The Playwickian

Letter to the editor: Give graying lifers a break

James D. Inge

My name is James Inge, and I am sixty-four (64) years of age. I am serving a life sentence at the State Correctional Institution at Graterford. Since the age of twenty, I have been incarcerated for forty (40) or more years.
I am writing to seek community support for a modification of Pennsylvania’s parole laws which would grant parole review for rehabilitated elderly senior lifers who have been incarcerated for forty (40) or more years.
Some of these lifers were sentenced at a very young age when they were not fully mature or educated well enough to understand the law and benefits of accepting a plea bargain. Consequently, they are now serving life in prison without the possibility of parole for the same crimes for which they were formally offered a lesser sentence if they were to choose not to go to trial.
I have written to all the Members of the Senate and House of Representatives very humbly asking that they support my proposed amendment to the current Parole Statute. The amended statute should read as follows.
Elderly seniors, age sixty-five (65) or older who are serving a life sentence and who have served at least thirty-five (35) years of that sentence or who have reached the age of sixty (60) or older and who have served at least forty (40) years of that sentence, may petition the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole for parole review.
Research shows that a forty (40) year minimum sentence is on the high end of sentencing for murder in comparison to those sentences given for murder in many other states. Additionally, a forty (40) year minimum sentence could particularly target offenders sentenced to life in prison before the age of twenty-five (25).
A sentence of forty years is an extremely lengthy sentence. Taking into account the necessity to give an offender this type of sentence at such a young age should urge the Parole Board to consider whether or not immaturity played a role in an offender commission of a crime for many cases that happened more than four (4) decades ago. Today, advancements in neuroscience indicate that the human brain does not fully develop/mature until at least the age of twenty-five (25).
Members of the Senate and House of Representatives are aware that mainly elderly senior lifers who committed murder as young adult have since made great strides in maturity and decision making over their many years of incarceration. Therefore, I ask the legislators if it is feasible to extend the financial burden upon taxpayers for the continuation of incarceration without parole for elderly senior lifers who have shown success in achieving rehabilitation.
For the above reasons and in the spirit of criminal justice reform, I am asking that you write, fax, or email:
The Honorable Joseph A. Petrarca
Chairman of the Judiciary Committee
PA House of Representatives
239 Longfellow Street
Vandergrift, PA 15690
Fax: (724) 567-0006
Email: [email protected]
You can also contact your legislator of choice: Go to the General Assembly’s website (legis.state.pa.us) click on the names and links for your senator or representative. Please express your support for a legislative amendment to the current parole statute that would make it possible to grant parole review for rehabilitated elderly senior lifers who have been incarcerated for forty (40) or more years.
James D. Inge, is a inmate at the State Correctional Institution at Graterford. Who has been incarcerated for the past 44 years.

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Letter to the editor: Give graying lifers a break