Rufus West; "Lutalo" 225213;GBCI, PO Box 19033,Green Bay, WI 54307
'Lutalo', age 44, is one of the thousands of Milwaukee Blacks who were swept into prison at the height of the prison boom. He later was sent to the Supermax after testifying in court to the abuse and death of a prisoner near him. He won a lawsuit against that establishment and the worst of its segregation policies. He has transformed himself, works constantly for justice and is an inspiration for all.
In his words: “ I was arrested 8-8-94,convicted of 1 count of armed robbery and possession of a firearm by felon. The victim was not physically injured. I was sentenced to 28 years. I've had maybe 4 or5 parole hearings since then. The parole board has denied me parole for the same cookie-cutter reasons: "Your institutional conduct has not been satisfactory, your program participation has not been satisfactory; release at this time would involve an unreasonable risk to the public; you have not served sufficient time for punishment." It seems like the longer I'm in prison gives the DOC more time to impose new programs on me right around the time when I'm eligible for camp or parole. I've completed all of the programs that I was initially given during my 1st few years in prison. In other words, it appears as though I'll be forced to do programs up until the day I'm released, whether I need the program or not. In my decades as a prisoner, I'm cognizant of the fact that every prison sentence has its own uniqueness. However, it's hard for me to ignore that since the implementation of Truth- In -Sentencing, I have seen prisoners sentenced for murder under TIS serve less time than I have, some who have even come back to prison. For the parole board to continue to block my release because it claims that I'm still the same person that I was 21 years ago, 10 years ago, or even one year ago is unfair. I've received certificates for completing the HSED, Building Services vocational trade, Restorative Justice, Financial Literacy, some type of Driver's Ed. class, and on my own I completed the Paralegal Correspondence Course from Ohio University. I have a solid parole release plan with support from friends. I'm not a troubled prisoner. I find myself mentoring a lot of these youth coming into these prisons on how to stay out of trouble. I have plans to stay out of prison once I'm out. All I need is a chance.”
As the tide of public opinion turns and people get tired of the revenge only mode and the incredible waste of lives and money your policies present, I hope you can change with the need of the times. Instead of wasting money and devastating families by holding people who are no longer dangerous, we need to put our money into mental health units for the men’s maxes like the ones at TCI, the women’s prison. We need to better train staff and have more programs that rehabilitate. We ask the parole chairman to either instate new rules like the ones submitted to you in April or send a memo to your staff to implement the parole system as it was originally intended . I ask legislators , the Governor and Doc Chairman and to encourage Parole Chairman Dean Stensberg to do the right thing. Follow the intent of the parole statutes and allow Rufus West to go back to his community. We need him.