Sunday, August 15, 2010

One Warriors Path

One Warrior’s Path: A Fight Against the State of Wisconsin
By Standing Bear

part one
At this time, a small amount of states have established religious policies for Native American Prisoners, to effectively and reasonably meet their Spiritual and Religious needs. The policies that are there, usually become outright ignored. Native American prisoners use to have the right to address these issues; then in 1997 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act (R.F.R.A.) to be unconstitutional , Albeit Native American prisoners may be protected by the Native Americana Freedom of Religion Act of 1974, unfortunately no one is holding prison officials accountable for it’s application and compliance. Enforcement of this at state levels of government is not happening.
President Clinton signed into law the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 What remains unknown is whether it’s effective or not; Native American prisoners are currently filing or refiling litigation under this new act, to the avail of no court decisions being made to date.
In 1995, I found myself in Kettle Moraine Institution )(K.M.C.I.) The true name of the Native American group, is Oshkibimadizeeg. Being a member helped my rehabilitation Spiritually, I found a oneness within myself. I eventually came to notice that the very essence of our heritage and way of life was being attacked b the D.O.C. Administration. New rules and policies and procedures were being implemented; officers would stop our pipe ceremonies to bring our attention to new policies that limited our participation in the ceremonies. Even at our Sweat lodge, high ranking security officials drove by, making what amounted to racial slurs. We were mocked by the sounds of supposed “war cries”. Time and time again, I’d become very angry and felt strong emotions stemming from pride. It was then that I seemed to favor fighting verbally and physically against anyone who degrade our way of life. I felt, in a place of solitude, cut off from all outside ties.
One evening, during one of my most pressuring times, myself and 5 brothers decided to out and smoke from the sacred pipe, I felt Wa-Ka-Tonka calming me. After, we stayed within the Talking Circle; great things were being said, but I felt as if I was being called back, so I asked to be excuse. I went onto my cell and decided to play drum music and to burn sage and sweet grass. I then chose to read some of my Native American literature. I came across an extraordinary statement made by chief Joseph, In 1879, “We only ask an even chance to live as other men. We ask to be recognized as men. We ask that the same laws shall work alike on all men…let me be a free man.. free to work, free to think and act and talk for myself, and I will obey every law, or submit to the penalty.” It was at this time that I decided to fight with the figurative pen. This would become a six year battle, in this time I would rise from secretary of the group, Pipe Carrier, Co-Chief, and Chief.
I filed an inmate complaint, on behalf of the group, regarding the policies and procedures, and the discrimination against Native American Religion and Heritage. The Department of Corrections. Investigator found in favor of the department. Not long after, the institution administration retaliated against us with an onslaught of new policies and procedures. The Native Americans, for years, had been allowed outside religious participants during our Pow Wows and Ghost Feasts, this was no longer; we were recognized as a group, we received outside support and had our own account, from which we purchased beading and other materials that allowed us to make gifts of thanks to give to those who supported us and attended our ceremonies. The institution officially disbanded our group, took possession of all our materials and the money left in our account. Even though, according to their own policies, they must inform or post all new changes in policies thirty days before they take effect. They failed to do so, concerning our group, had they allowed us this grace period, we could have made gifts of our possessions to some worthy cause.
A long legal battle pursued, the Great Spirit sent warriors to assist me in the form of the American Religious Rights Foundation (A.I. R.R.) Francoise Hembert, Great Lakes Inter-tribal Counsel, Wisconsin; Native American Prisoner Support (N.A.P.S.) Valerie Scott, American Indian Religious Rights Foundation(A.I,R,R,); France Office, Catherine Busseuil, Euelyne Tovornik, and Sopis Heujaine; Angela Davis Cop Watch; Karen Murphy Smith; Joseph Dark Cloud(paralegal); Joe Asklock; Tsalagiyi: NVDAGI; Rev. Kari Chapman- Namaste. This battle had reached the U.S. Supreme Court, even though we didn’t win, we have now moved on to submit legal documents of all our discriminations and religious violations for the Congressional Hearings on native American prisoners, to be spearheaded by Congressman J.D. Hayworth, of Arizona.
As long as there is discrimination and injustices against our people, we must continue to fight. For injustice against one is injustice against all, I did have some wins; I asked the State and Federal Courts to decide whether accounts of inmates’ denominated “release Accounts”, which are otherwise available to an inmate only upon his or her release to field supervision, be available for the purpose of paying Court filing fees. So, in Spence-V-Cook, 537 N.W. 2d.904 (Ct.App.1998); also, Spence-V-McCaughtry, 46 F. Supp.2d.861 (E.D. Wis.1999). This was a win not just foe me and Native Americans, but for all inmates in the state of Wisconsin.
As a member of the Angela Davis Cop Watch (A.D.C.W.), which campaigns against racial profiling, Ms. Karen Murphy – Smith is the co-founder, her and I have worked hard together to bring the Native Americans in the State of Wisconsin and African American communities in an alliance. ON July 20th, 2000, a Counsel, Inc., Wisconsin, which is comprised of 11 federally recognizes Indian Tribes. Also, a resolution to support the free exercise of Religion for all Native Americans incarcerated was passed on July 20, 2000.
Ms Karen Murphy is a great friend and colleague. I have received a Positive Image Certificate from Mr. Oscar Shade, Warden of Racine Correctional Institution, on 02-27-93. I have also received a Certificate of Appreciation from Mr. O’Dell, Warden and Major of Appleton, Minnesota, R. Ronning 2001. I have successfully participated in, and completed 58 program. I counseled for 10 years with problem juveniles. Prisons cannot change a man, only what’s in a man’s heart will you find a place for change. What one thinks so shall he be.
Today in the prisons, it is big business. We have about 2.2 million people in prison now. Let me be clear, rehabilitation is dead! Charles Dickens visited Philadelphia’s Eastern State penitentiary in 1842, and he later wrote, “ The system is rigid, strict and hopeless …and I believe it to be cruel and wrong… I hold this slow and daily tampering with the mysteries of the brain to be immeasurably worse than any torture of the body”. The prison remained open for 129 years after Dickens condemned it as barbaric, and forms of it’s inhumane practices continue to be routinely used in state, as well as federal prisons nationwide.
I have had my drink from the bitter cup of hatred and that’s what prison is all about. It is the weak who are cruel, gentleness can only be expected from the strong.
I must also take the honor to thank Rev. Jamyi J. Witch, Chaplain of the Waupun Correctional Institution, for her help with the Native American Library, her and I put together in 2003. She has been my spiritual counselor for some time now, she is a great teacher and friend. Namaste.

Frederick Spence#132827

Part Two
June 2004, my depression started to get the best of me. I stopped going to Pipe Ceremonies, and I would only go to Sweat lodges and that was once a month. I stopped going to the Music room to play with my band,
I found comfort being alone away from everyone, I would stay in my cell only going to eat; also I would see R«v. Jamvi J Witch once a week, and the spiritual Leader for the Na t i ve group,.Ground Shaker,what a beautiful man.
In July, my Mom came to see me from California, and my beautiful friend, Peggy Swan. We had a great time, so much fun talking on that first visit. I really have to say Peg swan bad me and my Mom laughing so much. Laughter 1s music for the soul, I would never forget at the end of our visit I gave these two most beautiful women the biggest hugs I ever gave anyone.
The last three days my Mom came to visit we talked about so much.. For some reason 1 would think and look into my Mom's eyes thinking. here my Mom's a school teacher , then think of my father who was a school tea«her and Wrote books on English and; I said to myself,, what kind of fool am I.? On the last dat my mom spoke about my father a minister and who passed in 1996. I believe my mom could tell I was sad and hurting inside, she reminded me how my Dad Loved a11 people and had never said one bad thing of another race, because I had just said something I should not have.
I felt so ashamed being in prison, oh, T had written long to letters to my parents asking forgiveness, "yes" they forgave me, but their Love has no Judgment", or conditions For their son. I was saying, how the hel1 can she love me, look at your son he is in prison. He was not there for his father in his old age. It was just my own dream, I have always dreamt of making money playing music, and in my parents old age being there for them, loving and loving them, My Dad lived a great life he died at the age of 92. God had blessed him, but as a son 1 wanted to be there and I was not. It is not about the death for it's just another step in life, the other side of death., to open the Gate!
Deep within I had not forgiven myself, and being with my Mom in a place like prison 1 had great shame and pain. My parents gave me everything a child could want , they placed me in some of the best schools In California. I could never say, oh, this person or people kept me down, 1 could not play that card. The only person left to blame for my troubles was me and I was not ready for that.
I can not really tell someone how it feels to have your freedom taken. The loss of friends, of spiritual relationships, employment, material things, the freedom to go about life in the outside world, to make hundreds of decisions d day; what I eat, who I visit with, who I may call, the loss of family and friends, and the loss of sharing daily 1ife with the woman you love. I feel 1 lack the opportunity to develop new friendships with people outside of prison..
1 look into my Mom's deep beautiful brown eyes, I could see the pain knowing in a few hours she would she would be leaving me behind in this prison, when she really wanted to hold me and take me back to our home in California. I had become melancholy, I knew the hour grew short, I did not want her to see me cry it took all that I was not to cry,for my heart had become heavy. I knew I would be walking back into a world where there would not be one face that I had ever known in the free world.
The time came, I held my Mom and hugged her like it would be my
last, I told her how much I love her and kissed her so. I watched
her walk out the door.
I had to get pat-searched, then stripped before I could go back. I hate when I have to go through this, I cannot stand anytime they must touch me. As I walk I look around at this "ugly" prison, It's over 100 years old, how depressing. I was thinking about when I would see my Mom again and the things we spoke about, and how the first day Peggy made us laugh. My Mom always talks about that when I call home.
It s almost August, I have become so depressed now I never smile at all, and all I want is to stay in my cell. It is difficult to tell you what I feel, thinking that not one face is someone I knew from the free world. When I get depressed I believe 1 feel total loneliness. Then I get to the point I cannot tolerate much at all, and I cannot see one thing 1 like about Waupun other than Ground Shaker, the good thing about him is: he has been the Crisis Intervention person at Waupun for 25 years or so. One day he and Rev. Witch, and Dr. Coleman said it would maybe be a good thing to send me to the Wisconsin Resource Center, 1 said, OK!
So on August 19, 2004, 1 was admitted into the Resource Center for Major Depressive Disorder, and (PTS) Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; and Sleep Disturbance. For me this change was just more faces I had never seen before in my life.
Now this place is completely different from a regular prison, these people are really nice and treat you like a person. I've got to tell you that at first I could not believe it, it seemed like every staff member was nice and all smiles. I've got to say right off I did not trust anyone. All I had ever really known in prison were guards who seemed to hate us, who act like they were gods themselves and I was just a being in their plantation.
Let me make this clear the Wisconsin Resource Center is for people with mental illness, this nay be mild, but they do have people with extremely severe mental illnesses. It is a small institution, I believe it has about 600 people, most Wisconsin prisons hold over 1000 inmates or more. You live in what they call a "Unit," it holds about 30 people, each unit has people with different illnesses, but I was on a unit with people with a mild mental Illness. I took classes on mental illness, ie. Mental Health Education, Education on Depression, Post Traumatic Stress, Beyond Transition, Life Coping Skills, and a few others.

After about 6 months I started feeling great. The staff on living units at WRC dress in street cloths, so you don't see guards as you would at a regular prison. There are guards at WRC but they stay out of the way. Now if you do something wrong, guards will come in and it's not to say hello.
I got my hope and faith back. I heard about a good music teacher at WRC, so I wanted to meet him, so I wanted to meet him, so I signed up for his music class. Up until then I hadn't much cared to play music and for me this
is something as I have played music all my, life, starting with my family, we all played as a group, my Dad, my 3 brothers and 2 sisters, this was a lot of fun. My experiences in music Included performances in different genre including Jazz. Rock, R&B, Blues, and Church Choirs. Three years before coming to prison I worked with a member of a Jimmy Hendrix band, the legendarv drummer, Mr. Buddy Miles, who himself is now In the Rocken Roll Hall of Fame. In 1970 he and Hendrix had a band they called The Band Of Gypsy, it was the only album they put out together I believe. 1 had also worked a little television and radio back in California. I also taught guitar, I studied and majored in music at Los Angeles Southwest College.
Anyway, 1 get to this music class and 1 meet the teacher, what a great man Mr. N. Gleason, this man had to have played over a thousand songs the time 1 was there. ! was there a bit over a year. He played piano and guitar, he was talking the one thing that is a great part of me, music, and I truly understood It.
We would find time to play with each other and I cannot say how grateful I was to play with a true musician. I must say music is how I express all that I feel, 1 remember the first time we played for staff and inmates, I hadn't played in front of someone in over a year. This day I let my anger out on that guitar, I played with my teeth and behind my back; yes. it's true I'm a true blue Hendrix freak. It was a great time, 1 learned a lot: from Mr. Gleason, not Just music but his kindness. Everyone loved our playing, and from then on anytime we could play for ourselves or anyone else we did. One thing is the same at all prisons is that if something happens it seems like in 5 minutes everyone knows about it; because from that day no matter where I was in the institution men would come up to me and tell me they heard about my playing. This has always been a great joy for me, to be able to play music and give someone joy .
I began to attend Pipe Ceremonies und praying 3 to 4 times a day. Once a month I would fast for 4 days for every Sweat Lodge. I would also find time for meditation, this was part of healing myself, and forgiving myself. I would find time to talk and pray with inmates. i had a great social worker,let's just call her "Kar". She would come and pray with me and two other Native American brothers.
As my faith and spirituality came back I would take time to myself to read and study about Love. For the past 14 years 1 have written essays on Love, and I have read books and about 2000 quotes on Love. I walk what I believe, I try to teach when I can about LOve and life. I use tobacco to pray, and water to give thanks to Mother Earth, I take from all religions. I got my strength back, I was at peace with myself. Some say I'm a Shaman, "I'm a Seeker," S I began doing what I had been doing for 14 years, carry the Pipe
at times, and teaching all who camp my way. We had a ghost feast,August, 2005, it was so beautiful, i had fasted for four days. I was at peace. Oneness!
I will never forget my social worker, "Kar",she gave me some tobacco and told me her prayer, as she talked to me tears ran down her face, my heart was touched. I have seen her pain. We walked over to the Sacred Fire. T taught her how to pray, then I walked her around the Scared Fire. I then said a prayer for all the things her beautiful heart had shared with me. What a great day, the sweat itself something; Buddy Powless, a holy Man had also had his family from South Dakota; the Great Spirit was with us. Buddy ran a powerful lodge. After the sweat, we had a beautiful and peaceful feast.i gave cards to Buddy, Bill, Kar, an deven the Chaplain of WRC. That was one of the best Ghost Feasts in prison for me. My heart was full of love for all things.
I have to say 1 felt "Him" within me. My Mom had came from California to see me; we had great time together. I had a death again in my family, then two more, but deathis life; pleaseunderstand, yes. it's painful but also a joy.
Well things were cooing to an end for ire at URC, I would be sent
to it new prison, but I was OK with this because I was walking within
the light. I felt I had learnad all I could at WRC, I had love
for all. One day I was coning back from the music room, me and
Mr. Gleason had a great time playing music that day, music is love.
The next thing I knew I was being handcuffed and placed in segregation on investigation; the next day I was told I was under investigation fcr soliciting my social worker, Kar. I could not believe it. Now she is a beautiful looking woman, but she is happily married. I was so angry, 1 didn't know what to do or really say. I had given her cards, but f had also given 28 other staff members cards,and I told her I loved her, but I told all the other staff that I alsoloved them as well as other inmates. I have written a 60 page essay titled, "The Accumulation of Secular and Religious Ideals of Love;" I had given out fifty of them to inmates and staff.
Now I was placed in segregation on a Tuesday, and on Friday 1 was moved from WRC to Redgranlte Correctiona1 Institution, and placed in aggregation there. This is the first time I have ever gone through anything like this, I was told nothing a: all, i did not-even get to call my family or anyone else, to Let them know what was up. I was so angry, I could have hurt someone but I kept it all inside me, I was then told 1 would have a hearing, concerning soliciting staff. I was given a hearing, I was found guilty and given 360 days in segregation; 1 was so angry, I felt I could call these people every name in the book; I didn't know what I would do, I felt lost.
I should say it all started because another staff saw the card I had given Kar on her office wall and wrote me the conduct report. This action made me so angry, sad, hurt, I sent Mom a very angry letter telling her to forget about me, that I don't need to be thinking about the outside world right now. I'd have to say 98% of what I'd say I will do, I am going to do. As I sit here in this cell I started thinking about my beliefs, how we should love this and that, and I began to look deep within myself, and I found something about myself, coming into this cell with much anger and hatred, I'd lost contact with God, and I became like those that put me in this cell.
I thought about why I was placed in this life, and I began to put into practice what I believe in, to love all life. I got back into meditation and prayer, I was no longer angry, I was in contact with God, so there was no room for anger. I had to put my "ego" down, that's what Lord Jesus, Dr. king, Gandhi, Mother Theresa did, they put their egos down. I remember how when I was nut Hi the Sweat and in my oneness 1 did not see that fence, that kept me from my brothers and sisters, "No," I was in the light, I saw Wako-Tonka, God surrounding me, I feel God's hands around me, and I am finding myself.
One more great thing to happen was that 1 was given a book titled, Houses of Healing. A prisoner's Guide to Inner Power and Freedom, By Robin Casarjian. It Is extraordinary' And it isn"t just for people in prison, but for anyone who wants peace within themselves. Reading this brought me into my oneness, and what great joy I found in this most beautiful cell. I wrote my friends and asked them please don't pray that I get out of this cell, but. please pray that I learn all that God has for me. Pray that 1 am a more loving man when I walk out of here.
I remember H.E". Davey said, "it's not The top, It's the climb."
From time to time students of Budo (Martial Arts) wonder if the large amount of time they are putting into their practices is worth what they are getting out of 1t. The Master answers, "While this seems to be a reasonable question, it actually reveals a fundamental lack of understanding. The time that one puts into the practice of an art is what one is getting out of it. It is the process of training that is truly valuable, not some eventual goal. All of life truly exists only at this instant."
Now something funny happened a few days ago, the Chaplain here came by my cell and we talked, he asked if I was new, [ said yes, we spoke some more about this and that, then he asked ma why I was in segregation. I told him that I had told my social worker I loved her in a card, and that I have also told other male staff the same. He said, "oh, oh, you can't do that!" I then showed him a copy of a card, for a stuff member, where staff and inmates had signed together and I had written in this card, I love you. The Chaplain said 1 should not have written, but what: gets me is here is a minister, a man of God, telling me I shouldn't tell people I love them. If I believe something and this is my walk in life I have taken, then shouldn't my words be a mirror
of myself? In the Chaplain's bible it gays, "Beloved, let us love
one another; for love is of God; and everyone that loveth is born
of God, and knowa God." 1 John 4:7
"A friend Loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity."
Proverbs 17:17
"Great men cultivate love...only llttle men cherish a spirit of
hatred." Booker T. Washington
Now let me tell you what bothered me, if this man, who said he is a minister, tells me to never say I love someone just because they work for DOC. This is not me at all; that, that I believe in is Divine, it's not sometimes, it's all the time.
If I'm to be a better man. when I walk out of prison, wouldn't you want me to be a person who loves all life, and respects you all. I must be about what I believe in, it a way of life. I'd like to extend another quote about life and death; I do so because I want to be clear.
"...Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For me to live is Christ, and die is gain. For I am in a strait between two, having a desire to depart and to be with Christ; which is far better." Phllippians 1:20,21,23 As I have said my father was a minister for 65 years of his life and one thing he always told me, it would be a Joy for him when death comes for he will be going home. And I do believe that my pain was selfish, my want that was mv pain, a son wanting his father to see him do good, 1 have a joy for my father for he lived a good life.
"The spiritual path is not for those who need it, (since we all do) but for those who want it. Take it through commitment. All paths lead to hidden treasures of love, wholeness, and a sense of peace beyond and peace possible without the spiritual dimension of life." House of Healing, by Robin Casarjian.
I do have 360 days in segregation, this journey is not over for I only have Just begun to fight. I could not have made it this far without the help of family and friends. So I thank my Mom, Lynn, Peggy Swan who has become a great friend, my brother Anthony, my brother Thomas Peralta, his friendship, his love, his prayers, and his meditation of positive energy he sends my way. (he is a good musician, we had a great time playing together). I thank Vance Hernandez-Smith, a friend and legal partner.
I have a long way to go on this journey, and I pray I will be able to take DOC to court and show I had done nothing wrong other than try to love all and respect all. When 1 say love all, I don't care who you believe you are. Youare not ever too big or too small to be loved. You may call yourself Warden, or guard, or even President, I have love for you. See in what I believe in, I have love for even a tree, my love is for all things.
I think of an old Cherokee story, I love to tell, and of which I will give you a short version:

A grandfather tells his grandson of two wolves who were always fighting with each other; one is the good wolf and the other is the evil wolf. The grandson asks his grandfather which one wins, the grandfather looks into his grandson's beautiful little eyes and says, whichever one you choose to feed

"I have no commitment to anger, but to love. I have no commitment to hatred, but to love. Everyone prays in their own language and there is no language that God does not understand." Duke Ellington.

It has been written: The English word "crisis" means, great danger or trouble. The Chinese word for "Crisis" means both danger and opportunity.

I also want to thank my two Spiritual leaders, Buddy Powless, and Ground Shaker for teaching me how to walk in nothingness. For I have truly learned hov to be "Nothing." I want to thank my beautiful OJIBWA brother Dennis Miller, for over 15 years we have been friends and have shared the life of the Red Road, I say to you, Migwegch.

I want to share a little more about one person in my life, Ms. Peggy Swan, she was given a Native name. Morning Dove, because she advocates peace, she is o messenger of peace and comfort. She is the One. This quote I learned from her: "It gives great freeriom-1 do not need to judge you-your own Karma is not my business-! can have my opinion, can like or dislike, but "good and evil" is not my domain. I have my own special lens as do you, and each is needed."
In closing, I go back to Houses of Hea1ing, the author, Robin Casarjian, takes from author Robert Kock, in his book, Scared Eyes:
"Love is the very core and essence of is not that might like love to be central, or that we would wish it were more important. It is not that If we could design the perfect world we would put love at the center. The suggestion here is that love is the essential energy of the universe- we just haven't fully appreciated that fact." Robin Casarjian then quotes author Marianne Williamson, "We can't look to the world to restore our worth; cannot crown us, only God can crown us. and He already has...Do not look to the world for your sustenance, or for your identity because you will not find them there. "No matter how others feel toward you, God adores you,"
Now please let me say this, just because I believe in love. I'm not asking anyone to let me out of prison, when my time comes, it will come. All I'm doing is sharing a part of my own journey. be continued...

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Frederick Spence Tells His Story

RE: Perceptions of Parole Fredrick Spence 132827
Columbia Corr. Inst.
P.O. Box 900
Portage, WI 53901

To Whom It May Concern

Merced, CA was a solemn town, you could say that it was a Brady Bunch sort of atmosphere; everyone was friendly thus growing up there I did not experience or encounter discrimination, any form of neither prejudice nor racism. My parents are two extraordinary people who raised their children properly and up to common standards with much emphasis on family values and common morals. My mother, "Gloria Spence" is 75 years old today and a retired school teacher. My father, "Reverend F.H. Spence" passed away at the age of 92, and he was also a retired school teacher. Our parents educated us well and pushed us to further our education. Neither one has had a criminal record, nor neither did I until the crime I am incarcerated for.

Not only was it a surprise but an astounding shock to everyone I had ever known when a jury of my peers found me guilty of this heinous crime, the taking of another's life, an innocent human being.
In 1982 I found myself on a bus trip to the state penitentiary. Indeed, it was a hard pill to swallow especially at such a young age surrounded by grown men who were season criminals and gang members. One had to adjust quickly and cautiously. Of course I received conduct reports, although not as many as others for violating rules. My family's teachings and fundamental values remained with me and also created the man I am blessed to be. Over the years I developed goals, added morals, values and attained maturity: mental, emotional, and spiritual through obstacles, trials and tribulations; And I have been blessed to have met the people who have been an inspiration to me and provided guidance in many aspects as well as love. These people have also been there for me through the loss of my father who died of natural causes, and my brother "Fred Spence Jr." who was a Taxi Cab driver for over 20 years in Chicago where he was killed by someone that got into the back seat of his cab and shot him then stole five dollars from him. This experience was very traumatizing, my brother and I were very close. The loss of a loved one is inconceivable because you have always loved and enjoyed life with this person, loved ones who keep us in balance during those inevitable times of grief or stress. From playing in the sand box or mimicking wrestling moves on each other from a wrestling show, to discussing musical techniques for an upcoming concert.

No-one ever thinks about how it would impact them if this loved one suddenly was taken from you and your family and until it really happens one truly does feel the nightmare loss where unspeakable sorrow swells from the core of your humanity and relinquishes agony that can not be summoned by your will, for will doesn't want anything to do with that utter horrible feeling, because that emotional, mental and spiritual agony does not know any alliance or correlation with any other sense of feeling. It is a broken connection to the living where one questions to the sky above to the sudden loss and detachment. You find your heart, spirit, and your mind on their knees screaming with their fists to the sky asking why did this happen, what purpose was there behind this, with knowing you will never be able to see their smile, those details that defined their character and personality where admiration or fondness arose to the occasion of bringing that gift of spark to ones life at any time, any moment of the day, year, or trial and tribulation..
Through the loss of my father (who's love, security, wisdom, and guidance I had sought since the day I was born) and brother it was then I discovered the realization of what my victim's family, relatives, and loved ones, those she had ever known, what it was like to be in their position, their tragic and nightmare that they experience and endure to this day. The moment when they received the dreading phone call to either identify the victim's body or to hear the words: "I'm sorry to be the one to tell you this, but your daughter/sister was murdered... I am truly sorry for your loss..." The blow of that horrible news must have blown their spirits, their human essence to the abyss of pain, sorrow, and suffering where no one knew how long it would last, if it even was heard of that it would extinguish itself but that it isn't true, it resides itself, never ever leaving.
I am unmistakably, undoubtedly sorry for their loss, everything the victim's family, relatives, all her loved ones went through and continue to go through. I have no excuses nor have I even attempted to fathom an excuse or justification for this senseless murder at any time of my incarceration.

The death of my father and brother effected me in more ways than one; the death of my brother at times it distracted me to the point that I has even smoked marijuana to "get away" from it, to venture off mentally and emotionally without having to endure the loss and thought that the two people I loved most, besides my mother, were gone. Wrong choice indeed, but we learn as we tread on this path we call life where we learn from our mistakes, wrong choices/decisions... there is not one human being who is perfect, never has been, never will be from the biggest mistake to the smallest.

I knew Sheila Davis and her family well enough to say she was a vibrant person, very intelligent, had zest for life and was caring. Sheila Davis was robbed of her life, she had so much to give to the community as well as to her loved ones who loved her deeply and Sheila Davis was the spark which ignited happiness that her loved ones always sought each time they seen her, their faces lit up with an aura so bright. She was to become a mother, and an opulent mother she would have been because of how well her family raised her and the attributes she had attained on her own she would have utilized them to raise her child and a well child he/she would have been and grown up to be.

This has been the most difficult ordeal I have ever dealt with. There is no question about it. Prison life has dealt me unique and complicated cards.

As I moved along with this prison term I have experienced and seen many things; how can one not after doing 27 years in prison, it's a long time. So, in the beginning of my incarceration I hadn't noticed anything disputatious at my first parole hearing or conspicuous, prejudice, or ceramic racism.

However, what I discovered and realized was that my upbringing in the suburbs of California nave made me naive and inadvertently turned a blind eye to the racial discrimination of people of color beyond the curtains of cement walls and steel doors, not to forget smiles in suits... its existence came to view when news organizations such as 20/20, Dateline, and others gathered statistics showing the discrepancies of people of color at their parole hearings and even incarceration and the high probability of them being discriminated against based on color and not granting their release. It was this that compelled me to do my own research and promptly obtain as much information possible to conclude whether I am or am not being discriminated myself.

First, I came across a newspaper article where "Thomas Hammerich" was convicted in Germantown, WI (1981) for second-degree murder, attempted murder and armed robbery. Then during his incarceration he received an additional 16 years. So he had a total of 76 years on his sentence. In 1994 Hammerich was released by the Parole Commission into the custody of federal immigration officials to be deported back to Germany where he will be a free man. (Exhibit A attached).

Second, another article done by the Journal Times was of "Patrick Arrowood" who was convicted of the murder of "Heidi Hafeman" in 1980 and was paroled later in his incarceration.

Through out my incarceration I met hundreds of prisoners, in particularly lifers. So, I did research, part of which was gathering as much information; I accumulated and compiled the names of some of these lifers (all white) who have heinous crimes and were sent to minimum custody prison and/or later released, or simply released without even transitioning to a minimum custody prison. The two most distinctive prisoners of this compilation are of "Harlan C. Richards" who was once convicted of murder, released, returned back to prison for another murder (first degree) and then in 2002 he was transferred to a minimum custody prison...
"Dane Lo Hedstrom", who is the vice president of the Prison Motorcycle Brotherhood Gang in Green Bay, came to prison in 1981 and while at Green Bay prison he received an Adult Conduct Report for stabbing another prisoner. He was later transferred to a minimum prison in 1996 where he told the Program Review Classification (PRC) that he was going to escape, and they sent him back to a maximum prison. (See exhibit C of Compilation of Racial Discrimination).

What further substantiated this was a true eye opener, not only to me, but across the nation was this panel that Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle formulated to investigate and target "Racial Disparity" in the Wisconsin Criminal Justice System. Indeed, this had and still has me flabbergasted because it stated in an article done by " Tom Held" of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Exhibit D attached) that "Wisconsin a national leader in a bad category: the racial disparity in prisoners behind bars..." "That disparity in Wisconsin, roughly 18 to 1, puts the state third in the nation..." Clearly, this isn't ones vivid imagination if the Governor acknowledges racial discrimination (towards Latinos, Native Americans, and Blacks) at various points in the criminal justice system ranging from of course prisoners behind bars, "police officers deciding whether to make an arrest; prosecutors deciding what charges to file; and judges who issue different sentences to different defendants for similar crimes." (Tom Held, Milw. Journal Sentinel)

I have had five parole hearings to no avail of reduced custody to a minimum facility or grant for my release (obviously). Although my first two parole hearings were conventional based on the fact that to their surprise I made it this far in my prison term. I had no expectations that I was going to be released; it would have been wishful thinking because no one is really released at their first or second hearing. But as I became more educated, experienced, and aware of the changes which took place between people of color and non-color, in which whites were graciously receiving these reduced custody transfers to minimums and/or later released from these confinements, while those who had a skin pigment of brown or black did not receive the equal opportunities as those of whites. It wasn't until my third, fourth, and most recently noticeably my fifth parole hearing that I realized I am being discriminated against. At my most recent parole hearing dated 11-01-07 Commissioner White Stated: "your concerns about the Wisconsin Prison system claiming that you have been the victim of discrimination and injustices, and would have been released by now if you were not a person of color..." (Exhibit E). In my statement to the parole commission (Exhibit F) I said: "jury of my peers that I must have committed the crime and for that I am truly sorry. Words cannot express the shame and regret I feel everyday for my actions..." I said the same thing in a 1996 statement to the parole commission (Exhibit G) which reiterates the responsibility I take for the taking of another life. All of these statements are in my prison file and criminal file. Not taking responsibility for this crime is far fetched and quite intangible since I have always taken the responsibility for this crime. This reinforces and substantiates the clear evidence that Commissioner White did not review my file which is imperative by the parole commission guidelines and dictated by state law. Social worker Ms. Bradley can attest that this statement was submitted because it was submitted by her. In addition, Commissioner White did not bother to read the letters submitted by family, relatives, and friends vouching for my character, and requesting my release; nor my parole plan which provides clear depiction of my goals, plans, place of residence, occupation and programs I completed that Commissioner White dubbed and quoted as "voluntary" programs as if to take away from the fundamental values and positive effects these programs have had on me and countless other prisoners. Obviously, if these programs didn't have an ounce of rehabilitate prospect and propriety then these "voluntary" programs wouldn't exist within the prison system. Apparently though, according to the parole commission that these 65 "voluntary" programs were done in vain.

As for having no memory of the crime, that night I was drinking heavily, smoking marijuana laced with PCP to top it off, it's in my court transcripts, medical and clinical files. There's no doubt that I was not in the right state of mind, if your drunk your vision becomes a blur, speech slurs, and mind unaware of the surroundings, then to add to that I was high from marijuana and PCP, a very, very bad combination; it is no wonder why I was passed out in a garage. And if I would have known the PCP was in the marijuana I would not have smoked it. These past 27 years I have tried so hard to resurrect the memory of that horrible crime, but I can not. A combination of those three substances can and will do that to your memory, its scientifically and medically proven those substances kill a tremendous amount of brain cells, there are more than enough reasons why it is illegal. So, I cam to the conclusion that if a jury of my peers found me guilty of this horrific crime then I must have done it; I have said before and I will say it again, that is why it is incomprehensible why Commissioner White would claim that I take no responsibility for what occurred since all of this is in my statements and file, not to forget the tape recording of the parole hearing.

District Attorney Genrich's testimony at the trial added to my uncertainty of guilt as he stated: "This case is going to be a bitterly fought case, based on circumstantial evidence, with no eye witness. The circumstantial evidence is of such a nature that some of it is not inconsistent with a reasonable hypothesis of innocence. It is going to be a very tough case. It is not inconceivable even that we have the wrong person."

The question remains to some "why should I be paroled?" It is undisputed that I am no longer a "party-goer", one who wants to party all the time and do drugs without thinking of the consequences. At the time of the crime I was 22 years old and I am now 50 years old; indeed, it is a huge change and many years have gone by. But with years came knowledge and wisdom. It isn't in my mind, spirit, and body to do anything that will jeopardize my freedom and/or harm another human being for that matter. Throughout my incarceration not one violent act was done by me: No fights, no stabbings, nothing which would indicate I am a violent person. These 65 programs I participated in and successfully completed have taught me many things and to some extent made me the man I am today. I didn't have to take them; instead I took the initiative to take them to learn and help others, as well as help myself. I do have everything going for me when I am released: support system, a good job working with my family and their real estate business, a good home to reside at until I am able to buy a home for my own, and a zest for life to become a hard working citizen and enjoy life in ways that don't involve drugs or breaking the law. I can only repay society through these ways and I will continue to seek other ways in which others can benefit from my experience from the young to the old. I know people and continue to meet wonderful human beings who do so much for others and it is their qualities that enhance my own, and these are the kind of people I choose to surround myself and my family with.

The path that I walk today is that of a Native American where spirituality dictates attitude and behavior. It is through spirituality that has been an important role in my growth to maturity: mentally, emotionally, and physically. In the Native ways one doesn't allow verbal action to speak the true path of someone who does well and wants to do well and live in prosperity. I have been taught by my parents, elders, and spiritual leaders that in order to attain the higher level of enlightenment and happiness one must first self-evaluate to identify those characteristics that are contrary to law, morals, values, and effects interaction with other human beings; then begin to live by action rather than verbalization. This I have done and although it took time I got there and like all people no matter the age we continue to grow and that is what makes it fascinating and worth living, things can only get better. Over the years, I have became a student of listening and learning from other ways of life/religions because each belief and practice teaches good and condemns the negativity; and of course with much emphasis on those who have lived a negative life can turn around by doing a 180 degree turn and rectify their wrongs.

The parole commission refuses to allow themselves to see beyond the Vail of skin-pigmentation and look within the man I am today. Judge me not by my color, but rather personal observation of myself and through the many eyes of those who know me best and become a voice for me...

"We only ask an even chance to live as other man. We ask to be recognized as men. We ask that the same laws shall work alike on all men... let me be a free man... free to work, free to think and act and talk for myself, and I will obey every law, or submit to the penalty."(Chief Joseph, 1879).
Sincerely, Fredrick Spence (11-01-07)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Standing Bear's case for Parole

Fredrick Spence #132827 (Bahaman and Native American)

To begin, I will provides some background: Arrested on November 21, 1981 for the murder of a woman by the name of "Sheila Davis"; first criminal history and given a life sentence. I was 22 years at the time and am now 50. I have been incarcerated 27 years. I am presently incarcerated at Columbia Correctional Institution and I have seen the parole commission five times. The last action was 11-1-07 when I received a 12 month deferral.
I have not been problematic since incarceration, with no fights, no stabbings, or any violent outbursts. I have an H.SE.D., year and a half college credit and have completed 65 successful programs. These programs have rehabilitative prospects and propriety, they undoubtedly contributed to my growth as a man and as a human being.
There have been countless letters of support to vouch for my character and requesting my release. People who know me personally, know how I conduct myself, my plans, the goals and achievements. Letters include accommodations from wardens, from the Mayor of Appleton, MN, and from a correctional officer and State Representative Marcia P Coggs. My mother and siblings have also written letters by which I will be residing at and working at the family real estate business. All are verified.
In my last 27 years, it has been more than enough time for me to ponder my strengths, weaknesses and crimes. I have used my time to better myself as a man and learned how to contribute to the community instead of taking from it, such as the life of Ms Davis, whom I am truly sorry and remorseful for her death. I believe, as well as many others, this is my first and last incarceration based on the changes, achievements and the people and officers I've met in my life who helped me along my path.

NOTE: we have a letter from Fredrick Spence's brother attesting to the fact that Fredrick has used his time well and is rehabilitated. he also lists the incredible amount of programs Frederick has taken and donations he has made to worthy causes. We also have Frederick's letter to the parole commission . Here are a couple of paragraphs that are important:

Frederick's Letter to the Parole Commission

RE: Parole Consideration for Inmate Frederick Spence # 132827
Dear Parole Commissioner,
I am respectfully submitting this statement on my behalf in order to provide you with some insight and understanding of my sincere request for consideration of Parole.
As the Parole Commission is already aware, I was arrested on November 21, 1981 for the murder of Ms. Sheila Davis. This was my first felony conviction and I received a Life Sentence.
I would like you to know that in no way do I attempt to make an excuse for such a horrendous and inhumane crime. I'm sure the Committee is aware that I cannot recollect the events that took place on the night of Ms. Davis's death. Throughout my incarceration this sense of not knowing has caused me much grief. It has driven me to serious self-examination and to participate in any programming that has been available to me; in order to come to terms with my actions, who I am, and who I want to be.
District Attorney Gengrich's testimony at the trial added to my uncertainty as he stated:

This case is going to be a bitterly fought case, based on circumstantial evidence, with no eye witness. The. circumstantial evidence is of such a nature that some of it is not inconsistent with a reasonable hypothesis of innocence. It is going to be a very tough case. It is not inconceivable even, that we have the wrong person.
These words by the Prosecuting Attorney, along with an "inconclusive" voluntary Polygraph test taken in 1987 that did not confirm my guilt in this murder, have added to my confusion and the denial of taking Ms. Davis's life.
However, in the midst of trying to find the truth for myself, and through in-depth soul searching I have come to the conclusion, as did a Jury of my Peers, that I must have committed the crime and for that I am truly sorry. Words cannot express the shame and regret I feel everyday for my actions. I apologize deeply to the Davis family and to Society for taking someone away that was loved dearly. I am sorry for the pain and loss I have caused them. I hope and pray for forgiveness from the Davis family and from Society and will spend my life trying to make amends wherever it's possible.
While I may not completely understand or feel the same pain or sense of loss that they have endured, I have prayed for peace and comfort to surround them. I have recently lost my Father who died of old age and my Brother who died from foul play, both of whom, I was very close to. So I can somewhat relate to the pain that my actions have caused the Davis family as well as my own family. I say this with the deepest regret because I can't begin to explain how I could have taken the life of another Human Being, especially the life of a woman that I knew and who had never caused me any form of emotional or physical harm. As a Native American and as a man, I am deeply ashamed and filled with sorrow and despair because my Parents taught me to respect everyone and as a Native American I was raised to respect all life. I have, throughout my incarceration, embraced my Native American Heritage and I more fully understand its teachings and it offers me guidance to live my life differently and change who I am as a person and the actions that I take.
I cannot begin to express how the acknowledgement of my actions, which caused the death of Ms. Davis, has greatly affected me. I have let down my Parents, the Davis Family, my Community and Society. I know that this sorrow will stay with me for the rest of my life. However, this pain serves as a constant reminder for me to live a productive and positive life, to accept responsibility, be accountable and to make good choices for myself and others.
I hope that the Parole Board will allow me another opportunity to become a part of Society. I was a young and immature man at the time I committed this crime. I was 23 years old, without a real sense of direction or a positive outlook on life. I have matured over the 26 years I have been incarcerated by the Grace and Mercy of God. I have participated in 65 different programs, which I have attached, that the Department of Corrections has offered me. I have made significant changes and I have learned many new skills. In particular, I have learned to be aware of my thought patterns and my negative thinking and replace them with positive thoughts and actions.
In March I graduated from the Restorative Justice Program and I am currently enrolled in Moral Reconation Therapy with Dr. Vandenbrook and Ms. Neef. I have written a.74 page Thesis entitled: "The Accumulation of Secular and Religious Ideals of Love" which I have given out to various groups and members. I also donated a 60 person bus to the "Good News Ambassador Ministry", headed by Rev. Walter Googlette Jr. of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I also work with Ms. Karen Murphy-Smith, the co-founder of the Angela Davis Cop Watch Organization, which campaigns for the betterment and up­lifting of America's Youth and educates others to prevent racial profiling. Ms. Murphy-Smith and I have been able to work with Native American and African American populations throughout Wisconsin to bring about an alliance that will build a better and more meaningful life for youth, and poverty-stricken persons and their communities. On July 20,2000 the Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Counsel of Wisconsin, which includes 11 Federally recognized Indian Tribes, passed a resolution in support of the Alliance. I have also helped raise/donate $750.00 to: AIDS WALKATON. a Prison based group that had a goal to raise $1,255.00 to help persons living with this deadly disease, this program was directed by Mr. Dan A. Buchler. Acting Warden. I also participated in other Prison Programs such as Project Aware, a counseling Program for Juveniles at Kettle Moraine Correctional Institution.
My remaining need is for Drug and Alcohol Programming. I have participated in the past, but I have not completed. I would like to take this program, although they do not provide it here at Columbia.
My plan is to apply for an Inter-State compact agreement with the State of California, to have my parole transferred there if possible. I have a stable place to live there with my Mother, Mrs. Gloria Spence, 16011 Regency Ranch Road Riverside, California 92504. Her phone number is: 951-776-2138. My Mother is a highly respected citizen and teacher of years, to whom I will be accountable.
I will have employment with my Family's company Spence and Spence Real Estate. I will most likely begin as an Office Manager.
I have also studied and taught Music prior to my incarceration and will continue to work toward a career involving music as well.
I hope this letter conveys to you that I have worked hard over the past 26 years to become a totally different person than when I committed the tragic crime against Ms. Davis. I am a responsible adult and I believe that if the Committee gives me a chance, I can demonstrate that I am worthy of receiving another chance in Society and be a law-abiding and productive citizen.
Thank You for your time, services and consideration. Respectfully Submitted,
Mr. Frederick Spence # 132827 In Person/Box 900 (CCI) Portage, WI53901-0900


Two by Standing Bear
The Twilight of Dawn

In the early morning’s darkness,
I walk alone because you’re gone,
Listening to the Ocean Waves,
Harmonize their lonely song
And gulls join in a chorus
Seem to question what went wrong,
Where is my Morning Star
In the twilight of the dawn.
Before the shadows have awakened
While flowing breakers wash the shore
I await the morning star rise
To erase this blue decor
And when I see the breathless skyline
Come alive when night is gone,
I will search the heavens for you
In the twilight of the dawn.
Then I hear you softly whisper,
And loving words wake sleepy eyes,
And I was only dreaming,
Lonely dreams-I realize
Now my heart is overflowing
With love all new and strong
And my darling Morning Start I love you
In the twilight of the dawn.

Hope and Trust

In the heart where hope present
There burns a living fire
Shedding light upon the future
Fanning it with desire.

Hope stands with one door open,
Inviting the seeker inside,
But cannot chase away the doubts
Or the fear where they hide.

Trust comes when we seeker have asked to be blessed,
Have accepted the courage given as a gift if our quests.
Then having inner knowing, with Great Mystery, by our side,
We trust that when we get there,
Every door will open wide.
Mountain Dreamer Speaks
by Orah, Mountain Dreamer, Indian Elder

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing. It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shriveled and closed for fear of further pain! I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it, or fade it, or fix it. I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own, if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, be realistic, or to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself; if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul. I want to know if you can be faithful and therefore be trustworthy. I want to know if you can see beauty even though it’s not pretty everyday, and if you can source your life on the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the moon.

It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up after a night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done for the children.

It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me where or what or whom you studied. I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.