Interview with Recently-Released Men Who Had Been Serving Juvenile Life-Without-Parole Sentences
September 14, 2017
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In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court held in Miller v. Alabama that it is unconstitutional to sentence a juvenile offender to mandatory life-without-parole. A 2016 ruling allowed this to be applied retroactively. In practical terms, this means that those juvenile offenders previously sentenced to mandatory life-with-out-parole can seek re-sentencing by the trial court. That is exactly what happened to John Pace, Stacey Torrance, and Charles Brown. They were featured in a Philadelphia Inquirer article from September 6, 2017, about formerly-incarcerated "juvenile lifers." In this, the third episode of the Inside-Out podcast, Dave Krueger talks with them about their experiences of higher education in prison and the role that Inside-Out courses played in their personal and professional development.
- 2:25 – Charles Brown, Stacey Torrance, and John Pace introduce themselves.
- 3:05 – You are all alumni of Inside-Out courses, which combine incarcerated and non-incarcerated students together for semester-long courses. Could you describe what it was like to meet the "outside" students on the first day of class?
- 8:10 – What were some of the techniques in the Inside-Out classroom that you thought were most helpful to get students to engage in dialogue with one another?
- 13:26 – How is the Inside-Out approach to teaching different than other teaching approaches you have encountered? What do you think are the attributes and methods of an effective educator?
- 18:23 – Given the highly divisive political and cultural climate in the U.S. today, do you think the Inside-Out model of dialogue and learning can have any relevance in the world outside of prisons and jails?
- 23:36 – What kind of an impact did Inside-Out courses have on you personally while you were living inside the prison? Do you think that these courses had any effect on changing the culture of the prison?
- 30:40 – The three of you are just a few months into your new life on the outside of prison. What's next for you? What are you looking forward to?
- 36:43 – Where do you see yourselves five years from now?
John Pace: I served 31 years of a life sentence, most recently at SCI-Graterford. I now work as a program associate for the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program and lead a monthly support group for those adapting to life outside of prison.
Stacey Torrance: I went to prison at the age of 14 for second-degree murder and served 29 years of a life without parole sentence. If I would sum up my life up to this present day, in a phrase, I would say: "With every hardship comes a greater relief and benefit. Contemplate the meaning of these words and you will have taken a glimpse of my life.
Charles Brown: I went to prison at the age of 16 and served 36 years. I hope one day to become a successful entrepreneur. I'm grateful to have a second chance.
After serving 31 years in prison, John now works as a program associate for the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program.
Stacey Torrance (left) and Charles Brown (right) served part of their sentences together at SCI-Chester outside of Philadelphia.