Joseph Arrieta, written by Flory Rivera

I am one of the thousands nationwide and one of the hundreds who initially was sentenced to die for murder as a juvenile at age 17 two and a half decades ago. Despite my going to trial and proving beyond a reasonable doubt that these murders were committed in self defense, I was convicted and sentenced to life without parole. Why? Not because of the murders themselves or because the court found that I was beyond any hope for rehabilitative potential, but for the circumstances of my childhood and home environment that I was raised in until I was 17, when they were taken away.The likelihood that I could change or become a productive member of society — none of theses things mattered to the court until the U.S. Supreme Court announced their decision of Miller v. Alabama, This decision took away automatic life sentence and gave those in my situation new hope and gave me a chance to show that I am no longer an immature juvenile who committed murder 24 years ago.

In light of this new hope I was re-sentenced on October 11, 2017. I came into court a man. A man who brought with him every educational certificate he could provide. A non violent disciplinary history showing no violence was proven or committed during my years in prison. Most importantly, I took full responsibility for my actions,apologizing to the court and to the victims’ families. I spoke of true, sincere, heartfelt remorse for the lives lost and the tragic loss I suffered losing my mother, brother and a part of myself that I can never get back regardless of what I said. I was mocked in the courtroom. I was wished death by the victim’s family. This re-sentencing was a mockery to the integrity of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in cases like mine. Despite being sent back to prison again to die I kept positive and continued correspondence courses of educational subjects.

The greatest gift of all was meeting my wife, Florinda, who saw me for me, for the man I am, and took me into her life and home, making me a father to two young beautiful daughters, Hayley age 12 and Ivy age 6. These kids are loved by me, love me, wait for me to come home, and often ask when I’m coming home. Not wanting to lie to them, I simply tell them soon . My wife often cries for me, knowing what I went through and continue to go through. My wife has been my rock ,my torch, my pillar of love and hope and happiness. I can’t bare the thought of ever letting her down or the kids. I know that with my family by my side, the things that once corrupted me as a juvenile, recklessness and addiction, are forever gone, never to be repeated,. My wife and kids are all I hope to live for and I know if simply given chance, I can show that people change .

People like me regardless of how dark it was never gave up, never stopped believing in the human spirit of forgiveness. Never stop this fight to show how the juvenile I once was,where I came from and what I’ve seen and done, the things I did to get to this point, should never be thrown away because they can change with a second chance. I changed. I’m not deserving of a sentence such as this one. Keeping me and those who deserve a second chance to die in prison serves no phenological justification. I’m not a threat to society nor to myself. The retributive measures behind these types of sentences, now among evolving measures of decency, demands the end to life without parole nationwide . I can tell you why I deserve parole, but showing everyone would be that much greater. A new start in a new direction, forgiveness and second chances, should be demonstrated by all who have a voice . A voice that asks and shows that he or she can do it can make the changes in their lives and lives around them.

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