Indefinite sentencing is cruel and inhumane

Mutope gets a visit from his brother Anthony on March 19, 2016.

by Mutope Duguma

On Dec. 7, 2020, newly elected Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón gave a public announcement in Special Directive 20-14 – click to download the PDF – which laid out a comprehensive directive, or blueprint, toward ending state-sanctioned execution in the form of indefinite sentencing, where, for decades, humans in CDCr suffer permanent imprisonment.

We the people support this comprehensive special directive 20-14, but believe it falls short – it is not yet reaching the prison population held indefinitely under cruel and unusual punishment. As a human being who has been subjected to 33 years of imprisonment held in an 8-by-10-foot cell for a conviction in the 1980s, I know it is cruel and unusual punishment. 

To keep any human in such a space for an indefinite period is torture. The building structure of such a horrible environment has the effect of a human kennel. Human beings are being held like dogs in a kennel inside of prisons.

The deprivations that the incarcerated suffer are enormous. Many who have been held indefinitely could easily be of some benefit to their children no matter how old they are – the yearning of a child for a missing parent never stops where there exists a long absence.

Prisons have long been used to freeze time for many incarcerated people held indefinitely within. Prisoners slowly watch as their family, friends and associates pass away over the years during this cruel incarceration, leaving many of us devastated and with serious regrets for what we have done as teenagers or young adults. 

The deprivations that the incarcerated suffer as a result of their conviction are enormous. Permanent disconnect from your family, friends and community; children raised without one or both of their parents, having to find their way through a very complicated world. Many of the lifers who have been held indefinitely could easily be of some benefit to their children no matter how old they are – the yearning of a child for a missing parent never stops where there exists a long absence.

The work that lifers are doing upon release is remarkable and a great asset to their communities, to say the least. An end to indefinite sentencing would end the suffering of human beings in and out of prison. Let’s join in a massive campaign to support District Attorney George Gascón in ending torturous treatment exclusively of the incarcerated.

Send our brother some love and light: Mutope Duguma, D-05996, LAC B5-141 P.O. Box 4490, Lancaster, CA 93539.