Edward, 43
Edward, 43

Meet Edward…

I have changed after the 12 years of being locked away, now I’m just angry because any longer is pointless.

For 12 years I’ve sat in an Oregon prison with another 11 to go. I am given no chance to earn good time credits, which would take time off my sentence. The Measure One Bbill  forces me to do a day-for-day sentence, even with years of good behavior! Oregon is one of the only states left with this mandatory sentencing law.

I feel that Oregon lawmakers are stuck in their old ways of thinking. They refuse to even vote on a Bill that could offer time off a conviction for good behavior. Meanwhile, Measure 17, forces us  into slave labor. Here’s how: every prisoner is required to work unless you have a disability. I think the Oregon Department of Corrections cares about the profit being made from me, while I work in the call-center. Yes, this prison works with outside contractors that employ prisoners to sit in a hot call – center for eight hours making marketing calls all over the United States and Canada.

Prisoners even build furniture for profit. We now build guitars within the Oregon State Prison that are sold for over $1,000.00. I must tell you that it’s voluntary to work for these higher paying contractors, yet one way or another,  prisoners are required to work. The lower paying kitchen job pays around $25 a month. Someone in the free world might think that is not bad, but with the price of phone calls, canteen items increasing yearly, prisoners can not afford to work for these contractors. unless you don’t care about calling family and friends, or brushing your teeth! I understand that I’m here as a punishment, but I should be treated as a human being and offered programs before I am released from prison, not after being released! Are you telling me I’m required to complete my full 22 year sentence and then Oregon wants me to attend counseling or classes as a requirement of probation? Let me answer for the clueless, the answer is Yes. I ask where are the high profile legal teams fighting for Oregon prisoners?

I will more than likely continue to watch the rich and famous be released from criminal accountability while I sit here having no hope. The prison has not offered me counseling or any form of rehabilitation since being here. The last point I want to make, everyone that has a discussion about how the prison system is broken does just that, they have a conversation that leads to the same conclusion, “It’s broken.” Where is the action? Give me a break and offer up a bill that proposes time off my sentence for good behavior and end Measure 11 & Measure 17. Take the profit away from mass incarceration and things will change. I have changed after the 12 years of being locked away, now I’m just angry because any longer is pointless. What kind of people do you want released into the community? Why not help make us prisoners better people, kinder, more loving and stop caring about profit made and how you can use us or our families. Massive change is needed, not more talk. I sent this article to several civil organizations and Oregon lawmakers.

I hope that whoever receives this will post it on social media and spread it until someone listens. Someone might jump on board with us, the fighters of positive change. It’s important to us, the poor and non famous. The people that have been locked up and forgotten. I’m not Bill Cosby or Martha Stewart.