Bob Shell: Letters From Prison – Part Two

Portrait of Marion Franklin by Bob Shell


Letters From Prison: Part Two


Photography and Text by Bob Shell


According to my councilor, the Virginia Department of Corrections [DOC] admits to a 5% false incarceration rate.  That is, they admit that 5% of the people incarcerated in Virginia are innocent.  Think about that.  5% seems like a pretty small number, but let me put it in perspective.  At the prison where I am held there are approximately 1,000 prisoners.  5% of 1,000 is 50.  So, statistically speaking, there are about 50 innocent men here.  I speak of men only because this is a segregated system and women are held in separate women’s prisons.

In the entire Virginia DOC there are about 40,000 prisoners.  5% of 40,000 is 2000 innocent people being held in prison, and that’s only for Virginia.  That’s a hell of a lot of innocent people to have their rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness taken away.  Often they are given ridiculously long sentences for minor infractions.  For example, in Virginia you can be convicted of drug possession for residue in an otherwise empty container.  Since almost all $50 and $100 bills in circulation contain detectable residue of cocaine, heroin, and other drugs, the cops could bust just about anyone for possession based on this residue, even though they have never owned or used drugs.  It’s insane.  I know people who have been given ten-year sentences for barely detectable drug residue.  Ten years is a big chunk of someone’s life.


Beyond this, that official 5% false imprisonment number is most likely  far too low.  The Richmond Times Dispatch newspaper did their own investigation and concluded that the real number is more like 15 – 18%.  At 15% the total number would be close to 6,000, the population of a small town.  These are people that never committed any crime.

When you have these numbers in mind, it is much easier to believe me when I say that I am completely innocent of the crime I was accused of.  I am in good company.


Photographs of former muse, Marion Franklin by Bob Shell. Copyright 2016


About The Author: Bob Shell is a professional photographer, author and former editor in chief of Shutterbug Magazine. He is currently serving a 35 year sentence at Pocahontas State Correctional Center, Pocahontas, Virginia for involuntary manslaughter for the death of Marion Franklin, one of his former models. Mr. Shell has served over 8 years of his sentence to date. To learn more about the case go here:


To read more article by Bob Shell for Tony Ward Erotica, go here:

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