Breaking News

This afternoon, Monday March, 17, 2008, when I returned to my housing unit I went to the officer’s desk to pick up my store order. We can place an order for food and beverages once a week from the prisoner store. Mondays are the days my unit receives their store orders. This week I basically only ordered assorted flavored juice drinks because I knew I would be fasting. After I checked my order to verify I received everything I proceeded to my cell.

I opened the door (we have keys to our cells) and to my dismay I discovered a manila envelope on my desk. It was the kind that comes from prison staff. I wasn’t expecting any mail though, and I wasn’t expecting a sealed envelope either.

I opened the envelope to discover inside a Parole Eligibility/Lifer Review Report along with a note affixed to it that reads, “I am completing your Lifer Review. The [Parole] Board plans to see you in the next couple of months. Write on this form. Add info I may have left out. Write home placement and proposed job.” It was signed by my unit case manager.

Parole Eligibility/Life Review Reports are prepared prior to Parole Board reviews prisoners have been scheduled for. I wasn’t scheduled to see the Parole Board until March 2009. Prisoners serving life in prison only receive review by the Parole Board every five years. Next year would be my 20th year of incarceration.
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It was clearly evident this early review is prompted by Parole Board interest. And, it is clear that interest was generated by the commutation request that was submitted on February 28, 2008, to the Parole Board, a culmination of our hard work, and the strong support we have garnered. This is confirmed by a message we received two days ago from a National Public Radio (NPR) reporter.

The reporter indicated that she had contacted the Parole Board to inquire about the status of my commutation request and was informed that the Commutation Board was “gathering documents.” Part of that process would include initiating a Parole Eligibility Report.

While this is a great thing it is only the initial steps in the process. What will occur next is the Parole Board will review my commutation request and my prison file together and then conduct a personal interview with me. After that the Parole Board member who conducts the interview will make a recommendation to the rest of the Parole Board. The rest of the Parole Board as a whole will review everything and then make a recommendation to the Governor’s office.

Good News on Day One of the Fast

“But there is suffering in life, and there are defeats. No one can avoid them. But it’s better to lose some of the battles in the struggles for your dreams than to be defeated without ever knowing what you’re fighting for.” — Paulo Coelho

by Efren Paredes, Jr.

One of the symbols that is familiar to many of us is the Egyptian symbol of the Sphinx. The world has marveled over this massive figure for hundreds of years. And, throughout history people have often missed the significance of its meaning.

I have been an avid researcher of ancient Egyptian history for many years. It has been a fascinating subject to me and taught me the significance of esotericism and metaphysics. It has also helped me appreciate the value of symbolism.

The Sphinx is a monument that depicts the head of a pharaoh on a lion’s body. The lion’s body is shown laying down. The Sphinx is an image that displays the synthesized processes of the self. The head symbolizes the intellectual or rational and the capacity for self-mastery. The animal body represents humankind’s powerful physical capabilities tamed and transformed by the “balanced” head.

Before the Fast for Freedom officially began I spent a considerable amount of time thinking about the fast. It would be the first time I ever embarked on an all juice and water fast. Despite the rigors I knew would be involved, especially in the prison setting, I knew I had to do it. I knew that I could not allow my attachment to my lower earthly desires diminish my will to complete the fast.

The more I reflected on my research and understanding of various spiritual texts, the more determined I became that I would complete the fast. And, through constant prayer and meditation, nothing would stand in the way of my goal. I was confident I would succeed and I was confident that my spiritual, mental, and emotional maturity has been preparing me for this for some time.

As I thought about the fast it reminded me of the Sphinx and its symbolism. It also made me reflect about the powerful symbolism of Moses who freed the people; of Noah who gathered the people; and Lot who led the people. There is powerful symbolism present throughout our lives, yet so often it goes unnoticed.

As I prepared myself to begin the fast on Sunday a thought came to mind. Don Miguel Ruiz refers to these thoughts as the “voice of knowledge.” According to don Miguel Ruiz that voice is the sound of the Creator speaking to us and through us. I believe this. And the internal “voice” I heard was, “If you complete this fast you will be rewarded for not wavering in your faith.”

This afternoon, Monday March, 17, 2008, when I returned to my housing unit I went to the officer’s desk to pick up my store order. We can place an order for food and beverages once a week from the prisoner store. Mondays are the days my unit receives their store orders. This week I basically only ordered assorted flavored juice drinks because I knew I would be fasting. After I checked my order to verify I received everything I proceeded to my cell.

I opened the door (we have keys to our cells) and to my dismay I discovered a manila envelope on my desk. It was the kind that comes from prison staff. I wasn’t expecting any mail though, and I wasn’t expecting a sealed envelope either.

I opened the envelope to discover inside a Parole Eligibility/Lifer Review Report along with a note affixed to it that reads, “I am completing your Lifer Review. The [Parole] Board plans to see you in the next couple of months. Write on this form. Add info I may have left out. Write home placement and proposed job.” It was signed by my unit case manager.

Parole Eligibility/Life Review Reports are prepared prior to Parole Board reviews prisoners have been scheduled for. I wasn’t scheduled to see the Parole Board until March 2009. Prisoners serving life in prison only receive review by the Parole Board every five years. Next year would be my 20th year of incarceration.

It was clearly evident this early review is prompted by Parole Board interest. And, it is clear that interest was generated by the commutation request that was submitted on February 28, 2008, to the Parole Board, a culmination of our hard work, and the strong support we have garnered. This is confirmed by a message we received two days ago from a National Public Radio (NPR) reporter.

The reporter indicated that she had contacted the Parole Board to inquire about the status of my commutation request and was informed that the Commutation Board was “gathering documents.” Part of that process would include initiating a Parole Eligibility Report.

While this is a great thing it is only the initial steps in the process. What will occur next is the Parole Board will review my commutation request and my prison file together and then conduct a personal interview with me. After that the Parole Board member who conducts the interview will make a recommendation to the rest of the Parole Board. The rest of the Parole Board as a whole will review everything and then make a recommendation to the Governor’s office.

Helen sent everyone the e-mail, fax, and phone campaign information yesterday urging people to participate. I can’t impress upon you the absolute urgency for people to answer that call to action. Please circulate the e-mail, fax, and phone campaign information widely to each of your contacts and ask them to do the same. This is a major contribution they can make to our campaign with minimal effort.

The Parole Board has taken the initial steps to express their interest. Now the onus lies on us to demonstrate a strong show of support and prove we have not worked hard on this campaign only to let our energy wane in the final phase.

I am encouraged by this news. It was a symbol presented on the first full day of the fast that an opportunity is being made available. A sign to show us that we are doing the right things and moving in the right direction. We have reached a significant milestone in our campaign and a wonderful opportunity is before us. More than ever it’s time for us to prove we are worthy of receiving it.

That voice told me something good was going to come of this fast if I completed it, and it came at the beginning. You can rest assured I will complete this fast and prove I am deserving of the opportunity, and prove to you that once again that my word is very important to me and that I do not allow myself to abandon the struggle when the going gets tough.

In Solidarity,

Efren

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Published in: on March 18, 2008 at 10:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

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