Life without parole is a primitive concept
I am a pastor dedicated to serving the people of my community, especially those who are and have been incarcerated. I currently work with law enforcement and Illinois Department of Corrections officials to implement programming for residents of our prisons and jails.
Additionally, I lead a team that provides support for family members who have loved ones who are incarcerated. I am a college graduate, an entrepreneur, a husband, a father and also a previously incarcerated man.
I have seen firsthand many stories of transformation and know that change is not only possible, but in many cases it is predictable. Our history is filled with examples of people going on to accomplish great things after making horrible decisions, providing valuable contributions to their communities.
I believe that Life Without Parole (LWOP) is a primitive concept, taking away our ability to assess each situation on a case-by-case basis. Therefore, I support bill SB2333 that would bring back the opportunity for parole to all people who have served 20 years or more.
Life without parole arrogantly suggests that our systems will always get it right and it does not factor for the innocent who get pulled into a flawed system.
Additionally, we have a deeper understanding today about how trauma impacts the mental and emotional development of young people.
If we know that certain environments can damage people and, in many cases, bring the worst out of humanity, then we should be able to discern that environments can also be used to heal people.
If I plant grass seed in a gravel pit and it doesn't grow, can I really determine that the seed is no good? I am not naive to think that all people will take advantage of second chances. I do believe that our systems must be designed to provide those who want a second chance the opportunity for rehabilitation, restoration and positive contribution to the world.
Community Freedom Pastor
Community Christian Church