By Donald Perry, Uncensored, On The Record and On Film
In Washington Irving’s tale Rip Van Winkle slept for 20 years but even he finally woke up. Now, it is our turn to wake up and take immediate action to oppose Parole Chairman Josh Wall’s nomination for Judgeship in Massachusetts.
My name is Donald Perry. I’m a MA parolee and advocate for prison reform. Furthermore, I am one of many victims of Mr. Wall’s arrogance and over-all abuse of authority. Case in point, as most people know, August 3, 2011 while on parole I gave someone a ride…was pulled over after the person bailed out of my vehicle. In the process, stuff was left in my car that I assumed belonged to my passenger. Later, I was informed that there had been some break-ins in the area and the bag left in my car contained stolen merchandise. For my part though, I proved that I was home when the break-ins occurred and finger prints plus foot prints at the crime scene exonerated me further of committing a crime. The District Attorney assigned to the case ultimately charged me with receiving stolen property. Subsequently, there was a 4 day trial. The jury deliberated for about 2 hours or so and I was unanimously “acquitted” on “2” separate counts of Receiving Stolen Property.
I was on parole though and on the day of the acquittal I was returned to Walpole State Prison on a “Parole Warrant”, i.e. instead of being free to go home. This warrant was promptly lodged against me once I’d been taken into custody by MA State Police. To this day the Parole Officer that I had at the time has never spoke with me to find out what actually happened the morning of August 3, 2011. Once I returned to Walpole, I was subjected to a variety of assumptions and mistreatment by parole personnel under the supervision and leadership of Parole Chairman Josh Wall.
During my incarceration I was represented by Attorney Luke Ryan and his father, former First Justice of Northampton District Court, Judge Michael Ryan. Neither could believe the way they were treated by Parole Personnel. According to former Judge Ryan,“ You have to surrender your humanity. Your treatment is so degrading.” He goes on to say, “They don’t practice the common courtesy of the court system. There was no constitutional protections.”
Subsequently, after my earlier stated acquittal and exoneration of allegations of committing any crimes, it took about 8 months for me to go before a full parole panel to petition to be re-paroled. Based on the parole warrant and repetitive statements by parole personnel, publicly people were lead to believe and I was even prepared at my hearing to be thoroughly interrogated to determine whether or not I committed a crime or violated any of the conditions of my previous parole. Surprisingly though, my hearing lasted for approx. 2 hours and a half. The majority of this time was spent questioning me about several past romantic relationships, the fact that I had held several different jobs, etc. with about 5 minutes or so discussing the events of August 3rd. After the hearing it took another 7 months to get the panel’s decision. I was finally released 6 months later. That means I remained incarcerated for 1 year and 7 months after proving via the above-stated facts that I didn’t commit a crime or do anything to violate the conditions of my parole.
Chairman Josh Wall was not at my Revocation Hearing or Parole Release Hearing. We have never talked and he has never questioned me about any of the events of August 3rd. However, when interviewed by film-producer Joe Berlinger for his debut in the recently produced 8-part justice documentary called “The System” Mr. Wall states “ I’m not exactly sure what his role was but in some way he/Mr. Perry was connected to breaking into his neighbor’s house and the Parole Board can’t tolerate that.”
I resent Mr. Wall’s statement for “2” reasons:
#1. The truth supported by clear and actual facts of being alibied… forensic evidence and an acquittal by a jury proved on August 3rd I did not commit a crime or engage in any activity to violate the conditions of my parole.
#2. Since my incarceration in 1983 I’ve worked hard to turn my life around. In fact, as a Black man I’ve often had to work twice as harder as anyone else to accomplish the smallest goal. As a result, in the past 25 to 30 years I’ve diligently invested a lot of waking hours, energy and effort into achieving my accomplishments thus-far. Recently, Colorado Cure referenced my strife and accomplishments when stating “Donald Perry, paroled in 2001 after nearly 19 years of incarceration has become a poster-child for successful re-entry. He finished college and became an advocate for the homeless, a community servant in high regard.”
I have never met Mr. Wall nor have I ever had a conversation with him. But, during his interview Mr. Wall callously and wantonly dismissed my life’s struggle with mere speculations and assumptions. This act was not fair nor remotely humane or even grounded in conviction. Mr. Wall tries to justify his action when stating “The important piece of evidence is that Mr. Perry had the Ipad and he’s being followed by the police.” He goes on to say, “”When you put these pieces of information together, if you’re experienced in these matters like parole board members would be who have assessed situations, it wasn’t a difficult call to make.”
For anyone capable of thinking for themselves and analyzing what Mr. Wall is saying this still doesn’t make commonsense. Case in point, how can he or the parole board possibly refute the factual evidence demonstrating that I didn’t do anything wrong? And, if he or the parole board could actually prove I committed a crime or violated the conditions of my parole, shouldn’t they have kept me in custody???
None of that makes sense and retired Judge Ryan adequately accessed the situation when he said, “It’s just so arbitrary. If you believe in American values and the rights of the constitution…these people don’t. As a matter of fact I said to Luke, I think it’s un-American. They have no respect for a jury system. The right to confront your accuser. The right to have impartial people decide your fate. There’s none of that in this parole system.”
This is just my story, but multiply it by the hundreds if not thousands of people who have been and are currently being ill-affected by the abusive procedures and practices of the MA Parole System, you will agree that Josh Wall should not be rewarded for his supervision and leadership of the MA Parole System. In years to come this debacle is going to cost the state of MA millions upon millions of dollars it can ill-afford.
So, wake up Massachusetts out of your slumber. It’s time to crawl out of your cocoons and take immediate action to oppose Josh Wall’s nomination for a judgeship.