Today started with me receiving a hopeful message from a friend. A group of influential people are meeting on February 7th to draft a revised bill to offer parole eligibility for lifers. The first draft of the bill got legislators talking about why Pennsylvania is the only state to incarcerate every person convicted of 1st or 2nd degree murder for the rest of their natural lives. It also got them discussing how long it takes to rehabilitate someone and at what point continuing to incarcerate them is simply damaging their chances of ever successfully reintegrating into society. Incarcerating someone after they’re rehabilitated is essentially warehousing them. And as one lawmaker pointed out during a visit to SCI Muncy in 2017 – why should PA taxpayers pay to warehouse human beings? My friend, a juvenile lifer, was released after serving almost 40 years in prison. It didn’t take 40 years to rehabilitate her. So what’s the right number? 15 years? 20 years? Almost two years out my friend is still struggling with housing and employment, but she’s doing much better than she was when she was first released. A strong support system and a solid reentry plan are essential for success. I’m hopeful that the meeting of the minds on Feb. 7th will bring about a piece of legislation that can become law and finally bring some much needed compassion into our criminal justice system.