Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Parole Fiasco and Ron Schilling

Ron with daughter

" 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!"
Quote by Penny Adrian, Ron's Social Worker at Jackson correctional Institution-written in support of his parole bid in 2000.

Ron Schilling's Story
Ron was involved in a marijuana drug deal that went bad. The facts around this case are chilling. Ron was on a destructive road and admits now that prison probably saved his life and forced him to change. He has taken every available program, has gotten many degrees, and become an excellent litigator. He has shown himself to be responsible and kind. His spiritual life is at the center of his conscious existence. He has friends and backing for when he is released, is multi -skilled and talented and should do well.

In January, 2006, a group of prison activists met with parole chairman Lenard Wells, who promised that Ron Schilling would be out of prison "by the end of the month. We are asking you to read his story and join us in the effort to give this man a chance in the free world. He has been in prison for more than thirty two years, far longer than most prisoners with similar sentences.

The Crime: Here is Ron's description of the killing from a 2002 letter by Ron to John R. Burr, Assistant DA.

"As you know, I was arrested 13 June 1975 and ultimately convicted of intentionally killing Michael Posthuma 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 council not to plead guilty to the offense because I was not at the 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 still I was not certain to what degree.

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 the trial. The information I have about the entire offense has come from 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 would probably 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 on 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 'brief 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 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, he was the one who instigated 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 young and ignorant; ignorant of the laws of our own nature, and completely oblivious to the youthful indiscretions leading us all to the circumstances of the offense. "

Click on links on the side bar to read documents by Mr Schilling explain the his case and parole situation very eloquently.
Also click on sidebar links to view letters about recent parole placement denial and more recent actions.
A Short Explanation of the parole Problem:
Ron Schilling is a "lifer," convicted in 1975 for killing a man. When Ron was sentenced, prisoners were eligibility for parole after 13.6 years, and the average life sentence in fact meant 13.6 years. That is, if the inmate showed substantial rehabilitation and used good behavior, he was rewarded with release on parole. And indeed, the judges' sentences were made with the expectation that the prisoner would serve far less time if he proved himself/herself capable of functioning well in society. Prisoners sentenced under this system are called "old Law Lifers".

In Wisconsin, old lifer's are being held indefinitely and illegally under the new law policies and laws called Truth in Sentencing. Ron Schilling is one of the people caught in this illegal net. We will also intoduce some of the other corruptions of a failed system of parole that Ron and others have fought against,which causes us to spend more money on prisons than we do on education, and gives us the highest incarceration rate in the world.

Ron is only one victim of a general effort to make release of prisoners as difficult as possible . His story is not unique except for the length of time he has been trying for parole. Ron has obtained a list of lifers paroled since 1975 and their histories.(click to view lifer's file) We hope to here shed light on the entire parole fiasco while we focus on this man. Later we will ask for letters of parole recommendation be sent to the new parole commissioner putting pressure on him to live up to his word. If you want to know more, contact Ron Schilling or FFUP. Information given below.
Other articles and essays
1) General View of Truth in Sentencing From the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:Mary Jahn's excellent series on Wisconsin's Truth and Sentencing law and 2 editorials

2) Lifer law Is Misused; by Los Angeles Times Syndicate

4) Copy of then Governor Thompson's memo denying parole to violent offenders.

5) List of actions that led up to the present prison overpopulation

Ron Schilling's present address:

Ron Schilling, #32219
Oakhill Correctional Institution
Box 938,
Oregon, Wi 53575-0938

Email contact to FFUP and Ron Schilling: swansol@mwt.net;
FFUP
PO Box 285
Richland Center, Wi 53581

picture: Ron and his mother shortly before she died