Friday, May 12, 2006

Prison Mis-classification Wastes Billions of Dollars and Many Lives
By Ron Schilling
Re: Prison mis-classification, and billions of dollars in wasted tax revenue

To whom it may concern:

Enclosed please find copies of the following documents:
(note :we have put these in other posts in this blog))
A 4-page letter to the United States Supreme Court clerk, dated 24 April 2003;
a 1-page letter of appeal to the Classification Director, dated 07 April 2003;
a 7-page letter of appeal to the Parole Commission Chairperson, dated 07 April 2003, with the attached 13-page letter addressed to the Assistant District Attorney, dated 17 April 2002;
and a 1-page Social Service Chronological Recording, dated 27 February 2000.

Taken together, they tell quite the saga of prison mis-classification and the resulting collateral consequences.

The Department of Corrections in the State of Wisconsin currently has in place and enforces prison classification rules and parole rules which conflict with one another, making it virtually impossible for prisoners to ever be properly classified and earn their release on parole; a right they retained prior to the implementation of the rules.

A fair reading of the enclosures presents that a clear and unequivocal "catch-22" is created by the rules' combined operation.

If the mis-classification issue were properly addressed it would impact the correctional system on a fundamental level. As the enclosures depict, there is a definite problem with the way the classification and parole rules conflict with one another, forcing every prisoner to serve until their MR, PMR or discharge dates. The matter is made worse for Lifers since they do not have those options to begin with. It ultimately leads to the classic "catch-22" situation where a prisoner cannot be properly classified. Potentially forever.

I have personally been litigating against this precise issue in various State and Federal courts since 1989. After I prevailed in 1990, where the Judge declared the rules to be in violation of the Constitution, I was properly classified until 1998, when DOC began using the rule again. This rule still creates the same effect of the "catch-22" controversy mentioned in the enclosures, and is a designed result of the rules' operation. Consequently, it is the predominant reason for the massive overcrowding in the prison system, needlessly costing the taxpayers many billions of dollars.

Please feel free to use all of the enclosed materials to show concerned individuals exactly what is going on. If someone needs to know more about the technical legal arguments, all of the briefs and pleadings are on file with the court. The federal pleadings are the most refined, and would probably provide the clearest indication of what is happening in Wisconsin.

The short citations and case numbers are thus:
Prison mis-classification Page two.
In the Federal District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, in Madison, Schilling v. Gudmanson, Case No. 98-C-565-C (W.D.WI 2002); In the Federal Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, in Chicago, Schilling v. Karlen, Case No. 02-1982 (USCA7 2002); and
In the United States Supreme Court, in Washington D.C., In re Ronald S. Schilling, Case No. 02-8655 (USSC 20_).

The entire prison industry is not so much a moral failure as it is a designed systemic failure, geared to maintain exploding prison populations and satisfy the requirements for obtaining the billions of dollars in federal grants. Moreover, from a public-safety point of view the system is making matters worse. And from every perceivable angle, it is by design. Can it be turned around? There has to be a commitment to make sweeping changes in the system, but I do not imagine those sacrificial changes coming on their own. The system will not sacrifice itself for the sake of correcting corrections, or doing the right thing for the public good.

In closing, I thank you in advance for any and all attention you can bring to this important matter. Please feel free to contact me personally if you have any questions about any aspect of this matter.
Ronald Schilling

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Letter to parole commissioner Ms. Hackbarth 2004

Ronald Schilling
Box 4000
New Lisbon, WI 53950

Ms. Jayne Hackbarth, Commissioner
Wisconsin Parole Commission
2701 International Lane
Box 7960
Madison, WI 53707-7960

Re: Parole application, file #32219

Dear Ms. Hackbarth:

Let me begin by reiterating how refreshing it was to witness your level of professionalism and sincerity during our interview. I have been before the commission some 18 times and, frankly, this time I was impressed. I actually left the interview with a light heart, and a repaired impression of the commission.

My hopes of penning this letter with a bit better news have - been dashed. The PRC system has manifest shortcomings which are frustrating your efforts to allow me to progress through the system again. I am, of course, referring to the D-ll you rendered in my case to facilitate the return to minimum status. Because of the many PRC failures -- in this instance, the continued and errorneous reliance on the PPI requirement -- the D-ll has been deemed insufficient for a return to minimum status by all levels of the classification apparatus. I will return to this point momentarily.

Be that as it may, I feel our conversation went really well. The only part that left me a tad uncomfortable was your disbelief of definite facts and information concerning my case. Generally, I believe most people are decent, and given correct information, will make the correct choices in life. I view clear-eyed honesty as an amiable trait. And I was totally honest with you about everything.

The nature of my offense cannot be diminished, certainly not by lying. Moreover, I am not a liar. It is a fact that once upon a time I killed, yet I am not a killer. Once upon a time I used and abused drugs, yet I am not an addict, nor do I currently possess any desires for any sort of intoxicants. Once upon a time I acted ignorantly, yet I am not an ignoramus. And when I was young and ignorant I lacked appreciation for the value of truth in.all matters. Nowadays,
however, if anything, I stand accused of being a compulsive truth-teller. Even when it seems to be detrimental to my interests, I would rather deal with the hard truth and learn from it. And this has been -- and continues to be -- my approach to life, including the facts in my case. Certainly I can appreciate how utterly nonsensical it would be to in any way be untruthful to those who hold my entire future in the balance. I flatly refuse to sabotage my future in such fashion.

The letters I authored in explanation of my offense --pointedly, the 07 April 2003 letter to Parole Chairman Wells, and the 17 April 2002 letter to Asst. District Attorney John Burr, were painstakenly truthful and honest. The facts in the record speak volumes for themselves.
Since our interview I have arduously pored over the transcripts in my case to gather the necessary information demonstrating the facts. Affixed hereto are a few pages I typed up from those transcripts; they are verbatim quotes.

Also affixed hereto are numerous documents depicting the administrative failures concerning my proper classification. As you can see, I've written to everyone and tried my best to have the system function properly by honoring your D-ll. The fact that it did not occur testifies to the fact that the system does not function properly, nor has it done so for quite some time concerning my proper classification. The flaws in the system allow for this to occur in perpetuity, with the next recall set at September of 2005.

Understanding the intracacies of the system and looking at the bottom-line State interest, the manifest flaws in all parts of the system mock what should mean most to us. And it sadly indicates what -- even with the current fiscal shortages --the DOC values most. Under the latest incarnation of the rules prisoners have been relegated to a mere numerical consequence. And it's nothing personal but, rather, it's all about the federal fiscal advantages attached to keeping offenders incarcerated as long as humanly possible. It thus allows for the continuation of the Department's unbridled expansion, and that is the bottom line for their every move, including classification and mis-classification.

DOC policies nowadays undermine reasonable judicial expectations and negate the intent of the Legislators, the judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys. They further deny freedom to people who have more than paid for their crimes, and who could be productive, taxpaying members of their communities if given an honest opportunity. If "Truth In Sentencing" is to be more than a mere slogan, the Commission should interpret parolable life sentences as they were intended by the judges who imposed them. In my case the Judge intended for me to serve no more than the mean average length of time in 1975 which, according to statistics, was 13.6 years. I am currently into my 30th year of incarceration.

I only ask to be judged by the content of my character, not some antiquated file; on the content of my character, and not some false-charge conduct reports which were used as a vehicle for my return to medium because of Chairman Husz's under-the-table five-year defer; on the content of my character, and not some bald assertions in a static and unchanging "confidential" file. I am still uncertain which document you alluded to from that file but it sounds hauntingly like some self-serving statement made by a State witness to bolster their case. I have not and will not ever lie to you. Perhaps a step back and a close perusal of the enclosed excerpts from the transcripts will afford us a better running start.

Allow me to suggest that the issue of my proper classification is secondary to having the power to do what is right. Albeit I have never seen it happen, it is clearly within the Commission's purview to grant parole outright, even from a medium security setting. The fact that it may have never happened before should not prevent it from occurring now in a situation such as this.
I believe that correct tactics flow from correct strategies, which flow from a correct ideological and political line. The correctness of the ideological or political line decides everything, and when it is correct, then everything will come its way. The following proposal is ideologically correct, and has been unrecognized far too long for reasons out of step with that correctness.

I am proposing an experiment of sorts; that is, to parole me now, from medium custody, and allow me to prove my overall worthiness to function perfectly and flawlessly in society. I do understand and appreciate the usual need for most prisoners to transition through a minimum setting to obtain work and acquire a little financial stability and demonstrate some responsibility. Wisconsin's progressive security classification system was actually designed to permit a smoother transition from the dependency of prison to complete freedom and earlier release from incarceration under conditions designed to test the prisoner's capacity to "make it on the outside." Such social reintegration was designed for all prisoners with such a need. However, I am already in-great shape with this regard, and do not require such time to
acclimatize prior to release.

To me, this proposed release plan does not present much of an experimental base. To be sure, it will present a marvelous challenge. But, given my parole plan, stable housing, transportation, financial support, the support of loving and caring Christian friends, my vast education, experience and considerable talents, I don't believe for a second I could possibly fail. I wouldn't even attempt making this offer if I didn't believe in it with all my heart; I am fully confident we could accomplish this successfully. Moreover, I want to demonstrate through my success the prospect that long-time lifers are the most well-behaved, well-prepared and worthy individuals to be reintegrated back into society. I want the Commission to be able to use my example for many years to come.

As you are aware, I have already served various stints inminimum settings, and was entrusted even to the extent oftravelling 17 miles from the center without staff escort andentering private homes for Bible study. It awakened therepentance that restored hope in my heart. And I reiteratethat each and every time I presented myself most judiciouslyand conducted myself with the utmost respect for all peopleand adhered to each and every rule. In sum, I really do notrequire more time in a minimum setting; I would function justfine at home. .

I would like to close by saying that the notion of freedom represents the nobelest of aspirations. I can easily live up to the "go forth and sin no more" standard. No valid penological objective or moral social purpose is being served by my continued incarceration. You have the power to parole the trustworthy. I really am trustworthy, and parole-worthy. I am asking for one honest opportunity to set a positive example through my every action so others will benefit from this experiment.
Thank you for your time and consideration of the above.
Ronald Schilling#32219cc: file .

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Letter to Assistant District Attorney 2002

John R. Burr April 17, 2002
Assistant District Attorney
523 City-County Building
210 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Madison, WI 53703-3342

Re: ruminations on life, and potential parole consideration

Dear Mr. Burr:

Since I became parole eligible in 1987 I have read each of your letters opposing parole. While such communique seemed understandable in the beginning, and even fair in the interests of justice and societal concerns, it is obvious to anyone familiar with me and the current situation that such opposition is not only without basis but is unwarranted. Please bear with me here because I have a great deal to divulge about the past, the present and the hopeful future.

To begin with, I want to stress that I hold no animosity whatsoever against you or the justice system. In fact, I have a lot of respect for you as a prosecutor, and have developed quite a healthy regard for the evolution of the laws of our nation as well. Additionally, I would be the last one to debate that I needed some time in prison. Albeit purely on legal grounds I have taken issue with the legal methods and procedures used, I have to acknowledge it was the only way to affect justice.

Moreover, I have become a fervent believer and Born Again Christian. Most find it difficult to believe when I say that I would not trade the last 27 years for anything; that is, I would rather be found in prison with my knowledge and understanding of God and Christ than to be lost on the streets as I was. Personally, I cannot thank you enough for the opportunity.

I suspect that since this case was some 27 years hence, this would be the most logical explanation for the many errors and discrepancies in your annual letters to the parole commission. Inasmuch as the truth in this matter has never come to light, I feel there are some significant points which need to be divulged and expressed in meaningful terras. For me, in many respects it seems like yesterday that I began this sojourn through the system. Yet in greater measure, it seems like another lifetime; the personal changes have been that vast and complete.

As regards the case itself, given your limited knowledge of what actually occurred, and the obvious legal ramifications of acknowledging same, I will just put the facts out there for posterity's sake and let the chips of fairness fall where they may.

As you know, I, was arrested 13 June 1975 and ultimately convicted of intentionally killing Michael Posthuraa during a drug deal. My two co-defendants (Robert Zelenka and Thomas Stanton) were also convicted of this same offense. I was never allowed to attempt testifying to the facts, and my co-defendants were Constitutionally precluded from doing so. The clever manner in which the entire trial was hinged together prevented the truth from coming to light.

I was convinced by counsel not to plead guilty to the offense because 1 was not at that point fully assured of my degree of involvement, but I knew I had not committed the offense as charged; I am referring to the lack of the "intent" element. During the interrogation, when the Detective said my fingerprint was found on the victim's wallet (which turned out not to be the case), was the first moment I intuitively felt I had probably been involved in something horrendous, but I still was not certain to what degree.

As you also know, I used to suffer grand mal epilepsy and, on the day in question, suffered quite a bad seizure. The periods following such seizures were frequented with post-ictal confusional states, where I was for the most part totally disassociated from reality. At the time of the offense I was in such a state, despite the allegations you presented at trial. The information I have about the entire offense has come from speaking with my co-defendants and from the coroner's report,etc. I have developed a fairly clear indication of my personal involvement in the offense as well as the testimony of the coroner stating Michael probably would have died from the blows to his head even without the knife wounds.

Stanton began attacking Michael after a heated argument. He picked up a ballpean hammer which was laying in the back of Michael's van and hit him in the head with it as it was explained to me, once offensively,and twice defensively. Directly after that, Stanton placed a knife in my hand and a split second following that Michael grabbed me from behind with a bearhug. I responded quite explosively, stabbing him repeatedly. The expert witness testimony described this action as predictable for someone in a post-ictal confusional state who was being restrained in such a manner. I believe it is called "reactive psychosis." And, my God, that was not intended either.

I don't know how else to say it, this was not an intentional homicide. It's not like I was laying in wait for him to grab me from behind. He was supposed to be beaten-up, nothing more; not hit with a hammer, not stabbed with a knife, and certainly not killed. What is more, it is not the same to say Michael was innocently preyed-upon; he was a known drug-dealing felon who was in the process of perpetrating a felony when he was killed. And for what it's worth, it was he who initiated the violence against me, and not the other way around. To be sure, Michael did not deserve to die, nobody does, but I have certainly and dearly paid for it. The bottom line is, we all made bad choices that fateful day. God, we were all so young and ignorant; ignorant of the laws of our own nature, and completely oblivious to the youthful indiscretions leading us all into the circumstances of the offense.

You have repeatedly made mention in your letters that I have shown no remorse for my actions. God certainly knows that is not anywhere close to being true. As stated above, during the interrogation I was slowly entering the throes of the epileptic condition I suffered back then, and could not fully appreciate what was going on much less the gravity of what actually did occur or, moreso, my participation in it. Even then I knew on an intuitive level that the only thing to do was nothing. I found myself in an utterly helpless situation and did nothing but to allow the vital connection with Christ. I prayed, I shook and struggled to keep from yielding to the epilepsy. And,no, at that point I don't suspect I showed much remorse; I was still trying to rationalize what possible role I played in the offense. I didn't know at that point in time.
And whether you were aware of it, or not, during the trial I was barely clinging to life itself. After being held in a prescribed narcotic straightjacket for eight months, I was then yanked off all medication cold-turkey just prior to trial. I did not have a clue what was actually occurring during trial. I knew I was attending a trial but I was not able to appreciate what was actually going on. For this reason, I was not able to show any sort of emotion, or remorse, or do much else beyond sitting there drooling on myself and fighting the natural urges to heave my guts out. I am certain I must have appeared quite insensitive to everything at that point.

I guess what I am driving at here is that I am not some homicidal lunatic incapable of feeling. The reality of my situation is that I do not use drugs, do not participate in riots, have not been in even one fight this entire time, and am even responsible for saving two lives with the Heimlick maneuver while in prison. In short, I am a model prisoner, if there is such a thing, and do not participate in any activities which are not conducive to my progress through and eventual release from the system. I am a conscientious and peace-loving individual who would not knowingly harm a fly. I step over worms and ants, brake for frogs while mowing the lawn, and if I catch an insect indoors I always try to take it outdoors to freedom. 1 have always been this way,and strive to instill that respect for life in others as well. My offense was totally out-of-character for me. It would not have occurred absent any one of a number of circumstances which, in hindsight, occurred in a most bizarre sequence.

It is difficult to express the horror and shock of discovering during a 36-hour barrage of interrogation that I had been involved in whatever capacity with the taking of a human life. I went through many years of devastating inner guilt, remorse, shame and utter disgust over what I had allowed myself to become involved with.

But even though I still live with the nightmare of it all, I have managed to grow beyond it. I have grown to appreciate both sides of what the deprivation has to offer and have made the best of it. Additionally, through considerable research I have come to understand the root cause of my epilepsy and have successfully dealt with it without medications, and without seizure since '77. I have also grown to more fully appreciate how precious life is, the whole of life, as well as my place in it- It has brought me to the inevitable conclusion that when people know more about what is wrong they can do more to make it right.

Having also discovered how preci'ous time itself is, I have strived to make the most judicious use of it. Prior to the Legislature nixing the Pell Grants, I managed to claim plural college degrees. My college professors have written glowing letters to the parole commissioner informing them of my 3.66 GPA, and how "contagiously cheerful" I am. They can see that I follow the light of God at every turn, and that makes me perpetually happy. Even my Social Worker added to my parole plan: "Mr. Schilling has a keen mind and a good heart. If he is not a successful candidate for restoration to the community, then no one on my caseload could possibly be." I faithfully stand bared before God, knowing my transgressions in the light have been forgiven and healed. I have learned and come to understand so much of life that I could not have possibly understood if on the streets. I generally believe the greater understanding offenders have of the actual "costs" of their offense, the less likely they are to reoffend. Ergo, when people know better they generally do better. It has brought me a clearer understanding of how crime attacks the nature of community, and general feelings of connectedness. These are issues most offenders are not even aware of much less able to critically contemplate and afford practical application to in their lives. To be sure, crime does not just "happen;" there are environmental and sociological factors that are undeniable predictors of offensive behavior. At the same time, being aware of those human dynamics can be a useful tool in eliminating that offensive behavior.

I have subsequently been afforded a perfect opportunity to make serious reformations to my character, changing traits, perfecting talents, and reflecting upon my spiritual evolution through God's grace. Prison has afforded the valuable time to introspect and deeply humanise my offense in ways few other experiences could. It has been a substantial and honest effort at redeeming myself; mind, body and Soul. In short, I have used the last 27 years of monastic introspection wisely, and am pleased at having been afforded an opportunity to perfect myself in such fashion.

What is perplexing to me is that of the three of us imprisoned for this offense I was probably the least culpable,responsible because of the seizure I suffered just prior to the incident. I was the only one who, in the words of my co-defendant, was "just along for the ride on that day* (because of my post-ictal state). Yet Zeleaka was paroled on 05 June 1992 , and Stanton has been at minimum custody for quite some time now.

After prevailing in a certiorari action challenging the prison classification rules in 1990, I was finally able to have my classification reduced to minimum custody on 29 May 1992. I was
then allowed to drive from the institution unescorted to work at the gun range quite some distance from the institution. We would also maintain cemetery plots, cut grass and prune trees outside of the institution. On 7/21/92 I was first transferred to minimum custody at JCBCC after serving nearly 17 years of incarceration, and just after Zelenka was released on parole. I
worked at the State garage as a mechanic, working on and test-driving various vehicles daily. On 8/12/92 I was transferred to GCC, where we would travel in excess of 50 miles
from the camp for work in the neighboring counties, going to Solon Springs and Marshfield for medical appointments, and to Hayward for dental appointments. On 10/15/92 I was taken out of GCC and placed in the county jail drunk tank through no action on my part; ostensibly because I was somehow deemed an "escape risk." On 10/28/92 I was returned to GCC because the alleged risk was unsubstantiated. On 9/15/93 I was again taken out of
GCC and placed in the county jail through no action on my part; again, ostensibly as an "escape risk." This was, of course,despite the fact that I was presented with virtually thousands of "opportunities to escape; cars with keys in them, loaded guns- during hunting season, people frequently stopping for directions or information.

Regardless, I was subsequently transferred to medium custody at FLCI on 10/7/93. After considerable haggling with the classification folks in Madison, on 5/11/94 I was transferred to minimum custody at QCI, where I was immediately placed in segregation for some 16 days through no action on my part before being returned to FLCI on 5/27/94, again/ ostensibly as an "escape risk." These return transfers were made without any misconduct on my part and absent any conduct reports (CR) or due process.

Some time later I discovered a "written memo" from John Husa to the folks at GCC stating that I would not be considered for parole for some "five years" (tantamount to a five-year defer) despite the fact that ray PCA form only depicted a 12-month defer. Hence, the real reason for being transferred back to medium three times finally came to light. I also discovered a letter from Husz in 1996 to the folks at FLCI stating that he was going to get "25 years" out of me, which was tantamount to a four-year defer at that time, putting my true FED at 2000.

Shortly after the 1996 letter I was transferred to JCI for a guaranteed "smooth transition" through minimum at BRCC. I was transferred to BRCC on 10/10/96, and worked ott the same sort of crew as I did at the GCC facility. I then accepted a job here, at JCI/ working in the garage out front. We would drive through Black River Falls twice a day to drop off work-release prisoners. And on one occasion I even attended an evening play at the high school in Black River Falls. On 2/3/97/ out of the blue/ I was issued a false-charge CR. . I was then returned to JCI and placed. in segregation. On 2/19/97 I was transferred to minimum at MCC, where the work crew would travel many miles to work at various locations in the community. I was also allowed to attend church in Rhinelander/ many miles from the camp without staff escort. Again/ I was issued another completely bogus false-charge CR and returned to JCI on 7/25/97. The proof of the "false-charge" allegations lies in the paper trail; that the classification process was initiated prior to the CRs even being written.

The above situations are well-documented and speak for themselves. On each occasion at minimum I was valued for working harder than 10 men. I abided by each and every rule/ and towed the line beyond what ever was expected of me. I enjoyed being afforded an opportunity to prove my worthiness for parole, the increased trust and latitude of freedom and being treated equally by members of the community. On each and every occasion, though, my best efforts were sabotaged by opposition from the parole commission. And despite their repeated assertions that they do -not—place a great deal of weight in letters opposing parole, it
is quite obvious the contrary is true. Your comments, especially, carry tremendous weight and influence not only with parole determinations but the decisions made pertaining to classification as well. It can effectively prevent a person's rightfully-earned classification and progression through the system.

In your most recent letter to the parole commission you alluded that the reason I have served so much time "is at least in part due to (my) inability to abide by the rules and regulations of the institution. " For the record, the only rule infractions I've received of late were for things like rinsing my socks in the shower after a workout, which is technically not even a rule violation, yet I accepted the summary disposition of 10 days loss of gym- Because of the fact that I do not violate known rules, writing a CR on me these days is like bagging a 10-point buck for the DOG officers. It's kind of humorous, actually. The fact is I have become profoundly self-disciplined and hold myself to a much higher standard of conduct than what is required by DOC; it is a very stringent line of acceptable conduct that allows for very little deviation. What I am asserting here is that the true reason I have served so much time is not through any action on my part. My behavioral standards do not add to the complexity in this case.

What does add even more complexity to this entire scenario,and rightfully so, is the fact of William Cook's death. As you recall, he was also killed some time later in Iowa County. You have written in the past that I "went free for that murder" (1997), and that I "escaped responsibility" (1998), but neither is actually true. I have learned and accepted that there is no escaping responsibility in God's light. Yet, I was indeed legally acquitted in the Cook case. I never felt particularly good about that, either; it's not like anybody won something in that case. For the record, I have always accepted responsibility because I feel if Michael had not died, my co-defendants would probably not have killed Cook. At this point I am not exactly certain what transpired with the Cook tragedy; the only information I have was provided by my co-defendants. Apparently, Zelenka felt Cook had to be silenced, took him in the woods and shot him with his friend's handgun. As you know, he was also acquitted. I was told I was present at the scene but I could not swear to it. I had no control over the situation, their actions, certainly not my actions. I was not coherent and was "just along for the ride" at that point.
The situation being what it is, I realize the loss on both sides of this case; losing my Wife, my Son, my Daughter, our home, business, as well as all the family members and friends who have died since I was incarcerated, the loss has been tremendous on part as well. It has resulted in the total relinquishing of all physical aspects of my life. And it forced me more into the spiritual realm to grasp the enormity of it all. It forced my eyes open to the bigger picture, and to God. The process of being Born Again from above required the total surrender and letting go of all things physical; all pretence, which caused me to look even higher. I believe there is no other way to lay hold to God while in the physical realm.

I have made tremendous progress with this regard over the years, and continually find more aspects of my physical self that need relinquishing. What I am pleased to discover is that as the old goes by the wayside, the new creation is so wonderfully brilliant that I'm surprised I hadn't missed it long ago- And I'm also finding that this is a continuing and ongoing process; that is, no matter how far 'there' I might believe I am, there is always something that can bring me further into God's light. It is astounding at times to find that I am continually being reduced in such fashion.

What is also amazing is that I cannot imagine one person who has not at some point yielded to things in life which later proved to be to their detriment and sometimes the detriment of others as well. This place is an excellent laboratory full of examples of those who have transgressed societal norms. It is sometimes part of the growing process. Personally, I am still growing and learning. We all are. God is still teaching me there is no power in the human soul of Itself sufficient to break the bondage of whatever dispositions we have formed by yielding to this or that influence in life. The first thing I had to do in examining the power that dominated my particular situation was to take hold of the rather unwelcome fact that I was responsible for being so dominated. An example might be as simple as being selfish as a child, and seeing how that in turn leads to an enchaining tyranny later in life. The same dynamic is at play, I suppose, being exposed to violence early-on, war, drugs, and an adversarial nature prone to litigation. I have discovered that breaking the bondage of those prior dispositions first requires the acceptance of responsibility in order to relinquish it. I thank God for letting me grasp responsibility for all of my actions.

In grappling with the loss from the families of the victims, I have placed myself in their shoes many times over, imagining what it would be like to lose a child in such horrendous fashion. Where could I possibly begin to express my sorrow for taking their sons' lives? Merely vocalizing it would be woefully inadequate. I do not expect them to ever forgive, actually. Personally, even being Born Again with a full understanding about the physical and spiritual tenets of forgiveness, I would be hard-pressed to blindly forgive such a grievous event. I have seen that occur on occasion through various Restorative Justice efforts, and have witnessed the enormously beneficial effects it can have on both sides dealing with the pain and suffering. But I doubt I could forgive such an offense without .knowing the offender had genuinely changed and redeemed himself not only to a point of genuine remorsefulness for the offense and the pain caused to everyone, but also to a point where the offense could never occur again. In such a situation I feel forgiveness would be warranted. This was my first priority, and I am confident with the many changes it took to assure myself of that.

What saddens me the most, even beyond my own personal loss, is the wretched story the victims' families have had to live with for the past 27 years. The spin on the story presented to the media, that their sons were killed in cold-blood "purely for profit" (which was not the case) still to this day causes them to suffer great pain/,as their letters to, and face-to-face meetings with the Parole Commission will bear out. And while I do believe William Cook was killed in cold blood, the same cannot be said for Michael. I feel if both families knew the truth about the whole ordeal (what happened, how,why) they would most probably discover a change of heart which, I believe, would inevitably ease their pain and suffering. For good reason I believe God has been working in this arena as well.

My perception of what we generally accept as "coincidence" has developed over the years to the belief that it is but a mere lack of vision. There have been many marvelous circumstances of "coincidence" that cannot be adequately explained absent the hand of God. Just by coincidence I happened to view the Restorative Justice segments on Nightline, appropriately entitled "A Justice That Heals/" which aired 25-26 October 2000. It featured my Uncle, Fr. Robert H. Oldershaw, who facilitated the rather miraculous RJ efforts featured in that presentation. Since then we have been contemplating a victim-offender conference meeting in my case. Through our visits and personal correspondence we have been going over the particulars of the case and trying to come to terms with the uniqueness of the situation this case presents. He is admittedly not a RJ expert, and we are not quite sure how to proceed with this matter. We, and many others, have been praying on it for quite some time, and have made inquiries to various RJ organizations for guidance and/or assistance. First and foremost, I am apprehensive because I do not want to cause one more iota of grief to the families in this matter. Admittedly, pulling this matter to the surface all over again could be tedious, at least, and needs to be done softly. To my knowledge neither of my co-defendants participated in any sort of RJ program. If the RJ process is or can be accomplished in this matter, it appears it will be on my shoulders to bring the matter into the light and afford some semblance of peace to the hearts of the families. I would graciously honor any opportunity to lessen their pain
I have a strong feeling that something needs to be done; God would not have touched this many people with so many "coincidences" if it was not meant to be. Frankly, it would not surprise me to learn that the victims' families have also been touched in some new way. Time will tell. Until then, I will continue praying on the matter. Of course, any suggestions you might want to share concerning the RJ efforts would be greatly - appreciated.

To allay your concerns about my "mental state," as mentioned earlier, I have quite successfully dealt with all of my problems. I have been totally seizure-free since 1977, through the removal of every known seizure irritant and the use of Yoga/ meditation, prayer and exercise. What is more, prior to any lifer being transferred to minimum custody, there must be an extensive and favorable Clinical evaluation. Given the yo-yo routine I've experienced with minimum classification, I have undergone a number of evaluations which have all been quite stable and positive. It seems really unfair to twist my past "illness" into fodder for negative comment, if that is indeed all it was.

Few would argue that rehabilitation and the notion of true repentance used to be central to the philosophy of "corrections." Similarly,few could argue that such ideals have suffered tremendously as the prison industry continues its unbridled expansion. The retributive model of criminal justice, the purely putative warehousing of offenders evidences a system more interested in vengeance than justice. It serves no valid sociological or penological interest to continue punishment after the rehabilitative operation has run its course. Moreover! I feel it would be a better design to have the system function in concert with social concerns, with a resolution of the entire problem of crime in mind, and not merely focusing on the symptoms of crime. To operate the system in the current irresponsible fashion allows for it to continue failing societal objectives, and actually fosters increased recidivism, adding to an already overburdened and dysfunctional system. I guess what I am suggesting here, is that once a person has demonstrated a true change of heart and nature and shown his worthiness for parole, he should not be denied or deferred for purely static and unchanging historical factors.

I truly feel the best that can come from this situation at this juncture is to secure a "just" resolution in light of the complete transformation made to my being. Clearly, I am not even close to being the same person I was 27 years ago. Through my earnest prayer for so many, many years God has already dictated that such a strong spiritual conviction come home; that my utter transformation has been"justified." Whether 1 spend my few remaining years in prison is really inconsequential to the bigger picture; if it is God's will,let it be done. However, I have strong feelings God has greater plans for me, probably through the music ministry. I feel so fortunate to be gifted with such an extraordinary talent for writing and performing Christian songs. I am confident that I will have another and properly focused opportunity at life. I have faith that it will occur with Godspeed.

My future intentions are to succumb to the calling of God in no small measure with music ministry. I am an accomplished and published musician,guitarist, singer, songwriter,composer. I have compiled thousands of Christian songs over the years, many of which I have tried out on the congregations at various institutions and public churches when I was allowed to do so at minimum, and they were all well-received. There is a powerful message that needs to be spread, and I've found the music medium is an incredibly effective means of accomplishing that. This endeavor will doubtless occupy a huge part of my future; I could easily devote my remaining years to the service of God. Additionally, I plan to immerse myself in various restorative justice projects that are already underway; I feel my personal experience has a great deal to offer in this area. Prison reform is another area of interest where I feel my experience would prove valuable. I plan to give quite a lot of myself back to society upon release; it feels like what God will have me do, and that works just fine for ine.
I would be remiss not to share my sentiments on how inherently wrong it is to maintain a myopic view of the static and unchanging past without due consideration to the present arid future. It seems societal interests are being ignored in this case by requiring me to remain a tax-burden rather than the law-abiding tax-payer everyone who knows me is confident I will be. This is becoming more true each day given the fiscal shortages and the systemic problems of massive overcrowding.
As mentioned in the opening page, I have a great deal of respect for your skill as a prosecutor. Likewise, I have a reverential respect for Judge Torphy's decisions in this matter as well. I have oft contemplated the intent of the sentence structure imposed in this case when imagining just how much time he actually intended for me to serve. To be sure/ if it was his intent to frustrate any parole efforts in this case he could have affected a different sentence structure to reflect that. For instance, he could have given me the maximum term for the robbery conviction, or he could have run the sentences consecutive, etc. That fact that he did not, I believe, reflects hia intent that he did not intend for me to do store than the mean average length of time at the time of sentencing.

As you are doubtless aware, at the time of sentencing in this case, the Legislature had set the eligibility for a life sentence at 11.3 years; for me, that point arrived in 1987. Pursuant to DOG statistical bulletins/ the mean average length of time served on a life sentence 27 years ago was averaged at 13 years; that is to say, absent extenuating circumstances such as bad conduct/ etc./ a lifer was paroled on average in 13 years. Unfortunately, for a number of reasons that mean average has steadily risen over the years. Despite this fact, I have read about truly gruesome murders with the most heinous intent,sicko-sex murderers, multiple cop-killers, who were convicted after ray offense/ but who have been released for some time now. I do not mean to diminish the seriousness of this offense but,Christ, when is enough, enough? What makes my particular offense so inordinate and worthy of such disproportionate punishment? Many people who know me well, prisoners,staff and members of the public, feel that I have more than satisfied jay obligation of time. Of course, I happen to agree with them, and feel that deference to 'Judge Torphy's wisdom and intent of the sentence structure he imposed would be appropriate.

Over the years I have had occasion to speak with a number of Michael's friends and relatives concerning all aspects of the offense. There were quite a few of them employed by DOC as prison guards when I arrived at Waupun; his friends, his cousins, and even the WCI Security Director was his Uncle, who now sits as an alternate on the parole commission during times of increased workload. I needn't say that the first few years in Waupun made for some tense tiroes in the beginning. In recent years I have expressed my remorse to them and explained my own personal transformations. They were not only glad to have had the opportunity for the dialogue going both ways but were pleased with having witnessed the reformation of my entire being, being nothing short of miraculous. They are also puzzled by the length of time I have served, not only because of the manifest rehabilitative efforts on my parti but because they are also familiar with the incredible number of lifers who were sentenced after me and yet, released before me. They ""question "'the propriety"" of my continued incarceration based on the knowledge that it
serves no valid sociological or penological interest to prolong incarceration in a situation like this.
More and more people are applying the desideratum that there is a spiritual means of resolving every problem, both in our personal lives and in our collective lives. I've come to believe'that as we change our thoughts and change our expectations, we also change our world. Personally, I no longer feel bonded to the wounds of the past because after embracing and learning from it, I have given up my personal history, leaving the past in the past. I have merged beyond the illusion and into a clearer understanding. As Albert Einstein once said,"You cannot solve a problem with the same mind that created it." Ancillary to this basic tenet, I feel that recognition of, and reward for, one's effort lies at the heart of the human condition. Failing to account for that would be antithetical to the notion of responsible justice. The incredible potential for humans to change and grow should not be ignored.

One more point before I conclude. I feel it is worthy of your notice and consideration that I am soon to be married. A few years back God blessed me again and placed the most wonderful Christian woman in my life. She is a strong Christian, honest, kind, principled, and a hard working woman. She owns her home in Kenosha (where I plan to parole one day), and has life-long ties in her community. She devotes huge amounts of time to her Church and related activities, organizing charitable events, organising and singing with the choir, teaching Sunday school, and otherwise laboring for our Lord. Moreover, I strongly feel our collective efforts in the future will be for the service of God's work. We both feel a calling to music ministry, and we're really fired up about it. My fiancee is incredibly supportive and keeps me focused on our service to God, and I feel she will be enormously influential in keeping me focused on the streets as well. This is what God will have us do.

In closing, I pray the above sheds additional light on your view of the tragedy which transpired back on 09 June 1975- I also pray that the foregoing will allow for some insight into what I'm really about/ and hopefully cause you to view this situation a bit more compassionately, and with the same level of dignity and grace you would desire in the same circumstance. I thank you for your time. God bless.
Ronald Schilling

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