Letters to a Lifer: The Boy 'Never to be Released'

Letters to a Lifer: The Boy 'Never to be Released'


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Letters to a Lifer provides a rare insight into life without parole (LWOP) for juveniles. A true story from Pennsylvania, it is a compelling tale of faith and redemption. Cindy Sanford tells how a chance correspondence with Ken, a prisoner artist, began to change her entrenched ideas about offenders. It now adds voice to the work of the National Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth.

In summer 1999, America's Most Wanted broadcast the hunt for two teenagers fleeing a double homicide. Twelve years later Cindy was introduced to one of these boys through his remarkable wildlife art. By now a young man, he had spent half his life in prison. Initially wary, Cindy was surprised to find him humble, polite and deeply grateful for her interest. Gradually she and her family were able to look beyond his crime to who he had become.

Despite a hardening of attitudes, Letters to a Lifer shows why the campaign against LWOP sentences for juveniles is gaining momentum. It has a moving Foreword by Illinois public defender Jeanne Bishop whose sister was killed by a minor who, like Ken, received LWOP.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781909976153
Publisher: Waterside Press
Publication date: 01/21/2015
Pages: 246
Product dimensions: 6.14(w) x 9.21(h) x 0.56(d)

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Letters to a Lifer: The Boy 'Never to be Released' 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
brf1948 More than 1 year ago
This memoir was a gift from the author. I postponed reading this story, afraid it was a real downer - how could it not be? This is the story, told partially through correspondance, between an Christian woman, a middleaged empty nester, and a young man who received a sentence of life without parole for a murder that happened when he was 15 years old. And I was totally wrong. this book is an affirmation of the goodness lying loose in the world, the inherent kindness of strangers, the need to bond with one another. Read this story - it will make you think and grow.
ceese More than 1 year ago
Wow,where to begin. I love reading and there is nothing as satisfying as a good read. My husband would ask my sister not to give me books as I would stay up as long as my body would allow me just to finish it. This is one of those books. I am a school teacher. This book is so enlightening. I took a course in criminal justice in college. What an excellent source of information Letters to a Lifer would make for such a class. I love that is a true story. It is honest and heartwarming. I would like to see it reviewed by Oprah, Ellen, & Meridith. It left me with a lot of questions on our prison system. I thought the main purpose of prison was to rehabilitate people not just house them. What does any one gain from that? I think those who commit crimes should be punished but I think the punishment should fit the crime, if not what then does anyone learn or gain from i?. As for The author, I hope there are more books in the work.
lisaC1 More than 1 year ago
Loved this true story from the beginning to the end! It sounds too simple, and meaningless to even label it a story. It’s a journey of love and a testament of faith to both the author, and the inmate Ken that is so much larger than my own. It’s not sugar coated, nor does this book end with a fairly tale ending. The author gives an honest account right from the beginning about her reservations with opening communications with an inmate. She does an outstanding job of unraveling and revealing the developing, and often difficult layers of her own heart, as well as their relationship throughout this book. Within the book, Ken openly shares his utmost desire to be loved, simply loved, that’s all. The author places herself in an emotional turmoil as she struggles with the crime he committed, but continues to see the beautiful soul emerging from a stranger that lived an unloved, uncared for, and nightmarish childhood. There’s no self-pity here from Ken. It’s an eye opening account about a teenager sentenced to life in prison without parole for a crime committed at age 15. The empathy and enlightenment created here for me is how did this boy develop into the articulate, kind, caring and talented young man that he is at age 31.  Very few of us could survive, let alone thrive past his childhood, and grim walls of present day prison and remain so optimistic, thankful, hopeful and humble. The enlightenment part is that I never really gave it more than a fleeting moment of thought after I heard that a child was sentenced to prison, or a juvenile tried as an adult. My heart would twinge as it would most mothers, but the uncomfortableness of it made me move on. What does that actually mean to the general public? Most importantly, what does that mean for the child?  Not knowing the true facts of state laws, I allowed my heart to rest on the thought that after many, many years of deserved punishment served, a juvenile would eventually be able to go before the parole system somewhere in adulthood.  Sadly, this is untrue.  Regardless of whether you are a Christian or not, believe in forgiveness and redemption, only you can decide if the loss of another life to no parole is an acceptable one. Is Ken, or some others within the system, truly never worthy of the opportunity to prove to others that they are responsible, accountable, hard working, and non-violent human beings? Once you read this book, I believe you won’t either.