No Redemption

It is
my ninth
parole consideration hearing
appearance in front of the
Board of Prison Terms (BPT)
so far
the judgment has been the same
parole – denied

for an ounce of hope
parallels to ten thousand miles down
the bottomless pit of optimism
chaperoned by endless questions of

for I know I am alive
for I know I will never
forget to fight

I sit
with a eerie sense of calm
my feet grounded to the earth
before two men
whom I have never met
but will hold my life
and dictate the course of my future
in the intricacy of their frontal lobes, neurons, synapses
hoping that they are functional

The parties present are
newly appointed commissioner (African American – God #1)
deputy commissioner (Latino American – God #2)
deputy district attorney (Caucasian – society)
female documentary producer, two camera men (Caucasians – public eyes)
San Quentin Public Information Officer (African American – restrictor of public eyes)
three Peace Officers (African Americans – enforcers)
my attorney (African American – protector)
and I (Asian – the sinner)

The mode of operation
God #1
is to talk about my commitment offense
God #2
is to talk about my institutional behavior and parole plans
gets to make a closing statement
gets to make a closing statement
The sinner
gets to make a closing statement
Recess for deliberation slash coffee breaks

I have no faith
in the BPT
to uphold the law
without bias
to consider the suitability
of my parole
that ounce of hope
that I will receive redemption
is hidden among the cells of my mind
after all
I am fighting for my life

As always
my strategy
going into the hearing
is to speak from the heart
only this time
I want to be
in control
of the hearing
I want to answer
in detail
whatever questions, concerns, uncertainties
the BPT has concerning
the crime I have committed
at the age of sixteen
my remorse
for the victims
my development
as a person being reared
in prison for 15 years
my readiness to be a productive person
in society
I want to eliminate
any excuses the BPT
might use to deny
my freedom

As the camera
starts rolling
God #1
reads from the highlighted
cheat sheet guidelines on
how to conduct a parole hearing
I cannot help but notice
that on the back of his cheat sheet
is the signed pink slip
which I would receive at the end of
the judgment day
the only thing left for him to do
is to make an X in the denial box
at that moment
the ounce of hope


The only thing
left for God #1 to do
is to go through the formality
of the judgment guideline

He states the charges
of my crime on the record
asks me a couple of questions
and turns the judgment over to
God #2
the usual questions and discussions
on the factors of the crime
are no longer important
after all
the decision has been made

God #2
speeds through
only some of the self-help programs
in which I have participated
only a few of my support letters
asks about my parole plans
and wants to move on
after all
the decision has been made

I stopped him
and pointed out
that he has neglected
to mention all my support letters
along with a petition of about 140 signatures
in support of my release
that he is holding in his hand

I made sure
he read all the documents
concerning the hearing
I answered all the questions
that the Gods have
in extreme detail

Then Society
gets his turn to
make a closing statement
he used his best performing voice
and restated the seriousness of my crime
as if he was trying a capital punishment case in front of the jury
to convict me
he is opposed to my parole

The Protector
states the facts
of my case
the lack of prison disciplinary record
my educational and vocational achievements
my overwhelming support from family and friends in the community
my solid parole plans with three job offers
and that I have met all the necessary requirements
set by the BPT to be granted parole

The Sinner
gets his annual chance to speak
to fight for his life
I expressed my remorse for the victims
the shame and suffering that I have caused them and my family
that in another 30 or 50 years the seriousness of the crime will never change
that I am no longer the sixteen year who committed the crimes
that I am a compassionate 32 year old human being
that I have been eligible for parole since 1993
that in previous parole hearings
five different commissioners have found me suitable for parole
until the Governor refused my release due to his blanket ‘no parole policy’
and that I am ready to be a productive person in society

Next is the recess slash coffee break
when the Gods will deliberate
my suitability for parole
it took them about fifteen minutes
there is nothing to decide
after all
the decision has been made

Judgment time
I already know the outcome

God #1
from his cheat sheet
“The panel unanimously finds that you are not suitable for parole and that you would pose an unreasonable risk of danger to society if release from prison at this time. This is due to the heinous and cruelty of the crime and a callous disregard for human suffering… and the lack of therapy.”
for a nano second
I thought I heard
him choking back


each syllable
each word
engulfs the space between
the moralizing God
and the sinner
I diverge
from those venomous sound bites
that sealed my possibility of a future
at least for another year or so

years of moral jousting
with different chameleon BPT Gods slash parasites
strengthened my antibodies
to shield me
from their poisonous psychological abusive
attempts to dehumanize my essence


The judgment is final
Sinner engages the Gods into a dialogue…

Sinner, “What about forgiveness…?”
God #1, “The victims will never forgive you… society might forgive you one day…”
Sinner, “Why are you still treating me as a criminal?”
God #2, “You were a criminal, you are a criminal and you will always be a criminal!”
I got stuck in Peter Pan’s Never-never Land
never had a chance to be seen as older than a sixteen year old
after all
the decision has been made

My actions
to break the laws of society and government
got me in prison to be rehabilitated slash punished
The question is
will the same laws of society and government ever going to let me out of prison?

The words of Anatole France echoes in my mind:
“The law,
in all its majestic equality,
forbids the rich
as well as the poor
to beg on the streets, sleep under bridges, and steal bread.”

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