Age is just a number you would think. But while you are aging you began to see things differently. The reason for my change of attitude is based on reality. what is reality of growing old in prison?
I am now 72 years of age and will be 73 in October. I was arrested in May 1976. First of all I never imagined I would be in prison for so long. At the time I was arrested, life in prison did not mean you would become a Senior citizens. DBI was not the ultimate conclusion of a life sentence. DBI was a sentence the state system believed would allow a person to change and eventually to go home. The majority of the people serving a life sentence was put in prison while they were teenager or in their early 20’s. Very few men and women were in their 30’s. the drastic change in the political system driven by racial animus.
The prison population for lifers was not high in 1976. for the next 10 to 15 years lifers was going home and being commuted. In 1980 this began to change with a new Governor from 1980 to 1988 a small number was being commuted and that was about 10 people. at this time I was still under 40 years of age. I still had hope that my criminal appeals would eventually free me from my convictions. I had an all white jury in both murder cases and in the bank robbery case which included too mistrials. After receive a new trial in the murder case because I had all white juries and the fed court granted me a new trial. Roger King the D.A. who is now dead took me back to trial and found me guilty again. This was in 1990. At that time I was 40 years old and I started to feel the pain in my heart and in my mind of getting old in prison. After losing my wife and the joy of raising a son by her and another son by another wonderful woman. “I really loved them both”. Of course this aging process came with pain and loss. Soon after that my mother passed away and I was unable to comfort her and my father took care of her up to the last second which gave me great comfort.
I also loss my grandmother which was a great loss to me. After my grandmother Mrs Wright passed away my aunt Mrs Lillian passed away my concept of aging took on another level of understanding. My own purpose in life began to speak inside of me what am I going to do with my life? I realize that if I ever wanted to be free I must struggle for it. I put my entire intelligence and energy into studying the law. By studying the law gave me an understanding of the law. I learned what the constitution really means and learned that slavery actually is the heart in soul of the development of capitalism of the world. Being in prison with this type or knowledge made me aware that I was miseducated as well as other Americans. Along with my studies I realize that I was in the biggest fight if my life serving a life sentence in PA means death.
In 1995 an insane prisoner was released and he went to New York state and killed two white women and raped them. PA governor race was poluted by this mans criminal act and the election was won. But the Republicans and Gov Ridge promised that a lifer wouldn’t get out again under his watch. The Republicans amended the constitution after the voters voted for the amendment. The amendment made it impossible for any lifer to be commuted. For nearly 25 yrs no one was commuted. Over 1000 men and women died in that period remember, we age and die like everyone else. At this time I was in my mid 50’s I was getting tired at that point I saw no light at the end of the tunnel I continued to litigate in court state and federal. I have all types of Brady valuation in my murder case. State and federal court refused to give me a new trial and they said the new evidence didn’t matter. Each lawyer in each case said that they didn’t have the Brady evidence. They testified to that but the court didn’t believe them. I’m getting older and older and I found out that the judges with the black robes don’t represent justice or Fairness.
I could go on and on but I will just add this part. Prisons weren’t build for elderly men and women I’m not forced to live in a bathroom with another male. the medical care isn’t working for older people. It has taken over 7 years to get an eye operation. The prison dietary harms the elderly. Aging in prison is cruel and punishment in prison. Any further information please contact Charles Diggs.