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

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