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Veronza Bowers, Jr.

April 30, 2007

veronza.jpgHey we have some new items in the store. Two new CDs, one is of Veronza’s music and one of his spoken word.  All the money from these CDs goes to Veronza Bowers, Jr – a member of the Black Panther Party, whose over 30 year sentence, which he has served in Federal Prison in Coleman, FL, has been forcibly and illegally extended. 

This was taken from veronza.org
“Veronza was convicted in the murder of a U.S. Park Ranger on the word of two government informers, both of whom received reduced sentences for other crimes by the Federal prosecutor’s office. There were no eye-witnesses and no evidence independent of these informants to link him to the crime. At his trial, Veronza offered alibi testimony which was not credited by the jury. Nor was testimony of two relatives of the informants who insisted that they were lying. The informants had all charges against them in this case dropped and one was given $10,000 by the government according to the prosecutor’s post-sentencing report. Veronza has consistently proclaimed his innocence of the crime he never committed — even at the expense of having his appeals for parole denied — for which an admission of guilt and contrition is virtually required — he insists on maintaining his innocence.

The Black Panther Party was targeted by J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI in its infamous which, during its years of operation from 1956 to 1971, surveilled, infiltrated, manipulated and tried to provoke criminal activities by entirely lawful civil rights and peace demonstrators exercising their First Amendment rights to oppose government policies. Hoover referred to the BPP as “the greatest threat to the internal security of this country” and authorized surveillance of many black and antiwar leaders including Martin Luther King.

Veronza’s “final” hearing on his petition for mandatory parole was held on October 6, 2005. This case has been given extremely high priority by the administration in response to a request by the Fraternal Order of Police (the largest police lobby in the nation) to keep Veronza imprisoned for life in spite of having served his full sentence and being a model prisoner with an spotless record for the past 21 years. Not surprisingly, by politicizing the case and throwing the full power of the Department of Justice, the Bush administration was able to strong-arm the Parole Commission to reverse its two prior decisions granting Veronza parole. In doing so, it abandoned its commitment to fairness and impartiality in favor a partisan political agenda.

veronz.jpgIn its December 6th decision, the U.S. Parole Commission reversed its previous decisions based on a narrow interpretation of the statue governing mandatory parole. It was decided that Veronza violated “serious” institutional rules during his incarceration, was a “threat to society” and likely to re-offend if released from prison. This conclusion is in direct contradiction to the opinion of prison administrators and unit managers who worked hand-in-hand with Veronza, a highly-respected authority on prison recidivism who subjected him to rigorous psychological testing, prominent attorneys, seasoned parole examiners and a member of the U.S. Congress all of whom testified on-the-record at numerous hearings supporting Veronza’s petition for parole.

This reversal is clearly a violation of the U.S. Parole Commission’s own rules and regulations and in blatant disregard to Veronza’s civil and human rights guaranteed by the Constitution. The reality is that the rule of law in this nation is being overwritten and subverted by the very individuals and agencies sworn to uphold it. Indeed, one does not have to go to Iraq to witness gross violations of human rights and prison abuse. It’s happening right here in our own back yard. ”

An article that appeared in the Washington Post dealing with U.S. Parole Commissioner Isaac Fulwood and his thoughts about Veronza’s petition for Mandatory Parole is located here.

“Where We Live” is an excellent radio program about US political prisoners and the prison/industrial complex. On WBAI 99.5FM, New York City Public Radio, since 1988. It is linked here.

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