"I am a first generation Jamaican American born to a hard working single mom. My mom frequently worked 2-3 jobs doing housekeeping to support my sister and I. With no father to turn to, I looked to the streets of the South Bronx for guidance and direction. I gravitated to older young adults in my neighborhood who were flashy and appeared to be making a lot of money. At the immature and impressionable age of 16, they took me under their wing—5-15 years my senior, I looked up to them and was willing to do anything to impress them. At only 18, I was arrested along with 12 others and ultimately, my relationship with these men, led me to a life sentence for a nonviolent drug crime.
My journey to maturity has lead me to great reflection which has formed a foundation for remorse, renewal and rehabilitation—transformation. And yet, it will forever be ingrained in my mind that on May 16, 1997 I was given the second most severe penalty permitted by law; a sentence which is usually reserved for the most habitual adult offenders; a sentence which will give me no chance for fulfillment outside prison walls, no chance for reconciliation with society and more importantly no hope for the future.
Although being young and highly impressionable are by no means an excuse, it does count for me being easily influenced. And if 18 is the point where society draws the line between childhood and adulthood, then the penological theory to justify life without parole for a juvenile, non-homicide offender ought to be brought into question.
In spite of it all, I have taken my adversity and turned it into ambition. And it is within this faith that I pray for my second chance, for, America is a country of second chances."