Monday, November 24, 2008

Colored Pencil #4 by Luis Suave Gonzalez

John A. Pace was 17 in 1985 when he was charged with robbery, aggravated assault, and possession of an instrument of crime PIC. Because his victim passed away 10 days later, he was re-charged with robbery, murder, and PIC. Prior to his arrest for this crime, John had never been convicted or incarcerated for a crime and he had a known drug problem, for which his high school principal sought to get him treatment. However, his problem went untreated and he consequently was arrested for this crime a year later while intoxicated and on drugs. The judge in his case had a chance to decertify him back to the juvenile system, or allow him to be prosecuted as an adult and he deciced to maintain his case in the adult system. John was subsequently advised by his trial counsel to plead guilty to second degree murder, and that he would be released after serving 10-15 years. Prior to being sentenced and after expressing that he was sorry to the victim's family for what had happened, the judge in his case stated, "I am convinced that right now, as you sit before me you are, but we can't change what happened and I am bound by law to impose a sentence which is required by the crime that you have pled guilty to". John has now served over 21 years of a mandatory life sentence for second degree murder.

During his incarceration, John has completed every treatment program recommended to him by the institutional staff. He has developed vocational skills in plumbing, carpentry, and bricklaying. He has learned how to do legal research by working for the Para-Professional Law Clinic, and became a certified paralegal.

He is currently working on obtaining his bachelors degree from Villanova University in General Studies and tutoring in the Graterford Literacy Council, as well as a volunteer member of the Prison Literacy Project. Lastly, he is involved with Temple University, Drexel University, and the Universtiy of Pennsylvania in discussing criminal jsutice issues with students and professors. John is also one of the coordinators of Juvenile Lifers for Justice.