John's Prison Resume
20 years with good conduct
Resides in the Challenge Program in a mentor capacity since 2004
John is a role model for critical thinking, honesty, communication skills, open mindedness etc.
Has taken 180 courses.
760 hours computer courses
220 hours of agricultural courses
Created and taught ACE courses on green building, home renovation, nutrition, stress and health
Coach for multiple recreation classes
Employed in the Recreation Department
John is a Challenge Program Co-ordinator
John has received the Certificate of Completion of the Pre-Release Course at Allenwood USPS
John has a job offer from a Historical Restoration Company in Philadelphia where he will reside.
John's Letter to President Obama
Dear President Obama,
I am a 68 year old first time nonviolent marijuana offender serving a sentence of two life terms plus 20 for a marijuana conspiracy that took place in the SF Bay area and Canada. I was charged with conspiracy and was the last person prosecuted and chose to go to trial. I was prosecuted and sentenced in the 11th Circuit Northern District of Florida.
At sentencing, Judge Maurice Paul stated that there were no victims. Even though there were no victims, I most certainly knew that marijuana was not legal and that I was breaking the law.
I am deeply sorry for my involvement and regret my life choices. These choices have caused untold pain and sorrow for those I love and those who love me. I have been incarcerated for this offense for twenty years and am no doubt approaching the twilight of my life. I was held for this offense for 41/2 years pretrial.
For the last 20 years I have attempted to build a prison resume that I can be proud of and to live my life with integrity and respect for others and model nonviolent conflict resolution. I have never had violence in my life and was originally drawn into the conspiracy in the 60s and 70s counter culture of the San Francisco Bay area. Throughout my 20 years of incarceration I have never had an infraction.
I believe I have been fortunate and blessed to continue to have the support of my entire family and extended family. They have all suffered because of my incarceration but my ex-wife and son have been able to overcome all the hardships and build successful lives in spite of the suffering caused by having an incarcerated husband and father. I deeply regret what they have gone through. My ex-wife will welcome me back. While I’ve been incarcerated she was able to complete her Ph.D. and secure a tenured position at a university in Pennsylvania. My son has an engineering degree from Columbia University. I am very grateful and proud that they have been able to have successful lives and still offer me support.
I beg for mercy, compassion and forgiveness and a chance for a second chapter in my life. Please consider my petition for commutation.
John grew up in a small Midwestern town the youngest of four children. His father, Calvin was a Presbyterian minister and his mother, Bijou, was a homemaker and later a librarian. When he finished High School he attended a small community college, but decided to go to San Francisco to get training to become an industrial diver.
John went to the San Francisco Bay area in the late 60s. In the late 60s California was the front line of social and cultural change. The life style was changing and becoming more fluid and casual. The universities were vibrant and students were testing the social norms. Observing social evolutions like the Civil Rights and Anti-War movement could not be viewed from a back row seat in a small mid-western town. San Francisco was the city of love and the center of changing culture.
John was part of the Good Earth Commune which is spotlighted in David Talbot’s book “Season of the Witch” At this time commune members organized schools, child care centers and opened food pantries and soup kitchens. They rehabilitated abandoned property and attempted to save houses from the wrecking ball and make a livable place for the dispossessed. Marijuana was a popular drug but was not considered a serious substance. That came much later. These were the early days before hard drugs and the accompanying violence.
In 1974 John met a girl whose sister was a friend from the Good Earth days and they have been together ever since. They married in 1982. After he was given a life sentence, they divorced, but she is a constant support in his life and his best friend. They have a 23 year old son.
In the 70s and 80s John was part of a loose group of individuals that imported marijuana into the northwest, Canada and Europe. For most of this time John lived out of the country. It was a fluid group and everyone had a niche of expertise. The individuals changed often. Around 1986-87 John withdrew and spent his time at home with his family doing various home improvement jobs, taking care of property and working on his relationships with family. It seems that other members of the group continued to import – even into the US.
John and his wife and child were living in Hawaii in 1994 when he was indicted for this complicated conspiracy. His wife was completing her PhD in biology and he was a stay at home Dad. He was enjoying his time with family and certainly his young son. This was the last time I spent with my brother while he was free. It is a vivid memory.
He met us at the Honolulu Airport, pushing a stroller wearing shorts and a shapeless T shirt – he had a brilliant smile. It was 1993 and now in his forties, he was a first time father of a toddler. He loaded our bags in an old Saab with some dents and upholstery rips. It ran silently with precision. Our Father, Calvin had died the year before and this was a time for family memories.
I can tell you about the brother I know. He is kind, calm, and unpretentious with humor and an easy smile. John is endlessly creative and is able to repair the most pedestrian objects- that always came in handy as he is quite pathologically thrifty, a quality no doubt inspired by Bijou.
He has watched his son grow from a 3 year old boy to the fine young man he is today with an engineering degree from an Ivy League college. His wife, now his ex-wife is his best friend and confident. She completed her PhD and is now a professor at a college in Pennsylvania. We all visit him together for holidays and birthdays. It’s both wonderful and bittersweet.
When Bijou, John’s mother died, I went through her belongings and found one of our Grandmother’s albums. There were hundreds of pictures from my father’s childhood in Iowa. There was one of a field and on the back written in my Grandmother’s precise script – Our Hemp Field – that reminded me of a conversation I had with my father before his death.
Calvin, our father, was in his 80s and I asked him if he ever smoked or drank. He was quiet for a moment. He was principled and could not lie. When he spoke again he said, “Well, I never smoked tobacco, but perhaps a little rope behind the barn,” A field of Hemp and smoking behind the barn did not ruin a life in the early 1900s, but it does ruin lives now.
While in prison John has kept up with the building trades and has taken and taught classes that cover conventional and non-conventional home building. He has developed ACE courses to benefit participants after they leave. He was a mentor in the Fathers Behind Bars Discussion Group and has been a mentor in Code-Challenge Programs since 2003. He tries to model non-violent conflict resolution.
John states that he lives his life in prison as a person of integrity and moderation. He is still housed in a high security institution because of the length of his sentence, but he lives responsibly and over these 18 years of incarceration he has an incident free, unblemished record.
He says, “My life is organized and I am productive. I teach various exercise classes and construction classes to other inmates as well as fixing radios and head phones. I help other inmates with their appeals and am known as the librarian, and the radioman, depending on the day and the person.”
If John were released he would not become a burden to society and would continue to live his life in a peaceful orderly manner. He is deeply sorry for all the problems his life style caused for his family and society. He should be released.
Life For Pot
Life For Pot Commutation
PO Box 3000
White Deer, PA.
When John was found guilty and sentenced to Life without Parole for marijuana, my sister and I left the court room with our 87 year old mother, Bijou. Bijou would never see her youngest child free again. She was slumped over, wearing sun glasses so no one would see her cry. She was proud, brave and bewildered about the harshness of the sentence that her youngest child had received.