings
ATTN: Robert Doyle, Chairman
P.O. Box 4036
Sacramento, CA 95812-4036
The problem with California’s parole board, it seems to me, is that over the past couple of decades it has increasingly become insulated in the state’s political morass. It won’t hurt the people involved in that agency to be reminded by private citizens – including you citizens in other countries – of the principles they were appointed to uphold.
I was a bit surprised by the resounding response to the reservations I had expressed in my earlier message, in regards to writing my book. Many of you wrote words of encouragement, for which I am grateful. Be assured that I am empowered with fresh resolve to devote my energies to whittling away until the book has fully taken shape, without getting hung up in where the chips may fall. There is a story that must be told and (as more than one of you said) there isn’t anyone else who can do it. Doing what is the right thing to do with dedication to the highest principle naturally means letting go of concerns about perceptions or possible outcomes. Damn the torpedoes!
Peace in the waking world, peace in dreams, peace in the deepest level of being.