Letters From Prison: Part 2, 2018.
Photography and Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2018
Last week was really awful. Let me put this in context: I turned 71 back in December. I’ve been eligible for geriatric parole since age 65. I meet all the requirements for release under this program. In 1995 Virginia abolished parole under Republican Governor George Allen, but instituted the geriatric program so they wouldn’t appear totally heartless. On paper it sounds great, reach the age of 65 with a good institutional record and get out. But the reality is quite different. In any given year the Parole Board revokes more paroles than they grant, resulting in a net gain in the prison population. When a new head of the Parole Board was appointed last year, she said she wanted to get older inmates out to free up beds for people stuck in jails due to lack of prison beds. But we’ve seen no change. I know a number of older men here who are no danger to anyone and should be released, but are turned down over and over.
Now comes my story. I had my last parole hearing last May. I’ve waited and waited for an answer. The woman who interviewed me said, “Your numbers look good,”. and was very upbeat. So I was very surprised not to get a quick answer. But, based on her comments and attitude, I expected a positive response. So I was really upset to get a denial-after nine months! They said that I am a threat to the community! That’s ridiculous. I had my photo studio in Radford, Virginia since 1981, at three different locations in downtown. The last location on Main Street two blocks from the police department. In all those years there was never a hint of a problem. I photographed about 200 models in those years. After my arrest there was over four years until my trial. The police and prosecution tried hard to find any former models who would say a bad word about me and couldn’t find a single one. Not a one. That’s because I always treated my models with respect and professionalism. But now I’m a threat to the community?
I plan to. appeal this ridiculous decision. Wish me luck.
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 is serving the 10th year of his sentence. To read more articles by Bob Shell, click here: https://tonywarderotica.com/bob-shell-letters-prison-2018-1/