Release Those Serving Life Sentences for Marijuana

Randy Lanier, Life Without Parole for MarijuanaPlease help Randy Lanier and follow the link to sign our Change.org petition to President Obama to release nonviolent drug offenders serving life sentences.

This suggestion is in response to the speech given by Deputy Attorney James Cole at the New York State Bar Association Meeting on January 30, 2014.

Grant a systemic or group Presidential Clemency to a unique category of nonviolent federal inmates.  This group would be nonviolent drug offenders serving sentences of life without parole or de facto life without parole (attached is an example of such a group clemency).

There is a crisis in the Criminal Justice System caused by harsh and outdated sentencing.  The ACLU spotlighted the incarceration of non-violent offenders serving sentences of life without parole in their report of November 13 2013, A Living Death: Life without Parole for Nonviolent Offenses.

There is a common thread running through these nonviolent life without parole sentences.

1.  It seems that a high percentage of these offenders exercised their sixth amendment right to trial and received a many fold sentencing enhancement for this decision,

2.  Another frequent element in these life sentences for nonviolent drug offenders is that they were charged and prosecuted for conspiracy with only cooperating witnesses and informants giving testimony.

3.  Most of these inmates were sentenced under mandatory minimums and they are aging in place having already served considerable time.

Click here to sign the Change/org Petition and please share with your friends and associates and Help Free Randy Lanier and others serving LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE for nonviolent marijuana offenses.

Life Without Parole for Marijuana — Degrees of Freedom

Randy Lanier, Life Without Parole for MarijuanaGreetings friends,

I hope this finds you all well, and living in a harmonious flow .

Being incarcerated has taught me that we all can have an understanding that cycles exists, and we can intuitively move in harmony with the unexpected happenings.

I have come to realize that the state of freedom has various levels of degrees. One degree of freedom is being in a harmonious flow. At some point of our journey we all have had the thought of improving our lives or making it better. Being grateful for what we do have allows our heart to experience happiness, and contentment.

Another degree of freedom is being free from whatever we may be attached to. Therefore I think attachment is one of the tendencies that keeps us bound. Attachments are not  necessary.

Many of us are attached to the wrong ideas, or beliefs. Such as the belief that marijuana is an evil drug.

It is hard to let go of wrong ideas, or to even admit that we may be wrong. The ego always wishes to be correct. Having a mental flexibility is a wonderful thing, which can help lead us to a spiritual path. It helps us gain the ability to let go of attachments.

Naturally we like to think we see things correctly. Therefore, we may develop an inclination to be rigid or set in the way we see things. In order for the mind to see the truth of things, we need to have a mental flexibility.  Practicing surrendering, or letting go of all negative,or limiting thoughts helps us ward off any inclination of gloominess, or suffering.

I see plenty of these symptoms in prison daily. I counsel inmates about letting go of attachments because when we allow ourselves to become free of attachments we begin to live in harmony with things as they come or go. This allows us to attain even mindedness. Seeing everything as God’s play is a way to achieve even mindedness.

I have come to believe that when thoughts of bad times come to mind it is a good idea to be grateful for the bad times as well as the good times. Because often it is those times that may make us remember that there is a higher force. Sometimes it is the bad times that makes us aware of the truth.

The truth is that eternal happiness is within. All we have to do is know the self. It is amazing to me how life reflects what we create in our inner consciousness.

That is why it is very important not to believe everything we read or hear. The power of words is something we often do not pay attention to. Being even minded will help us in being free from being affected by the power of words.

I will tell you a story about how the power of words affected a new arrival here in Coleman In another post.

Be well my friends.

Peace!

Randy

Life Sentence for Marijuana – Thoughts on Solitary Confinement

Randy Lanier, Life Without Parole for MarijuanaGreetings Friends,

Since I last posted we have been locked down several times. I am thankful that the lock downs have not been long. I use the lockdown time to practice my drawing and study chess.  A couple of weeks ago I moved cells and currently I am living in a single cell. Life is good.  My yoga practice and meditation is daily.

A couple of days ago an assault on an inmate happened in the rec yard. I was in the art room when I heard someone say, They are stomping the shit out of someone on the rec yard!

I looked out the window and saw a couple guys beating on someone. The inmate fell to the ground. The really sad part is the two men who were punishing this guy did not think it was enough to simply knock him out. They continued to put boots on him while he lay there unconscious.

The entire time the tower or the guards did not see the drama taking place.  However, the guys that assaulted the inmate walked away only to get picked up a few minutes later. The cameras here are so good that no matter where a person is, the staff can view on a monitor what is happening and who is doing what.  Years ago there were more homicides because inmates thought they could get away with murder.

Often when inmates assault other inmates they will spend a lengthly amount of time in the special housing unit (SHU), also known as solitary confinement or “the hole.” The length of time spent in solitary confinement often causes serious psychological symptoms ranging from social withdrawal, suicidal thoughts, nervous breakdowns , hallucinations, and loss of social skills.

I recently read in the New Yorker there are 2.4 million prisoners across the country, four times more than 1980.  Forty-four states have what is know as Supermax prisons. these prisons are where the inmates are locked down 23 hours of each day. The inmates are allowed one hour of rec in a cage five days a week.

Last year over 30,000 inmates went on a hunger strike in California to protest solitary confinement. A few weeks ago the Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings titled Reassesing Solitary Confinement.

Be well my friends enjoy all your moments

Peace!

Randy

Life Sentence for Marijuana — A Visit from Home Fills the Heart

Randy Lanier and children

Randy Lanier with son Glen and daughter Brandie days before being indicted.

Greetings,

On Friday March 7th I received a visit from my mother, and my son. It has been about a year since I last visited with anyone, so I was anxious as the days came closer to the visit.

I truly am blessed. For two days I experienced love in a deep, and profound way. Glen my son drove up from Ft. Lauderdale. He not only visited he also came to help his grandmother with what ever needed to be done around her home.

On Friday both of them came to visit and break bread. We shared lunch, and lots of laughter. On Saturday Glen came by himself.  When I first got indicted, he was a newborn just 7 days old. Now he is 27.

Life WIthout Parole for Marijuana Randy Lanier

Recent photo of Randy Lanier and son Glen

Experiencing love and sharing love is such a wonderful thing. It opens the heart in a natural way. I notice when this happens I experience an increase in unity and equality in all things. God’s way of letting us know He is all pervasive.

While visiting, a feeling of completeness came over me. By completeness I mean a feeling of us all being a divine spirit. Visiting with my mom, and son helped me understand that we are all free and beautiful within. There are no impurities within our true self. Our main impurity is a misunderstanding of who we really are.

Randy Lanier Life Without Parole for Marijuana

Recent photo of Randy Lanier and son Glen

For the last two days I experienced grace and the inner space of freedom.

Life Is Good!  Be well my friends.

Peace!

Randy

Walking a Spiritual Path While Serving a Life Sentence for Marijuana

Randy Lanier, Life Without Parole for Marijuana

Randy Lanier as he looks today.

Greetings Friends,

I hope this finds everyone well, It has been a few weeks since I last posted so I thought I would write a few lines.  We have had a few lock downs but nothing serious. I have been putting a lot of time in the art room.

Over the years I have seen many people leave prison and return.  Recently there have been a couple of friends who got released and came back due to parole violations. I have had some good talks with them and hopefully this will be their last time in prison.

All of us at some time have thoughts about things or acts that we will not do again. Then time goes by and we find our selves doing the things or acts we told our selves we were never  going to do. Then guilt or remorse comes into our life.

The difference between feeling guilt  or remorse is guilt you feel bad about your self and remorse you feel bad about what you have done.

I like to practice never feeling bad about my self. Our inner self is pure love and beauty. We are not the things we do that we told our selves or others that we would not do.

If you ever wonder why people do the things they say they will not do, consider this. We all have tendencies that developed through our conditioning and our thinking. There are many different types of tendencies: addiction , compulsion, being judgmental, jealousy, greed, attactment, etc. These tendencies are very powerful. That is why we end up doing thing we say we will not do.

Our ego feeds on all things good or bad. Therefore it is important to practice humility and compassion.  By practicing awareness we can overcome our tendencies and develop a practice of compassion and empathy.

These tendencies hold us back and keep us bound within. They are what we need to workout and purify in our life   One of the most important things we can do is help people recognize the tendencies that keep them from being free.

By walking on a spiritual path and practicing awareness we all can have a level of contentment that is high and by grace we will attain an equanimity and balance in our life.

Peace!

Randy

A Valentine’s Message from Randy – Life Without Parole for Marijuana

Randy Lanier Life WIthout Parole for Marijuana

Randy and Pamela Lanier with children Brandie and Glen

Happy Valentines Day to all!

I always thought of my self as a romantic. On Valentines day In 1976 Pam and I were married. 38 years ago!  I really felt like a romantic that day.

If we reflect back on our past. we will see many different phases, and circumstances in our life that has changed. We all share more in common than we may realize. We all experience the many different human emotions throughout our life. We all will laugh and cry. we all will experience some type of creation and separation. We all will experience some type of desire.

Love is the one desire that we need not search for. It is within us and it is the one thing that never changes. It is the substratum of the universe. It is who we are.

One Love!

Peace!

Randy

Life Without Parole for Marijuana — Lock Down in Coleman Penitentiary

Randy Lanier, Life Without Parole for Marijuana

Photo: Tim Pearce

Randy Lanier’s Prison Diary – Life Without Parole for Marijuana

On Saturday morning a white guy head butted a black guy in another unit.  Incidents like this have the potential to turn into a race riot. Whenever there is a fight of any kinds, we go on “lock down.”

When we go on lockdowns we are afforded a shower three times a week.  Each time we go to the shower we are hand cuffed behind our back and escorted there with a guard beside us. We have five showers on each tier.  Each shower is a single stall with a steel door that has steel bars and a steel slot where we stick our hand through to get our cuffs undone.  Once we step into the shower stall the steel door gets locked. Once our cuffs are taken off the slot also gets locked. We are allowed five minutes to shower.  Depending on the five guards who are running the shower detail, sometimes we get up to ten minutes.

When I am ready to go back to my cell the process repeats itself in reverse.  Once again my hands are cuffed behind my  back and I am walked back to my cell.

My cell door locks before I stick my hands through the slot in order for the cuffs to be removed. The steel slot is locked.

The cell doors are made of solid steel with a 4 by 14-inch window that looks out into the common area.

On Friday I moved from a two man cell to a single as one came available and I put in a request to move into the empty cell.   As there were several men wanting the cell, I feel blessed to have been allowed to move in.  I now have a quiet space to practice yoga, tai’ chi, meditation, and Qi Gong.

Life is good!

Life Without Parole for Marijuana – Prison Social Structure

Randy Lanier, Life Without Parole for MarijuanaGangs, Cars, and the Social Hierarchy of Prison Life — Randy Lanier’s Prison Diary

While I was away at Springfield having a hip replacement there were many incidents here at USP Coleman.  The biggest one was the gang fight in the rec yard between the Bloods and the Latin Kings. They had homemade knives and locks on a belt.  Despite shots being fired from the guard tower several inmates refused to quit fighting.  Many officers responded and they too ended up fighting with the inmates.

After that situation the administration split the rec yard, so that now the North side, and the Southside inmates rec separately.

We have three sections on the rec yard, all fenced in with razor wire on top. The softball field is one section, the handball courts and the basketball courts is another section . The soccer/football and track is a separate section. When the north side has the indoor rec center they also have use of the soccer and track. When the North side has the rec center and soccer field, the Southside inmates can use the softball ,handball and basketball courts. Upon arriving at the rec yard you are locked in your section. The schedule changes each day.

Prison has changed in many ways over the years, There are more gangs and now.  As a result of all the intimidation by gang members, new groups known as “cars” evolved in order to combat the gangs.

Not quite a gang, cars are groups of inmates from various states.  For example there may be an Alabama car, Florida car, Kentucky car, Boston car, etc.  The people in the car agree to stick together, look out for each other, and protect each other in the case of gang conflicts.  If someone from their state disrespects or does something that causes gangs or other inmates to get upset, the car inmates will step in and straighten the situation out.

The principle difference between gangs and cars is the level of input from their members.  While a gang may have a single leader, the car works more democratically with members of the group deciding together on the best course of action and for this reason cars are not considered gangs.  Also once you are in gang you are there forever, blood in, blood out.  Cars are far more loosely organized and you can choose to leave the group.

When an inmate is in a car, no gang member can extort, bully, or assault him. The car hands out any punishment that may be required. However, if you are in a car and the car has a problem, you are expected to “ride” with them.

An inmate chooses to be in a car or a gang. Or, like me, they can choose to remain independent.  You might wonder if it is difficult to be on my own without the “protection” of a gang or car.  It isn t so bad, you just have to avoid situations that would create conflict, which usually involves drugs, gambling, sex, or other “against the rules” activities.  I am also careful about who I associate with as sometimes you can get dragged into problems by the people you associate with.  I keep myself and my behavior clean and I usually don’t have issues.

Life Without Parole for Marijuana – Changes at Coleman Prison

Photo: Danny Bradbury

Photo: Danny Bradbury

Randy Lanier’s Prison Diary – As we all know change is inevitable. While I was away at Springfield, Coleman USP Implemented several changes. One such change is we now must wear a color coded Lanyard with the letters of our unit printed in large letters around our neck with our ID card attached. The reason for this is so the officers can tell what unit an inmate lives in, and therefore no inmate will be able to go into a unit unless they live there.

What is funny is all the inmates that go into other units just put on another inmate’s lanyard.

One of the problems with the lanyard is someone could grab it, and choke you, or use it against you in a fight.

So the administration added a quick release in the back of the lanyard. The problem still exist if someone comes from behind you, and yanks, or pulls the cord. There is no quick release in the front, so it may just be a matter of time before someone gets choked.

Another procedure that was implemented, while I was away is the way we come out of our cells. We use to be allowed to step out of the cell once the door was unlocked. Now we must wait until the officer unlocks all 64 cells, and verbally yells clear.

We use to have one officer in the unit, there are now two officers.

Because the administration split the yard the North side recs with the North side and the Southside recs with the Southside. The North side eats with the North side and the Southside eats with the Southside.

I moved to the Southside several days after arriving back. Because the yard is split each side get to use the rec center, and certain parts of the rec yard every other day.

I took up oil painting a few years ago, and enjoy going to the art room as often as I can. Therefore, I felt blessed when the administration allowed the rec center specialist to issue hobby craft passes that allow the inmates that do hobby crafts to be allowed to go to the rec center on all activity moves.

We have two standing counts on the week days, and three standing counts on the weekends.   At 4pm and 10 pm we must stand and be counted. The light must be on at 10 pm. On the weekends we must stand at 10am, 4pm, and 10 pm.

Whenever there is fog  they feed one unit at a time. As we go out the unit to the dinning hall there are officers all the way up the sidewalk to the dinning hall. After we eat and return back to the unit we lock in the cells. After they are finished feeding all the units, we have a standing count. T

hen there are lock down census counts. Often on these counts we must show our Id card, and tell the officer our register number. Needless to say we have a lot of counts.

Be well. Please Cherish, and enjoy your freedom.

Peace!

Randy

Life Without Parole for Marijuana – Thoughts on Mindfulness

Randy Panier, Life Without Parole for MarijuanaAs a practitioner of meditation, yoga, and Tai’Chi it is comforting to read about Corporate America and Universities coming around to endorse mindfulness.

I recently read an article about mindfulness becoming more mainstream.   Schools such as Harvard Business School, Claremont University, University of Nebraska Lincoln business school and  certain schools in Switzerland all have mindfulness classes. There is even app for mindfulness!

E bay, Twitter, Google and Facebook all have join the mindfulness bandwagon. They have come to realize that techniques that help relieve stress not only help the psychological and the physiological, but also help cut health care costs and increase productivity.

With all of this mindfulness spreading across America and the world, maybe, just maybe it will reach the Justice Department.  Perhaps they will become mindful and realize that Life Without Parole (LWOP) for marijuana is cruel and unusual punishment.

Be well.

The world is as you see it.

Randy