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Working to Make a Change

September 15, 2017

Joanne Sheer has taken it upon herself to collect data regarding the number of prisoners convicted under the Felony Murder Rule law. After losing her only son to this archaic law, she started the “Felony Murder Rule Elimination Project” hoping to bring about a much needed change.

The Felony Murder Rule allows defendants to be charged with First Degree Murder (which typically requires premeditation), if a death (accidental or otherwise) occurs during the commission of a felony. I was charged and found guilty of murder based on a second degree burglary of a vehicle. I discussed this in more detail in a recent essay called “Never Too Late” . According to the law, everyone involved is “on the hook,” as my judge put it, despite how small or large a role they played in the crime. Yet, my co-defendant was given a deal for his testimony, while I got life. This is an example of a law that can not provide equal justice to both sides.

In April of 2016, AB2195 (Bonilla) was introduced and called for data collection on the number of people sentenced and convicted under this law. Their first concern was not the fairness of this law but what it would do to the prison population in California, if it were eliminated. Overcrowding is still an issue, and little has been done for “lifers,” although a Stanford Study that tracked 100 lifers out on parole over a number years found that only 5 reoffended and none for murder.

I made a terrible mistake ten years ago, when I was a foolish and inexperienced young man. Every day I try to learn a lesson and sometimes it’s painful. I know what I did was wrong, but there’s no doubt in my mind that I can do right, and I think that eventually I deserve a second chance to prove this true.

Please go to change.org and sign the petitions to abolish this law:

Abolish the Felony Murder Rule in America
Repeal the Felony Murder Rule in California

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