Sentenced to life without the possibility of parole, Spoon Jackson wonders if a changed man will ever be given a second chance.
Twice in the last few days I’ve been hit in the head, heart and spirit with the fact that no prisoner has ever had an LWOP (Life without the possibility of parole) sentence pardoned in California. It’s been pointed out to me over and over again that it’s a hundred percent negative trail, a vast waste land and dust bowl. No one in the history of commutation has accomplished that task. There’s an answer of no even before the petition has been filed or read. Like a publisher sending back form letters for unsolicited manuscripts.
I have always known that no LWOP had ever received commutation in the history, and, me being a black man, I have even less chance of getting a pardon. Why am I even writing down my thoughts, my in-custody history and my self-rehabilitation process? Why have I shared and created realness wherever my heart has traveled beyond walls? Why have I changed from that crazy ass youngster who took a life in the late 1970s if all I am going to receive back is a form response letter of no?
There is no pathmaker in the government willing to go against the grain and blaze a new trail and reduce an LWOP sentence to something humane and hopeful. A governor punching a hole in the tradition of not reducing LWOP sentences would disrupt the entire system that says LWOP means LWOP. It would take a governor with the soul of an artist or poet.
The Death Penalty opponents want all people on Death Row to have LWOP instead: a living death sentence. The whole premise of the system is that LWOP means Life in prison without the possibility of parole. Just like about fifteen years ago a counselor at CMC prison made a point of reminding me, after I had told him I had gone to the board after twelve years, that no matter how much I had changed or what I had accomplished or who I am this moment, day, year and century, LWOP means LWOP and “you are not getting out of prison.” The counselor had a fat cat grin on his face. I can see the Death Penalty people smiling beside that counselor fifteen year ago.
One of the creeds of the Death Penalty opponents is that no governor has granted clemency to an LWOP prisoner. Their point being that it’s the one reason they don’t need Death Row. LWOP is living death. A political issue you can kick around like a soccer ball. Do the Death Penalty people really think they are saving lives and doing someone a favor? Do they really believe swapping one kind of death for another is a just and moral cause? Where are the lawyers on the LWOP side? We need you.
Attorneys say the cost to represent me would be steep, and the journey insurmountable, that I have a better chance at walking to the moon than to get a stay of LWOP execution. A guy on Death Row has a better chance than a LWOP of getting their sentence reduced. LWOP prisoners are in the land of limbo, living dead, and that is their reprieve, life and punishment, no rehabilitation, but of course the lawyer will take your money. There is no self rehab steps an LWOP can take to redeem themselves.
Why am I wasting my time getting realness friends and family to write letters on my behalf? Perhaps I’ll be allowed to go back to the board or am I just scribbling out the journey of my heart, soul and spirit for over thirty-six years when all I will get in return is a form letter?
Justice, morality, understanding, forgiveness and humanity not even pondered because the people of power never read the requests in commutation petitions and only stamp and trash-file them. My commutation package is nearly done and people have poured their realness into letters of support on my behalf. So I will finish the process and send the papers to Sacramento.
Dear family, friends and realness people – loved ones across Mother Earth:
I may be just whistling or playing my flute in the dark, where no one else can hear me, but I am asking you to write a letter on my behalf to the honorable governor of California Jerry Brown asking him to commute my LWOP sentence. No LWOP has ever been granted commutation or given a second chance. Thus even if the little light or wave we can create may be like spitting in a pond. Who am I to request a physical second chance? I really don’t like waiting to hear back from a government, a group of people in Sacramento who really don’t know me, and have them decide my fate. Yet, some friends and fellow artists say I must try. So here I am. With basically no expectations, but realness in my heart and walk.
Either way I will keep flowing and keep realness alive even after my last breath. Peace and realness.
Please address your letter to:
Spoon Jackson B-92377
CSP – LAC, A2-231
P.O. Box 4430
Lancaster, CA 93539-4430