Saturday, September 16, 2017

Write to your reps and others about THIS

I'm finding some interesting statistics about the DOC's parole of lifers in Michigan. We've noted here before that Troy, despite not having a LIFE sentence, cannot see the parole board until he's 81 years old.

Meanwhile, lifers ARE being released by the parole board. I'm working on getting the exact number for 2017 now.

I'm not suggesting these lifers shouldn't be released.

I am wondering why they can see the parole board and Troy can't.

A question for you to ask your representatives, Michigan house and senate justice committee members, Michigan justice advocates, law professors and anyone else you can think of:

How can we get prisoners like Troy access to the parole board so they stop rotting in prison despite excellent in-prison records and decades between their crime and the present day?

Get Googling to find one person today you can ask to help Troy!

—Maryann Gorman

Thursday, September 7, 2017

A Plea from Troy: Can You Help?

I am looking for partners to work with me to obtain my freedom.

I am serving a 60 to 90-year sentence for killing Scott Chandler in a bar fight in 1984. Because my judge sentenced me to a 60-year minimum, I have less access to the parole board than second-, or even first-degree lifers.  My only relief at this point is commutation.

You could help me in two general areas:

1. Trying to find some way to get my case put back under the jurisdiction of the parole board. (Explanation here.)
2. Filing my commutation in July 2018.

The work would be any one or more of these tasks: researching, networking and lobbying for anyone in a position to help. This includes Michigan legislators, current and former criminal justice system experts and leaders, inmate/defendent advocates, the Department of Corrections, and anyone else you think will listen.

First, let me state the reasons you may not want to help me:

I killed a young man (he was just 27 years old) who had his whole life ahead of him. Though I thought I was reacting rightly to his actions at the time, I've since come to see I was wrong about that. He died because of my tragic misreading of the situation. I had already been to prison once and was on walkway from a halfway house when I committed this crime. I had very little understanding of the enormity of what I'd done and I was so self-absorbed, whatever remorse I had was centered around me.

I have no defense for this part of my life. I can only say that I am ashamed of it and I have developed the understanding of it that I lacked then.

Knowing this, why would you consider helping me?

In the 33 years since my crime, I've engaged in a life of self-confrontation and personal transformation. This began with the realization of how despicable my action was and deep remorse for it.
  • I have no assaultive tickets in the 33 years of this sentence. 
  • I have zero tickets since 1996.
  • I was 20 years old when I committed this murder.
  • All DOC metrics show me to be a low risk for reoffending and a high probability for success.
  • Psych reports, letters from respected people in the community, along with other objective evidence supports this conclusion. 
  • I have a very strong support system in Michigan and Pennsylvania. If I go to Pennsylvania, I have a job and housing waiting for me, and though I don't have a specific job offer in Michigan, I have many skills and prospects and people to help.
One definition of commutation is: "a substitution of one form of payment for another."  I consider my debt to be unpayable, and will continue to atone for taking Scott's life until the end of mine, no matter where I am. If I'm ever released, I will continue to exchange one form of payment for another  — perhaps one of more practical value to society.

I know you can't make a reasonable decision to help based on the scant information in this message. I happen to be a writer, and reading some of my work would be a good way to learn more about how I've spent my time here. You can read my writings at:

Whole Ways
The Wholeness Ethics Blog
Sacred Matters
My book, Stepping Up
An NPR piece I wrote and recorded

Or you can contact me personally at:

Troy Chapman
#169076
Muskegon Correctional Facility
2400 S. Sheridan
Muskegon, MI 49442

or contact Maryann Gorman for more info.

Thank you.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Some questions we have regarding Troy's case



In my last post I gave an overview of Troy's legal situation.

We are looking for people who are willing to think creatively about Troy's situation and we have a few questions that might make fertile ground for moving forward. These all relate to Troy's status as a person with a long indeterminate sentence, or LID.

  • When Troy was sentenced in 1984, "Proposal B" had been in effect for 6 years. At that time, he was eligible for parole under the old lifer law, which said 10 years or more would be treated as “life,” which at the time was eligible for parole in 10 years. Michigan Attorney General Frank Kelly issued an opinion in 1986 that interpreted Proposal B and took away the parole board access of people with long indeterminate sentences. This went on for awhile, with these two laws in contradiction. Then, the Lifer Law was altered to reflect this opinion. Does the fact that Troy and other LIDs had access to the parole board for eight years give him any standing?
  • Why isn’t there an equal protection claim for people sentenced to more time for second degree than those convicted of first degree? Certain numbers give more parole board access to first degree than to second. Is there a principle in law that lesser degrees of crime should receive lesser degrees of punishment?
  • If first-degree natural life is Michigan’s equivalent of the death penalty, this practice of over-sentencing second-degree cases is comparable to prosecutors and judges in death-penalty states somehow sentencing second-degree cases to death. It’s being treated as a “capital offense,” but this is contrary to the legislative intent of the second-degree statute. Is there any legal standing for this issue?
Please let us know if you have any thoughts on these issues or know someone who can help.

—Maryann Gorman

Friday, May 5, 2017

It's 2017, and Troy Chapman is still in prison. And we need your help.


I created this blog ten years ago, hoping to attract support for Troy Chapman's bid for commutation of his 60- to 90-year sentence for second-degree murder. And we succeeded in getting that support from many wonderful people, some of whom have become lifelong friends.

But Troy's commutation applications (four since 2007) have not been successful. Despite bi-partisan talk about reducing prison populations, governors are still hesitant to wield their pens for this purpose. We hope that, in his final months in office, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder will be an exception.

But the fact is, the commutation lottery should not be Troy's only hope.

Here are the key points about Troy's case:
  • He has been in prison since 1984 on a 60-90 year sentence for second-degree murder. Yes, he committed the crime, and yes, he took someone's life, which we know is irreversible, and terrible.
  • But due to a decades-old interpretation of sentencing law, Troy cannot see the parole board until he has served the minimum of his "long indeterminate" sentence. (For comparison, second-degree lifers in Michigan get to see the parole board every five years starting in their 10th year in prison.)
  • Troy will be 81 years old when he first sees the parole board if this glitch in Michigan's legal system is not addressed.
  • We believe Troy has earned, at the very least, a consideration of his case by the parole board — through his rehabilitation, active atonement and behavior in prison.* At 53, he is not the man he was when he killed his victim in a barroom brawl at the age of 21. He did not receive a life sentence, but his is a de-facto sentence to die in prison.
So why am I writing about this again and resurrecting a blog that has remained fallow for years?

We are looking for advocates who can help us shine a light on this situation, not only for Troy but for others like him. Legal researchers, anyone who can help us in communications and raising awareness, strategy, etc. 

There are thousands of Michigan inmates in Troy's situation — warehoused and ignored by the parole board because of ongoing adherence to a one-size-fits-all, 30-year-old ruling that is incompatible with the current goal of reducing the huge population of aging inmates.

We have approached many good people with a lot of knowledge about this area, and have received replies that inspire reactions ranging from hope to despair. No doubt, it is a complex legal situation.

But this is a human-made conundrum that has a human-made solution. The legal situation may be a bit of a tangle, but the fact is, if Michigan wants to give long-time inmates with good records a second chance, a way to get them access to the parole board can be found. 

If you would like to learn more about Troy and his legal situation, feel free to contact me via the comments section below or at mgorman 50 at comcast dot net. And thank you for listening and giving us your time.

—Maryann Gorman

*P.S. Troy has some published works that might help you learn about who he has become. You can check them out here, here, here and here. His books are available at Amazon

Saturday, May 24, 2014

New book by Troy Chapman

Just a quick note to let you know Troy has published a new book, The Knitting Birds and Other Poems. It's a lovely little collection of poetic observations and memories.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Troy's first book is published!


Hello to all the Friends of Troy,

I know it's been quite some time since you've heard from us. While we have not updated this blog since Troy's last commutation application was denied by Michigan's governor almost a year ago, he has been hard at work on a book, advance copies of which are now available for purchase!

It's called "Stepping Up: Wholeness Ethics for Prisoners and Those Who Care About Them" and is published by my imprint, The Whole Way Press. The book will also soon be available at Amazon.com. Whether you know someone in prison or are seeking wholeness yourself, we think you'll find this book valuable.

This has truly been a labor of love. As many of you know, Troy has been teaching an ethics class at his prison, Kinross Correctional Facility, for several years. But he has been doing more than simply teaching about existing ethical systems. The Kinross Ethics Project is based on an ethical system for everyday living that Troy has developed himself from years of self-education and seeking. I'll let the back-of-book blurb speak for itself:

"Men and women in prison are seen by society as problems and burdens. This book begins with a different premise: that you can be a solution, not only in the world but in your own life as well. It's about a way of living called wholeness ethics and it's based on the simple truth that we find our own wholeness only in right relationship with the world.

"From the perspective of his 30 years behind bars, author Troy Chapman offers a roadmap for living this truth and moving toward soundness, well-being and the realization of one's larger purpose. Distilling experience to four essential relationships - with yourself, others, the transcendent and nature - Chapman shows how to consider each in the light of ethical thinking and restore wholeness to each one.

"With down-to-earth examples and language, compassion and good humor, this book will help you 'step up' to your true purpose, transform your life and your relationships, and help create a better world in the process."
We have also created a new blog to accompany the book: The Wholeness Ethics Blog. Bookmark us there for posts about the practice of wholeness ethics!

Troy and I are infinitely grateful to all of you who have been such wonderful friends to us. Without you, this book would not have been possible.

Peace,
Maryann

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Troy Chapman author page
Stepping Up book page