I am a lifer serving a second degree life sentence for murder that took place some 38 years ago. I am still serving this sentence, which might suggest a number of things, yet the facts are that this parole system lacks standards. It no longer functions under even the pretense of serving the citizens of the state, of which I am one, I might add, even as a convicted criminal.
This begins with my wife being accidentally shot and killed while at her brother's home by an individual attempting to sell a gun (which will sound familiar in a few moments, I promise you). During a brief struggle over the gun, it went off and killed my wife, leaving me with four children (who are now grown with children of their own) to look after, not to mention a funeral to plan...imagine the devastation I was experiencing.
So, on November 13, 1977 (less than a week after my wife's death), a guy I was barely acquainted with (who later became my co-defendant in this case) asked if I knew of anyone that might be interested in purchasing a few guns. Ironic, huh? Yet those are the facts and I often wonder, what were the chances this would happen to me, since I had never really been involved with the law. So, since this is not about what actually lead up to me being convicted, I will move on to what it is about, which is why some are overlooked and others, with similar records, are eligible for parole.
Over the course of those thirty-eight years, I have had eight parole interviews and all were positive, with the exception of two: the last one and the one in 1994. The result of the 1994 interview involved an interviewer not having a clue as to how to conduct a parole interview regarding what was acceptable, and what was not.
No doubt you are not aware, when it comes to second degree lifers, that there are no real procedures in place to govern how they are chosen for release, which results in a lifer with 21 years with similar records being released over an individual with, say, 31 years. How is this possible, you ask, especially with similar records?!
The answer is, it's a crap shoot as to whom will be considered, not to mention released. No one knows how one individual is picked over another for consideration. Although you would think that it would matter whether one individual serving a life sentence had one victim or three victims who were murdered, it doesn't.
I have witnessed a number of male prisoners over the past ten years be released, and their record made mine look as if I were up for the priesthood, yet those individuals received parole.
I did not shoot President Reagan, Robert Kennedy, a Michigan State Trooper, nor a police officer. That's not to say that one life is more precious than another, yet what I am saying is, what I value most these days is equality, fairness, and justice. More so since my incarceration than before, which I now see less of as time passes.
I feel that I deserve no less than those who have served their time and managed to be released in 20 or 30 years upon a sentence equal to my own. So what I am asking: I require your assistance in obtaining the equality that I believe I deserve. Whatever form that comes in, I would be most thankful. Contact your legislator, the MDOC Parole Board Members, or anyone you believe might be helpful, or contact me: William M. Hill, at Lakeland Correctional Facility, #153219, 141 First Street, Coldwater, MI, 49036-9687.
-William M. Hill