Still ‘All In’ for Justice: An Open Letter to the Ohio Parole Board
August 10, 2016
Ohio Parole Board 770 W. Broad Street Columbus, OH 43222
Dear Ohio Parole Board:
Having served nearly 23 years as a first time offender for aggravated robbery and felonious assault, I’m writing this open letter to you in the hope of being freed from my torturous and unjust old-law, indefinite prison sentence.
As you may know, I mailed a letter to you in 2014, prior to my fifth and most recent release consideration hearing. I gave several reasons why I deserved to be paroled. Briefly, the reasons were these: (1) I had already served more than the maximum time I would have been given under the 1996 Senate Bill 2 sentencing guidelines. (2) In 2012 I had been given an unconstitutional release consideration hearing because of the presence of Ohio Parole Board member Marc Houk, who in 2006, as the warden of Ohio State Penitentiary, was caught trying to frame me for vandalizing a prison elevator. The Ohio State Highway Patrol found during the criminal investigation that the elevator had contained Houk’s illegally stored motorcycle. (See Ohio State Highway Patrol Incident No. 06-000028-0400.) (3) In 2013 I was assaulted and framed by a squad of rogue correction officers in Mansfield. (See “Black Lives Matter” essay on FreeJasonGoudlock.org.) These reasons were overshadowed by my light-hearted closing comment in which I asked to be paroled, in part, to see LeBron James’ pursuit of an NBA championship with the Cleveland Cavs, a comment that was widely publicized and criticized in national media.
The majority of reporters shaped their stories to suggest I’d written to you for the sole purpose of asking to be let out of prison to see LeBron James play. With the media watching, you issued a preposterous sentence continuance of five years, as if to send a message to the entire nation that the Ohio Parole Board would never release a prisoner for such a shallow request. It’s not surprising that many in the media would use a light-hearted snippet from my letter to make satirical headlines, but aren’t you supposed to be furthering justice in Ohio? How does the Ohio Parole Board accomplish that purpose when it issues my unjust five-year continuance and ignores the egregious acts of injustice named in my letter, all of which can be easily verified?
There is widespread, growing agreement that our nation’s criminal justice system disproportionately incarcerates poor people of color—that the system is broken and needs to be fixed. This task is going to take much time, energy, and effort, but it can begin with simple repairs like eradicating the discriminatory practice of over-incarcerating old law prisoners like me. We are being made to serve prison sentences three and four times longer than sentences being served by new law prisoners.
In addition, there is no reason the Ohio Parole Board could not develop a more uniform system of determining which old law prisoners are granted parole. In 2016 you granted parole to a recently captured escapee, Frank Freshwater, who was a fugitive for about 50 years after being convicted of killing someone, and you did this after issuing my five-year continuance in 2014.
In spite of my many protests against injustice within Ohio’s criminal justice system, it makes no sense to Nelson Mandelitize me in terms of time served. Every member of the Parole Board must know by now that I have no desire to harm anyone when I am free. So I ask you to do what is morally correct: issue a parole or an imminent conditional release date, something I’ve never been given the opportunity to earn.
Your consideration would be greatly appreciated.
cc: Columbus Dispatch, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Akron Beacon Journal, Ohio News Network, FreeJasonGoudlock.org
Downloads: Download a PDF copy of 2016 Letter to the Parole Board.