The group of men who would become Right To Redemption (R2R) came together about 5 years ago to concentrate our collective attention, will, energy, and imagination on the issue of life without parole. We pledged to work towards nothing short of the abolishment of the sentence. But we knew that others had committed themselves to the same cause in the past, as well as the present, and have not been successful. We also knew that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, and that “if you always do what you did, then you’ll always get what you got.” So after much discussion we collectively agreed that our approach would have to be different this time. We had to get down to the very seeds from which the way we approach the issue grow. Mindset and language were two of those seeds. The way we thought and spoke about the sentence had to change. The sentence had to be properly identified for what it really is. Something that represents death should not be called “Life.” We knew it wasn’t death by injection, but it was just as fatal. It was death by incarceration. It has become a guiding principle for R2R that language is indispensable, even vital.
Mindset is intricately and almost symbiotically related to language. For however we think and feel will always, no matter how hard we try to disguise it, come out in our language. So we made a commitment to detect and address any sense of entitlement within ourselves. We could not, if we are not actually innocent, think and talk as if we have nothing to apologize and atone for. Many of us have caused a great deal of loss and pain in our communities and we could not continue in good conscience to be dismissive of that.