We received the following message from LeVar Aikens who’s incarcerated at ERDCC in Bonne Terre. We have posted his story previously on this blog. What good is keeping LeVar in prison doing at this point…besides making the state money?
“What happens when you are held past your point of rehabilitation?
Here is another injustice in this system. The now, men and women, who came to prison as kids are treated harsher and denied help, than that those who came to prison as adults are.
When an adult commits robbery or even murder–even if it’s their second or third time in prison, they may be given 15 to 25 years. Obviously, some receive life or life without parole, but I’m not talking about them. As soon as this adult is parole eligible, they receive a parole hearing that day, and are often released on parole.
In my case, and with those who came to prison as juveniles, we aren’t afforded that same treatment, or better treatment—which you would think things would be more understanding and easier for someone who came in as a kid, because we all know kids are different than adults. I was officially parole eligible on 6/15/21. But no parole hearing was scheduled for that day, or even a month or two later. My hearing will most likely be next year. Why would the system want to take all that extra time, (time equals life) from myself and others in the same situation? Why take all the extra time/life from someone with no prior criminal history, who was in an abusive environment, and is the least likely to re-offend? You would think of the two, the one who was a kid would get the automatic parole hearing and release, and the one who was an adult on their second or third trip to prison would have to wait all the extra time/life.
So not only does the adult convicted of murder, or most likely to re-offend do less time than me and get out before me, but they aren’t restricted from anything reentry or rehabilitation-wise.
There are benefits and things ex offenders are available for. Whereas those who come in as adults can apply for and receive anything that’s available, I cannot. Why? Because when I tell the SSI office send me an application for supplemental income or benefits I can receive because I’m parole eligible, they say no, because when they look me up in the system, it says life without parole, so they say I’m not eligible for anything. In fact, if you look me up right now on the DOC website, it won’t say I’m parole eligible. It will tell you I have life without parole. And anyone with that sentence, is restricted from everything that could possibly help or benefit them. The system knows this, but no change is made.
It has been acknowledged by many different people who work in prison that I am just, “stuck”—-there is nothing else I can do in prison and my incarceration serves no purpose. Yet, I still can’t leave anytime soon, because I have to wait for a hearing, then a release date, then home plan approval. And it’s no secret this environment is unsafe and dehumanizing. For people who reach the point I have, where I’ve taken all the sham programs, has good conduct, has gone above and beyond in creating my own real rehabilitation, has gotten personal training and nutritionist certifications, has a home plan in place, and is ready to go, etc. and it’s acknowledged—–the damage being done to me mentally and emotionally is severe. I’ve done all I can to go home, I’m eligible to go home at this very moment, and there are staff who acknowledge I’m ready to go home,(yet they don’t have the power to release me), but for some reason, some backwards policy, I cannot go home.
This is a severe problem because the people that should be released are being held in prison. And once you reach a certain point and done all you’ve can, you either go backwards, (because there is nowhere else to go), or you deteriorate and lose the time and life needed to have a meaningful life.