Frank Barker, age 47
San Jose, California
I was 16 when I committed a murder. Nine years after the fact, I was convicted through DNA. So I was 25 and fighting to have a juvenile charge. At 15 I was on probation. I got a Violation of Parole for stealing cigarettes and returned to Juvie instead of doing community service. I was living in the Central Valley. I was 13 when my Dad divorced. He was kept out of my life. My mom worked for social services. She dealt with physical, verbal and emotional neglect. She loved every kid but her own. She would abuse me and my 13-year-old sister. She knew the system and made me lie for her. I made poor choices. I was in Juvie Court for a year later when I was 25. I was held in county jail then bound over to superior court as an adult. They tried to give me the death penalty so they pushed it over to adult charges. I got 15 to life. I have had two parole hearings. Last time I got seven-year denial for lack of parole plans. I had enemies when I was a kid. After 18 that was minimized. I have been clean and in programs since—for the last 21 years, I’ve had no write ups. I’ve had good positive programming. I have been working in PIA and bookbinding. PIA is Prison Industry Association. I get 75 cents/hour at the book-bindery. With the money I take care of myself and can send money to a victims fund. I also send money to a battered women’s shelter. I have kids that are 28, 25, 24 year old. They don’t visit. They are in Arkansas and Missouri. They are good kids. No trouble. My best friends visit. He is Christian… he was my friend right before I fell—I got locked up. I am in LTOP—Long Term Offender Program. I am also in the Vitim Impact program. It is the first time it was offered. If they had more programming I would take them all. We should have more like this. There are two panel members on the parole board. Now it becomes relevant.