A few weeks have lurched by since I received a letter from Governor Gavin Newsom informing me that the parole board's decision to grant my parole had been rescinded by his office. Since then I have been sitting with my thoughts and assessing my feelings around this development.
There is the profound disappointment of being confronted by yet another setback, attended by a lot of other emotions. Certainly, I share many of these feelings with all the people who care about me, who have been let down by this outcome as well.
From a place of experiencing it firsthand, my heart goes out to the thousands of men and women, and their families and friends, who have been subjected to this specific kind of treatment. It is a cruel system that holds out the promise of a second chance after decades of imprisonment only to snatch it back at the last minute. I would be lying to myself and everyone else if I said it doesn't hurt. Let the truth be told.
In this desperately confused and fearful era we're living in there is a kind of meanness infecting human relations. Too many people are retreating to their respective tribal camps, building the walls around them higher and higher while painting others thought to be outside of them with brushes loaded with shades of stark black and white, fingers twitching over the butts of their weapons just in case someone crosses a line. Too few people are willing to listen to a point of view that may be at some odds with their own; too few are willing to forgive wrongful or insulting behaviors they perceive in the other.
Nelson Mandela — a man who suffered greatly while imprisoned by the state for his stance against tyranny — famously said that the withholding of forgiveness is a poison one takes hoping someone else will die. Mandela was kind of riffing on Gandhi, who said: Eye for an eye will make the whole world blind. My arrival at this understanding comes out of having experienced both sides of the equation.
As politicians come, Gavin Newsom is a good one. I continue to believe he will do many good things for the people. For this very reason he is attracting quite a lot of opposition to his policies and decisions, and some of it is uncompromisingly hostile. This early in his governorship he must be cautious in deciding what battles he will take on. My case presents some extra challenges due to its being associated with crimes that garner a lot of public fascination, and the greater scrutiny this may bring to decisions relating to it. Some who are in opposition to my parole have chosen to politicize the process by exploiting this.
There is no blame here; at least not any aimed at anyone outside of myself. This is just another thing I must bear in consequence to some terrible failures in my youth. I alone own responsibility for my past failings. Unfortunately, not all the consequences are borne by me alone. To everyone who feels hurt or shame or sadness as a result of this current setback and the attention around it, I am truly sorry.
My release on parole will be reviewed again in a year. In the meantime, I will continue to plan and prepare for my eventual release from prison as I have been since the parole grant in January, because it would be foolish to wait until the decision becomes final before making these preparations.
To all those kind-hearted souls who have advocated for my release, know that I continue to draw encouragement from your support. I express my gratitude in my resolve to carry on in my fight for the simple dignity of redemption and reconciliation. God gave me this ground to stand on and by God I will stand on it.
In peace and serenity, love holding at the center, trusting to the supreme intelligence at the foundation of all existence.