Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Three Blind Men

Model prisoner John Benny Williams, second from left, is 83, and has been denied parole over 20 times.
Yahweh brings about justice for the oppressed
    and offers food for the hungry.
Yahweh frees prisoners
     and opens the eyes of the blind.
- from Psalm 146

Buckingham Correctional Center near Dillwyn, Virginia, is housing at least three legally blind inmates with long records of good behavior. Yet they and scores of other deserving persons are being regularly passed over for parole or geriatric release. 

One of them, John Bennie Williams, pictured above, has been incarcerated for over thirty-three years. He has been denied parole over 20 times. A second blind inmate, Minor Junior Smith has been incarcerated over forty-four years. A third one, a Mr. Jeter, has only recently been declared totally blind, but I have no information about his age or condition. However, he is reported to have been a hardworking and dedicated kitchen worker at Buckingham for many years. 

In addition, there are many other sighted persons who are deserving of parole and/or geriatric release at BKCC and other Virginia prisons. Robert Davis Fitchett, Jr, for example, is a model prisoner who was incarcerated at sixteen years of age for a crime he committed nearly forty years ago. Charles Zellers, Sr., another model inmate, has been incarcerated over twenty-three years and has been employed in a responsible supervisory role by the Buckingham Division of Virginia Correctional Enterprises (which generates profit for the DOC) since November, 2006. John Clinton Wright, a highly trusted prisoner who has worked for wardens at the Powhatan Correctional Center for over over thirty years, will turn 89 in November. 

These are only a few of many remarkably rehabilitated men, as their wardens and their supervisors can attest.

Why are we keeping aged and reformed prisoners incarcerated who are demonstrating consistently responsible behavior? Shouldn't we expect a Department of Corrections costing us in excess of a billion dollars a year to actually correct some of the people in their charge?

Here's a link to more posts on parole reform and how to contact the Governor's office, the Parole Board and the Secretary of Public Safety:
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