For the first time in 19 years, I feel a moment of hope. At age 15, drunk and panic-ridden, I made terrible choices. I took the lives of two innocent men. I was sentenced to life in prison without release. I was told that I was forever unredeemable. I took that to heart; my first decade of incarceration was destructive. I had the mindset that death is a release date. Then I took a step; I asked for help. I enrolled in the Intense Step-Down program, took classes, spent hours with mental health providers and discovered new answers.
Now there’s a tiny light shining in my tunnel — legislation that would remand me back to redemption.
The proposed bill has a way to go, and so I write for myself and 27 others like me. Some reading this will find us defined by our mistakes. For those who believe we are redeemable, please tell your representatives you support HB 1063. This bill would hold juveniles for a minimum of 15 years. After that, we could become eligible based upon our behavior. If we continue to live our mistakes, we remain in prison. Should we decide we’re worthy, within ourselves, and work for a second chance, it may be granted.
Jeremiah J. Gilbert