27 February, 2014

Show Your Support with a Click: An Update on My Pardon Application Process

The crux of my 2011 “Show Your Support with a Click” post was a plea for Pariah’s Syntax readers to voice their support of my pardon application by following a link to the Free Byron case petition. More than 1,200 have done so, sending the message to Governor Jay Nixon that they are aware of the injustice of my wrongful imprisonment and want me released.

To those who have signed, your support means the world to me. It took courage to overcome the prejudice created by the jury’s verdict, to review the facts on your own, to discover my wrongful conviction and, most courageous of all, speak truth to power by adding your name to (or even signing anonymously) that petition. Really, thank you.

At this point, the Office of the Governor has held my pardon application under consideration for two and a half years. According to the Missouri Board of Probation and Parole, who administer much of the pardon process, most requests for executive clemency (including commutations, reprieves, and pardons alike) are decided within eighteen to twenty-four months. The few applicants I know here were almost all rejected within three or four. What does this delay mean for my chances? No matter the merits of an applicant’s case, asking the governor of any state for a pardon is a long shot, but there are a few factors that help my odds.
  • In a meeting with one of Governor Nixon’s legal advisors, it was clear to my representatives that details of my case are well understood by the Governor’s staff. There being no “smoking gun” involved, my case takes this kind of close attention to comprehend. The deeper you look into it, the more the arguments for my guilt fall apart. In short, knowing the details as they do, they ought to be convinced of my innocence.
  • I’m a model prisoner. In this violent maximum-security facility where I’ve lost the past twelve years, I’ve only ever received two conduct violations. One was for having a pen pal ad (if you need an explanation, read this post). The other was for having a contraband sheet of four adhesive Avery file-folder labels in my cell. No fights, no insubordination, and none of the violent behavior someone with the homicidal urges my accusers claim I have should’ve surfaced at least once in all these years.
  • I have a lot of support from a group of fantastic people. Friends have sent numerous letters to the Governor, attesting to my character and their willingness to give me all sorts of assistance if I’m released: places to stay, transportation, employment, and so on. My transition back into the world wouldn’t be a burden on society, the way the average prisoner’s would.
Do these points actually mean anything, practically speaking? The decision to pardon or not to pardon is purely a political matter, not a judicial one, so the return of my freedom ultimately depends on what the public seems to think. And who is the public? You are.

I started blogging because a friend convinced me that putting my thoughts out there to be read would help people know me better as a person, not as a case, a caricature, or a cause. Is it working? Am I being understood? The number of readers this blog attracts in a week, versus the number of petition signatures collected, tells me no — that many people can shrug off an innocent man’s life being taken because of his teenage friends’ death pact. Two lives are already lost, they might as well say, so what’s one more? That’s exactly what my sentence of life without parole means: without your help, I’ll die in prison.

But not quickly. In the decades to come, there will be losses to bear as my loved ones fall away. I’ll awaken to this purgatory every morning with the knowledge that a little more time has slipped away, feeling that I’m a half-step closer to the grave myself — an end that I can only hope is sudden, so that I might be spared the physical agony of illness in the fumbling, negligent “care” of prison doctors. I’ve been sentenced to life, but it’s no way to live.

Please go to the Petition Site and sign. Please.

1 comment:

  1. There are just too many cases of miscarriage of justice. I feel really sorry for people whose lives were wasted during their prison time. Aside from that, even if they’ve managed to get pardons, they would still struggle for the rest of their lives because the society tend to outcast former convicts. I hope more people would support your cause. Let’s hope for the best.

    Stephanie Waters @ Chastaine Law


Byron does not have Internet access. Pariahblog.com posts are sent from his cell by way of a secure service especially for prisoners' use. We do read him your comments, however, and he enjoys hearing your thoughts very much.