[Ppnews] 30-Year Sentence Ended – Why is Model Prisoner Behind Bars?

Political Prisoner News PPnews at freedomarchives.org
Tue Oct 4 08:43:18 EDT 2005



30-Year Sentence Ended – Why is Model Prisoner Behind Bars?

Published on: October 4th, 2005 12:01am by: 
<http://www.theopenpress.com/forums/index.php?showuser=280>thatprguy

Coleman, FL (OPENPRESS) October 4, 2005 -- Concerned citizens across the 
country are calling upon the U.S. Parole Commission to approve the release 
of Veronza Bowers, Jr. who remains in prison 18 months past the expiration 
of a 30-year sentence he had already completed serving.

Mr. Bowers, a model prisoner lauded by prison officials, was scheduled for 
mandatory parole on April 7, 2004. Mandatory parole is required by statute 
after a prisoner has completed his full sentence if a record of positive 
institutional adjustment is achieved and the inmate is not considered to be 
a "threat to society" upon release.

Four different Parole Examiners, as well as the U.S. Parole Commission 
(USPC) itself, the most powerful parole authority in the nation, agree that 
Mr. Bowers has complied with these prerequisites. In spite of this, just 
minutes before his April 7th release, the USPC rescinded his parole at the 
request of a law enforcement lobby group known as the Fraternal Order of 
Police (FOP), which claimed to have evidence that Bowers had violated 
prison rules. At a subsequent hearing, FOP claims were dismissed as 
unsubstantiated and a new parole date was set. After the hearing, the 
national president of the FOP stated that he was “appalled” by the USPC 
decision to release Mr. Bowers, and that the FOP “must act to protect the 
public from the U.S. Parole Commission.” The FOP then lobbied the U.S. 
Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, to intervene and, as a result, Mr. 
Bowers has languished in prison over 18 months past his scheduled release 
date.

How is it possible for a U.S. citizen to serve his complete sentence under 
the law and still be held in prison this long after his sentence expires? 
This is particularly baffling in the case of Veronza Bowers, Jr., who has 
exhibited unique abilities to help others and improve himself on all levels 
during more than 30 years of incarceration.

To many, his accomplishments in prison are nothing short of astounding. 
Deeply committed to a spiritual faith and practice, Mr. Bowers founded and 
led the All-Faith Meditation Group. An interest in healing motivated him to 
study the ancient healing arts and philosophy of China and Japan. He has 
helped inmates both physically and spiritually overcome obstacles to their 
health and personal development. Mr. Bowers has also been honored by the 
Native American community as an honorary elder for his support and teaching 
of their spiritual and cultural practices.

On a daily basis, he has worked with at-risk youth, inmates with 
anger-management problems and as a mentor and tutor for prisoners with 
learning disabilities. Numerous prison officials have relied on him as an 
intermediary in dealing with the most difficult inmates. At one facility, 
Mr. Bowers helped to disarm a fellow inmate and save a prison guard from 
harm. He was given a letter of commendation for this intervention.

Mr. Bowers has served the last twenty-one years of his incarceration 
without a single violation of prison rules or "incident report", an 
accomplishment that is virtually unheard of. His efforts to gain parole 
have been supported by numerous prison officials, attorneys, former members 
of regional and the U.S. Parole Commission itself and even a member of the 
U.S. Congress. He has the support of distinguished professionals and public 
servants most of whom have never before advocated for a prison inmate.

Mr. Bowers was convicted in the murder of a U.S. Park Ranger on the word of 
two informants, who had been charged with the crime, along with Mr. Bowers. 
These two men had both been convicted of armed bank robbery. However, in 
exchange for their testimony against Mr. Bowers, both had all charges 
against them dropped in connection with their part in the murder of the 
park ranger. In addition one of the informants served no time in connection 
with his bank robbery conviction for which he had been sentenced to 12 
years in prison and was paid $10,000 after entering the witness protection 
program, according to the Prosecuting Attorney's post trial transcripts. 
There were no other eye-witnesses independent of these informants to link 
Mr. Bowers to the crime. At his trial, Mr. Bowers, who testified on his own 
behalf, and his wife offered alibi testimony which was not credited by the 
jury. Nor was testimony of two relatives of the informants who insisted 
that they were lying. Mr. Bowers has consistently proclaimed his innocence 
of the crime he claims he never committed even at the expense of having his 
appeals for parole denied--for which an admission of guilt and contrition 
as an expression of remorse is virtually required--he has insisted on 
maintaining his innocence.

Mr. Bowers conviction occurred during the FBI’s infamous COINTELPRO 
operations which used covert and illegal actions to eradicate civil rights, 
political and peace organizations. Veronza Bowers, Jr. has moved past this 
controversy, however, as have his family, friends and supporters. This 
group is now focusing on convincing the U.S. Parole Commission to follow 
the rule of law and abide by their own regulations. They insist that the 
Commission acknowledge Mr. Bowers has made an extraordinary adjustment in 
prison, is not a threat to society and deserves to be released on mandatory 
parole.

This contention is supported by a report submitted by Mr. Hans H. Selvog, a 
licensed clinical social worker and Clinical Director of the Augustus 
Institute (National Center on Institutions and Alternatives of Baltimore, 
Maryland) providing a forensic assessment of Mr. Bowers evaluating his 
suitability as a candidate for parole. This exhaustive evaluation consisted 
of a mental status exam, psychological testing and risk assessment. It also 
reviewed Mr. Bowers' behavioral adjustment record while incarcerated.

Mr. Selvog writes:

“Psychological testing confirmed my clinical impressions of Mr. Bowers as 
someone who does not suffer from any psychiatric or personality disorders 
that would prohibit him from maintaining a normal, pro-social way of living 
and relating. Nor does he harbor a corrupt or criminally oriented style of 
thinking or perceiving. Actuarial risk assessment provided additional 
support that Mr. Bowers, should he be granted parole, would in all 
likelihood continue to engage in a lifestyle that is respectful of himself 
and others."

On October 6, 2005, the U.S. Parole Commission will make a final decision 
on Veronza Bowers, Jr. petition for mandatory parole. His supporters 
believe that the outcome of this meeting will not only determine the fate 
of one man, but the spirit of justice and democracy in this great nation of 
ours.

For more information go to <http://veronza.org.>http://veronza.org.

Contact:
Rhonda Jones
480-460-9232
Maynard Garfield
828-462-0249

Press release services provided by http://www.ThatPRGuy.com.

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