Arkansas Under 21 Sentencing Reform

I need your help.

WE need your help.

Recently, I was informed that the wonderful people at Decarcerate are seeking to support a cause that many know would help me, too: A change to Arkansas law that would allow those under 21 the opportunity at parole after a defined term of years, and it would apply to those that received life with parole and life without parole sentences.

This does not mean that everyone would suddenly be released, but it would allow for those sentenced as emerging adults to reform, rehabilitate, and have access to resources denied under their current sentences. Once these individuals have the access and the ability to show their personal maturity and development, then the parole board can decide if they are ready to become productive citizens.

This change in legislature is in no way an effort to escape justice, but it represents a science based understanding that those under 25 make decisions that accurately represent their development. Those without their basic human needs met, those with brain development stunted by trauma, and those like me who were sexually abused and had a learning disability. We have applied ourselves in the ways that we have been offered, and now seek every resource available to be and give our best.

The advocates at DecARcerate are seeking letters of support from family, friends, and inmates that relate what the impact of such legislation would offer and how it will effect their lives. We will provide a sample letter and outline to help you put together your own letter, but we need your help to make this a reality for this session.

For those who know me, I am asking that you write a letter that represents:

  • an understanding of who I am;
  • what a second chance would offer;
  • what would it be like for me to be there with you.
  • What can you see me doing with a second chance at freedom, and how do you think I would offer something to society?
  • Please take the time to share why you believe in me, and what it would mean to you to see me have the opportunity to walk free.

I am a man with a mission, an advocate with purpose, and a survivor of sexual abuse determined to help others find their voice and heal.

~ Heath Stocks

A huge thank you to those at Human Rights for Kids and The Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth, because you have advocated and helped create hope for those of us that had none.

I deeply appreciate your efforts to help legislators all over the country to understand the positive and lasting impact that sentencing reform can have. Thank you as well to those that were freed under the prior sentencing reforms, and now represent the potential of those inside to the world beyond. Inside each of us that has endured adverse childhood experiences, survived the traumas they represent, and contain the seeds of a solution in our stories.

Just imagine more advocates out there, in the community, sharing their experiences and wisdom with those that need it to avoid similar paths and problems. You are welcome to read the many resources that are available about the development of the brain, Adverse Childhood Experiences, and the fact that many of the factors that lead to crimes often go completely ignored or suppressed. We that live it are unable at that age to share what we have endured, and by the time we understand and grow through that personal awareness it is too late for it to matter.

All we are asking for is the chance to prove ourselves worthy of parole, a second chance, and individually offer those around us the gift our of presence and love. I know that I can make a difference because sharing as I do already has for so many.

Please do what you can to fight for me, and I promise you that I will make the most of that opportunity.

You may email your letter to those at decARcerate at www.decarceratear.org. Zachary, Kaleem, and Laura are there to help you forward that support where it is needed. You may also contact them at (501) 367-7890 or mail to:   PO Box 7708, Little Rock, AR 72217

On social media:

you can tag @ARUnder21 on Twitter;

use the hashtag #ARUnder21; and

like the Facebook page:

Arkansas Under 21 Sentencing Reform

A personal thank you to Mrs. Anna Cox, who for years came to the prison to teach us how to meditate, be self aware, grow, heal, hope, and understand how to be more. So many of us would not be where we are today without your love and guidance, or be able to offer the world what we can through our experiences. May God provide us with the favor needed to see this bill passed, and you see that your voice and opinion matter in the shaping of legislation that can bring others hope.

Thank you to my family, the victims in my crimes, who stood by me and loved me into who I am today. I hope all victims of the crimes done by those under 21 can forgive us, and believe that God created each of us with a purpose and mission in mind. Each of us has a work to do, based on our experiences and pain, and only God can help us get to the place where such is possible.

Thank you for your support, time, and help. I love you.

With a thankful heart,

Heath Stocks

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