Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A letter summing up parole fiasco

DATE: 05 May 2010
TO: Dick Verhagen — ERRC Commissioner
FROM: Ronald Schilling #32219 ; OCI
RE: Parole consideration for 2010
Dear Mr. Verhagen:

To my knowledge, it has been quite a long time since you had any input in my case. The last time being a '96 classification decision, where your name was brought up by the FLCI PRC Coordinator along with that of Husz, Leik, and Puckett, while explaining everyone had finally concurred that I should have a "smooth transition" through minimum custody. A detailed explanation of that saga is contained in the enclosures.
My life has been an open book since 13 June 1975. I have spent the last 35 years letting everyone know that I have changed my ways; there is scant little remaining of the individual incarcerated back then. I have changed enough to assure myself that my inappropriate actions could never be repeated under any circumstances. Despite my considerable academic and spiritual advancements, I continue striving to improve myself, my conditions and surroundings, and the conditions of those around me.
From the onset of parole eligibility in 1987, the commission has based the deferment of parole on the same factors; relying on the undefined criteria of "insufficient time/" and "unreasonable risk." Continuing to base each decision on purely static and unchanging factors is not substantiated with evidence or facts supported with reason. In short, there is no valid basis for any decision based on those criteria absent current evidence, especially when all current data suggests a contrary finding.
The passage of time is highly probative to the determination, and reliance on outdated data clearly contradicts all the successful positive adjustments made over the decades.
The sufficient evidence test is not honestly met when relying on the gravity of the underlying offense to support deferment of parole. Under this standard it must be determined whether sufficient evidence exists to support the contention that I pose an unreasonable public safety risk because of the gravity of the underlying offense. The facts of the case do not reasonably support such a finding. The fact that the case involved a vicious knife attack does not, without significantly more, support the finding of current risk. Almost all killings involve vicious acts of some measure during the commission of the offense. The mere existence of a regulatory factor establishing unsuitability does not necessarily constitute "some evidence" that my release would unreasonably endanger public safety. The evidence suggesting the committing offense was vicious cannot eternally provide adequate support for a decision that I am unsuitable for parole.
The Legislature specifically contemplated matters of "sufficient time" and "risk to the public" when setting forth the eligibility criteria for granting parole after a period of 11.3 years. This determination depicts the date where sufficient time is served and risk reduced to where I could be released. They were mindful that the passage of time and the related changes in a prisoner's mental attitude and demeanor are probative of the determination of current dangerousness. When, as here, all of the information supports the determination that I am rehabilitated and no longer pose a danger to public safety, the mere recitation of the circumstances of the underlying offense, absent articulation of a rational nexus between those facts and current dangerousness, fails to provide the required modicum of evidence to sustain parole deferment.
The sentencing judge could have affected a means of frustrating the parole effort had he intended that result. That is, he could have set the sentences consecutive, or applied the maximum terms on each
offense or gone on record with harsh statements concerning release. He did none of these and it can be logically deduced that he intended for me to serve no longer than the mean average length of time on that date, which was 13.6 years for a person with similar sentence. I am currently serving my 35th year of incarceration, and the reasons therefore have never been articulated beyond the unchanging, immutable and static factors, which cannot reasonably be supported, by a fair assessment of the facts and particulars in this matter. There is simply no evidence establishing that I would' pose an unreasonable risk of danger to society. In fact, quite the opposite is suggested from all relevant evidence.
On 10 January 2006,then Parole Chairperson Wells informed all participants of a public meeting that he had granted my case a parole after considering all relevant criteria and determining the record exhibited all the factors listed in the regulations indicating suitability for release on parole. Further, he provided I would be "released in 30 days or sooner." Noted, was my age at the time, the excessive length of incarceration as a model prisoner, and extensive record of rehabilitation including participation in self-help, vocational and educational programs, obtaining plural college degrees, being CPR-trained and saving two lives while incarcerated, having an incredible work ethic and history. Also available for consideration were documents depicting my insight into the circumstances of the offense, my acceptance of responsibility and remorse, and my realistic parole and employment plans. He found no evidence establishing the existence of any other statutory factor relevant to a prisoner's unsuitability for parole. Moreover, all psychological evaluations were uniformly positive, further demonstrating my release would pose no unusual danger to public safety. Unfortunately, and to the utter dismay of those attending the public meeting, he later reversed himself for no valid reason.
His decision to reverse himself runs contrary to statutory and constitutional obligations, and does nothing to negate the circumstances causing him to initially grant my release on parole. The governing statutes and constitutional principles require the granting of parole when there is no valid evidence of current dangerousness. Every relevant factor under any reasoned evaluation suggests there is zero risk I would ever reoffend.
Moreover, other factors establishing suitability support the view chat continuing to defer parole in this matter is not supported by sufficient evidence. I have an exemplary record as a model prisoner, continue to participate in rehabilitative programming specifically tailored to address the circumstances that led to the commission of the offense, including restorative justice, anger management, cognitive intervention/,victim impact training, occupational success/ occupational communications/ many computer technology courses/ personal empowerment, and even completed Ministry credentials, in addition to college-level degrees in Music, Geology, Business Administration and Law. Not one person who knows me understands why I am continually being denied parole.
Accordingly, under circumstances where the files are replete with evidence establishing my utter rehabilitation, and devoid of any evidence supporting a finding that I continue to pose a threat to public safety, it flies in the face of due process to continue reliance upon immutable and unchanging circumstances to deny parole. Those unchanging and static factors of the offense have no predictive value regarding current threat to public safety. Thus, they are insufficient to defer parole.
Emphasis should be placed on a proper review of the evidence concerning current dangerousness or risk to the public. Such consideration was intended by the Legislature to not only guarantee that the decision makers have fully addressed the public safety implications of release, but that honesty, fair play and all due process have been afforded in the individualized assessment of current danger and risk to public safety.
The enclosed thirteen pages of documents offer a truthful arid broad overview of this entire case since 1975. It's a cheap read,really,in light of the wealth of information contained therein — all of which is pertinent to the parole determination. I thank you for your time and consideration of the facts in this matter.
Sincerely, .
Ronald Schilling §32219