Michael Bell, written by Annette Donaldson

Michael Bell, was a typical young man, just a couple of months past his 18th birthday when he committed his crime. He does not wish me to write about his past, but just to say that he deserves his sentence, he took a life, he made mistakes, and that is a simple as it gets. He has never denied his crime, and has faced all the challenges that his life without parole sentence has brought to him during the past 27 years. It is true to say that when he was first incarcerated, he rebelled against the system, as many people do in such a horrible state. However, during the past 12 years, Mike has settled down, and has really focused on turning his life around.

When I last visited Mike, the visitation desk sergeant looked me in the eye and told me, “he’s one of the good guys, he does not deserve to be here now.” During the past 12 years, Mike has not even gotten so much as a verbal warning, not to mention a written ticket for bad behavior, or crossing the line. He is sadly a model inmate. I say sadly, because I feel that as worthy as this is of a mention, it is also testament on how controlling and manipulating the judicial system can be.

Mike, mentors a student at Louis University, Illinois, each semester, and is one of a few inmates that his college professor is willing to testify for and say that his people skills are considerable. His professor has even selected him to mentor students he feels need a more “softly, softly approach.”Mike, has worked for most of the past 12 years, often in positions of responsibility, which shows how much he is held in high regard by the managers and correctional officers that are responsible for his incarceration. He works daily to come home to his family, friends and loved ones.

Mike, has worked hard to obtain many certificates while incarcerated, and has more recently authored 3 books, which are being used by the Louis University and various church groups in Illinois to offer perspective into the lives of young people on the streets. In fact, within the past month, his books have been reviewed by the assistant warden of programs at Stateville They may start a program to assist inmates with counselling and education.

Michael, is well respected within Stateville, not only by the correctional officers whom acknowledge his change in attitude, but also by the younger men for his sound advice and patience. On behalf of Michael, his family, friends and loved ones, I ask for your support to assist this man in his quest for his freedom, and the opportunity of being considered for parole. He is, without a doubt, worthy of a chance at life outside of the prison system. One of his aims is, in his own words, “to make his mom proud.” Thank you for reading.

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