Veronza Bowers, Jr. Update

Veronza Bowers, Jr. Update

Dear Friends,

Sorry to be out of touch with you for so long. As most of you know, Veronza's "final" hearing on his petition for mandatory parole was held on October 6, 2005. All five-members members of the U.S. Parole Commission convened in Washington, D.C. due to intervention in the case by Attorney General, Albert Gonzales. At his request the Commission reconsidered its two previous decisions, both of which granted Veronza release on mandatory parole after serving a full-sentence of 30 years plus 18 months of detention beyond his mandatory release date. There is no precedent and no rule permitting intervention by the Attorney General in this case. Yet, the very highest parole authority in the nation, yielding to pressure from the Bush administration, changed its rules and agreed to meet for a third time to decide Veronza's fate.

This case has been given extremely high priority by the administration in response to a request by the Fraternal Order of Police (the largest police lobby in the nation) to keep Veronza imprisoned for life in spite of having served his full sentence and being a model prisoner with an spotless record for the past 21 years. As mentioned, the FOP enlisted the aide of U.S. Attorney General who intervened directly through the head of the criminal division, Alice Fisher. Not surprisingly, by politicizing the case and throwing the full power of the Department of Justice, the Bush administration was able to strong-arm the Parole Commission to reverse its two prior decisions granting Veronza parole. In doing so, it abandoned its commitment to fairness and impartiality in favor a partisan political agenda.

During the six-weeks prior to the December hearing I worked very closely with Bryan Gaynor, Veronza's lead attorney, to formulate strategy and help write numerous responses to legal briefs responding the AG's arguments. After the decision was handed down, I had assumed everyone would be informed, but many of you have written to say you did not receive notice. Please accept my apologies for this lapse in communication.

In its December 6th decision, the U.S. Parole Commission reversed its previous decisions based on a narrow interpretation of the statue governing mandatory parole. It was decided that Veronza violated "serious" institutional rules during his incarceration, was a "threat to society" and likely to re-offend if released from prison. This conclusion is in direct contradiction to the opinion of prison administrators and unit managers who worked hand-in-hand with Veronza, a highly-respected authority on prison recidivism who subjected him to rigorous psychological testing, prominent attorneys, seasoned parole examiners and a member of the U.S. Congress all of whom testified on-the-record at numerous hearings supporting Veronza's petition for parole.

I will avoid going into all the details involved in this most recent round of events. (For more information and updates, please go to Veronza's web site at I do, however, want to emphasize that this reversal is clearly a violation of the U.S. Parole Commission's own rules and regulations and in blatant disregard to Veronza's civil and human rights guaranteed by the Constitution. Unfortunately, Veronza is only one of over six million Americans caught in the Never Neverland of our country's Prison-Industrial Complex. The reality is that the rule of law in this nation is being overwritten and subverted by the very individuals and agencies sworn to uphold it. Indeed, one does not have to go to Iraq to witness gross violations of human rights and prison abuse. It's happening right here in our own back yard. Through my involvement in Veronza's case, I have gotten a close-up look at how things work in 21st-century America and fear greatly for our vulnerable democracy.

Is this the last word on the matter? No! Are we giving up? Absolutely not! We are not retreating from our goal of having Veronza returned to the loving arms of his family and friends any more than Nelson Mandela's supporters gave up during his 27 years of incarceration in apartheid South African prisons.

What next?

Since the official "notice of action" as it relates to the USPC decision is devoid of any meaningful content, we have sent the Commission a demand under the Freedom of Information Act for the complete transcript of the October 6th hearing along with all related written materials to determine the basis on which their reversal was rendered. Once we have this information in hand, there is yet another "final" reconsideration to be submitted to the Commission requesting that it reinstate its original decision. Once "all administrative remedy" has been exhausted, we will consider, yet again, suing the USPC in federal court. In all honesty, we are looking ahead to years of work and thousands of dollars to bring closure to this issue and gain Veronza the freedom he so clearly deserves. I speak on behalf of Veronza's friends, family and supports in letting you know we are totally committed to this vision and will not rest until it is realized.

Once more, I apologize to those of you who have been left out of the loop. Your generosity and support over the years has been awesome and deeply appreciated. I spoke with Veronza a few days ago and he asked me to tell you that he is doing well under the circumstances and sends his love and sincere thanks to all of you. I promise keep you better posted in the future as the case evolves.

All the best,

PS If you prefer not to receive these updates, please let me know and I will remove your name from the list.