Don’t Lose Hope!

by Kenneth Donaghe

By now you have probably heard about S.B.260, “The Juvenile Lifers Bill.” This bill gives Juveniles a 2nd chance. I can be one of those Juveniles.

I was recently found eligible for Parole after 22 years and four appearances before the Board. Since SB.260 became law, Juvenile Offenders have been paroled after their first appearance. Imagine that! This was unheard of before. Don’t misinterpret what I’m saying. The Parole Board will not just hand you freedom because you served the time. Not at all! You must stay out of trouble and show maturity. It was hard for me to stay out of trouble early on. I was hurt, angry, and I lacked any type of direction and focus. I was just trying to survive. Prison has changed since I started out. Today “lifers” are going home. So let me share with you what I know.

When you get to “reception” you will begin to make some very important decisions. The decisions will affect how you do your time and your chances of being paroled in the future. I can’t tell you what to do, this is for you to decide. Everyday you will have to make decisions, this is life. So be mindful of the decisions you make. Take time out now to think about where you want to be 10-15 years from now. I’m telling you this because I wasn’t told these things. When I came in, I was told that “lifers don’t get parole.”

One final piece of advice. Each decision is yours to make. You are the one that has to live with the consequences. Be firm and stand strong. Fight hard for yourself the same way you fight hard for your neighborhood or your homies. From this point forward make this about you and what you need to do. If for whatever reason you have a set-back, it’s okay. Learn from your experience and move on. Above all, never lose hope.