Write and Help Give Rayvell His Life Back

The ugly truth is – Rayvell Finch was in possession of some stolen property once.  It was worth over $500.   About a year later – he was charged with possession with intent to distribute 24 rocks of crack cocaine.

Those were his wrongs.  A parent with a troubled child might be familiar with something like that.    For whatever reason – people get sidetracked when they are young, one wrong choice leads to a few more.   They make immature, irresponsible choices that we hope and pray they grow out of.  With so many of our kids  – it might evolve into addiction.  The grip of a drug on your kid so powerful, you can’t beat it the hell back, no matter how hard you try.

That is what happened to Rayvell.  He became an addict.  One day, a few years after the above crimes – he was sitting on a stoop.  He was visiting an aunt, and was sitting with a friend outside.   The police say there was a ‘No Trespassing’ sign, but none of my research ever showed that evidence was presented.

It doesn’t matter – he was arrested for sitting on that stoop and looking like someone the police thought might be up to something.  He had his fix in his sock.  That was his third strike.  That’s it.  That is what he got life in prison without the possibility of parole for.

It’s two decades later.  Yes – two decades.  He’s still in that prison.  But there is a glimmer of hope.  Just a glimmer, but it’s there.

On March 16, 2017, Rayvell is going before a parole board.  Feeling sympathy, sharing stories, crying over the injustice and the death behind bars – we do that.  A lot.   This is one of those times something can be done.  Please join me in writing on behalf of Rayvell.   This is his story if you need to read more.

It’s so easy and it could mean all the difference in the world.  If you need an outline, copy and paste what I have below and add some of your own sentiments.  The below words are meant to give you a place to start.  It’s just a shell to help you compose your own letter, but the information regarding Rayvell’s accomplishments are all accurate.

The address is included in the sample.

State of Louisiana Board of Pardons
Committee of Parole Department of Public Safety and Corrections
P.O. Box 94304
Capital Station
Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70804-9304

Re:  Rayvell Finch, 00336346

To Whom It May Concern,

I am writing this letter in support of, Rayvell Finch, who is appearing before the parole board on March 16, 2017.  I am writing to request that you send Mr. Finch home to reunite with his family.

Rayvell Finch never committed a violent crime and the third strike he received that resulted in a life sentence was the result of an addiction that he has long since conquered.

While facing life in prison, he chose to better himself.  Where others may have given up, he pushed forward.  He has taken courses in anger management, substance abuse and religious studies.   He also has experience in carpentry, horticulture and in the culinary arts.   He has taken up hobbies while he has been incarcerated, including making jewelry, leather work and woodwork.

He has been incarcerated for two decades and I implore you to release Rayvell at this parole hearing and allow him to spend the rest of his days with his family and loved ones.

Sincerely,

 

I made a decision today.  I am going to write a book.  Not real.  Not about prison.  Not about this heartache.  Simply because being touched by all this heartbreak, learning what it does to people inside and out – it is true, just like that woman told me – it sucks the life right out of you.   It reminds me of that movie – The Secret Life of Bees.  The girl who feels others’ pain and she eventually kills herself because it is too overwhelming.  I am choosing not to kill myself.  Instead – I will create a different world.

So – as my escape from this sadness – I am writing my first novel!  I’m excited….

Opening the Blinds on Being Female in Prison

Our reality is a product of what we know and are permitted to know.  If all the events that take place behind prison bars were brought to light, there might be a call to action from normal, everyday America.

There is always the need to preface every story with – bad people go to prison and we need those facilities.  What about the girl who was raised differently than others, faced more struggles, maybe didn’t have parents looking out for her and got caught up is something, or the mentally ill girl, or the harshly sentenced or the falsely accused?  Those people are in there too, all mixed in together.  Even the ‘bad’ ones deserve a fair shot at being rehabilitated.  We are all one mistake or false accusation away.  It’s enough to make you think – it made me think.

The reality of life behind bars for women.  Think about it.  There is an inescapable vision of the vulnerability.  Walls that can’t be seen through.   The people behind those walls have no voice, their phone calls and letters, if they can afford them, are monitored. And, their families don’t often have the means to fight any injustice.  You don’t really want to risk ticking off the man who is your jailer.  What are your options?

If you could have seen through the bars of a prison one particular day, you would have seen a scene something like this.  “He asked me to pull my shirt up.”  She did it for him.  She lifted her shirt because she knew if she did, she could, “get stuff.”

At one prison in 2008, while a female inmate was showering, the officer on duty sent the other prisoners on her tier to lunch.  When the inmate returned to an empty cell, the officer entered and forced her to perform oral sex. The consequence for his actions were six months of low-level probation.

In 2009, a corrections officer blackmailed an inmate into having sex with him three times during the same day by saying that he had the power to send her back to prison at her next hearing if she fought him. Repeatedly, she told him she didn’t want to have sex.  The officer was sentenced to six months in prison.

Ten percent of all women in U.S. jails report being sexually abused by corrections officers. In 2012, an officer offered money for sex to an inmate doing late cleaning duty. After humiliating her in a supply closet, the officer instructed the woman to “clean her mess up”.  His punishment was a year of low-level probation.

At one prison in Alabama it has been reported that a third of prison employees have had sex with female inmates.  After a federal investigation at that prison, it was reported that inmates, “live in a sexualized environment with repeated and open sexual behavior including: abusive sexual contact between staff and prisoners, sexualized activity, and a strip show condoned by staff.”

The thing is – we don’t even know the half of it, because anyone who has lived in a prison environment knows it is in an inmate’s best interest not to report any wrongdoing on the part of corrections staff.  This is the reality we don’t hear about every day.

REFERENCES

Barrish, Cris. “Sex behind Bars: Women Violated in Delaware Prison.” Delawareonline. The News Journal, 31 July 2015. Web. 02 Jan. 2017.

Gates, Verna. “Inmates at Alabama Women’s Prison Face Sexual Abuse: U.S. Justice.”Yahoo! News. Yahoo!, 22 Jan. 2014. Web. 10 Jan. 2017.