At age six, author Jase Haber proclaimed he needed an agent because he wanted to be an actor. Haber can’t remember ever wanting to be something else. In Prince of Cons, Haber shares his life story and his circuitous route to realizing his long-held dream. Born in Miami, South Florida, Haber was the youngest of three siblings with strong Cuban ancestry and was raised in a traditional Latino, Catholic family. He was only eleven or twelve years old when he used his acting skills to carry out his first con, which then became a way of life. This memoir tells how Haber, always seeking to be successful, escalated into a world of drugs and crime, eventually serving time in federal prison. Prince of Cons narrates how Haber lived a long life in a short while and how he now focuses on avoiding crime, being productive, providing for his family, and pursuing his acting career.
www.princeofcons.com Get your copy today!!
By MARY CLARE JALONICK, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration on Monday expressed support for bipartisan Senate legislation that would reduce prison sentences for some nonviolent drug offenders, a rare issue where conservatives and liberals agree that the current system is overwhelmed and in desperate need of reform.
Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates told the Senate Judiciary Committee that the bill is "a good step" toward striking a balance in sentencing such offenders. The legislation would give judges the discretion to give sentences that are less than federal mandatory minimums in some cases. It would eliminate mandatory life sentences for three-time, nonviolent drug offenders, reducing those minimum sentences to 25 years.
The aims of the bill are to make the sentencing system fairer, reduce recidivism and contain rising prison costs. The federal prison population has exploded since 1980, in part because of mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders.
Yates said the administration has similar goals.
"Because our laws cast too broad a net, we have a hard time distinguishing between the cartel leader who needs to be in prison for a long time from the mope who doesn't," Yates said. "This comes with great costs — costs to operate our prison system, costs to our communities and families and costs to the public's confidence in our system of justice."
In a display of bipartisanship, the legislation is backed by some of the most powerful senators, including Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and the top Democrat on the panel, Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy. Texas Sen. John Cornyn, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, and Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Democrat, are also supporters.
The bill is a compromise. While some of the Democrats wanted to eliminate mandatory minimums, Republicans like Grassley were concerned that reducing them could let dangerous criminals go free. Partly to placate some of those conservatives, the Senate legislation would create two new mandatory minimums for some charges related to domestic violence and terrorism.
"None of us is going to be happy and we're not going to do better than what we have in front of us," Grassley said at the hearing.
The bill also received the backing of former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, who served for two years under President George W. Bush. Mukasey testified at the hearing in support of the legislation.
Under the bill, some current inmates could get their sentences reduced by as much as 25 percent by taking part in rehabilitation programs, if they are deemed a low risk to offend again. The bill would also create new programs to help prisoners successfully re-enter society.
The bill would require eligible inmates to undergo regular assessments to determine the likelihood of committing another crime. Inmates deemed to be a low risk for a repeat offense could get their prison sentences shortened by 10 days for every 30 days they participate in a rehabilitation program. These inmates could serve the last part of their sentences in community-based programs in which they would be supervised by authorities.
The bill comes as disparate voices — from President Barack Obama and the ACLU to the conservative Koch Industries — agree the current system is broken. In 1980, the federal prison population was less than 25,000. Today, it is more than 200,000.
At the same time, national attention has focused on how police and the criminal justice system treat minorities after several high-profile deaths of black men in police custody in Missouri, Maryland, New York and elsewhere.
In July, Obama became the first president to visit a federal prison while in office. He called for changes in the criminal justice system, saying a distinction had to be made between young people doing "stupid things" and violent criminals.
While most members of the Judiciary panel appear to support the bill, one senator spoke out with concerns. Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, a Republican and a former federal prosecutor, said the mandatory minimums have worked. He said he is concerned that efforts to scale them back could reverse progress in reducing crime.
"The only real teeth out there are the mandatory minimums," Sessions said.
House lawmakers introduced similar legislation to reduce some mandatory minimums this month. It is less comprehensive than the Senate bill, but House Judiciary Committee Chairman Robert Goodlatte has said his panel plans to introduce additional bills.
Original Article: http://www.usnews.com/news/politics/articles/2015/10/19/obama-administration-backs-bill-to-reduce-prison-time?page=2
Innocent Arsonist Joseph Zacarolo, says his side of the story while serving 20 years in Petersburg Federal Prison!
I had the pleasure of meeting this young man in prison, and this is his story
January, 2005, is when I met my girlfriend. She was employed at an assistant living home as a medical technician. Her hair was long, pulled back in two French braids, blonde, and curly. Her eyes were the type that changed between blue and green depending on the season, which only complemented her petite 120lb, 5'7'' frame. We only greeted each other that initial meeting, but it was enough to have me wonder for days to come.
We later began to speak when her number was provided by a close friend. This same friend mothered my two children and with whom I had a relationship for six years. She was a woman of great sensibility, understanding, and composure. She was far than I deserved.
My girlfriend and I began interacting more frequently through discussion, primarily text. She was fascinating, to discover our similarities didn't require much time. We were both raised in the types of areas that didn't find poverty unusual, there wasn't much wealth, unstable homes that required frequent relocation were common, and while we both experienced different family issues, the same amount of dysfunction was present. To me, our commonalities were shared on a deeper plain than simple superficial interests.
A few months passed before I made a visit for her birthday. We spent that night together for the first time. I've never felt that degree of anxiety in my entire life. My objective was not to simply impress her, but to captivate her. I entered her house with all the confidence of an alpha, which immediately shattered when I saw her. She was gorgeous, far better than me; I found myself shy and reserved. Nervous would be the proper term. But some how, I rediscovered my confidence and did my best to present to her an unforgettable night. We enjoyed each other physically for the first time that evening ending the night together along side on another. She and I continued our relationship in private, enjoying each other through text messages, phone calls, and visits. Her smile was my motivation, and I found myself thinking only of that smile. She was perfect to me, a perception that has yet to change.
Three months past, March, 2005; there was an abrupt absence of texts messages, which convinced me that something was wrong. We traded short comments to begin the day, early in the afternoon her messages stopped. I sent her messages inquiring about her whereabouts. Three or four hours elapsed before her response was received. The message was short and vague. She informed me later that day she was the victim of a physical assault. The news was sudden; I was confused but mostly angry. How she felt was practically incomprehensible. I couldn't understand what she was feeling. I could only understand how I thought she should have felt. We spoke later that night about the incident. She provided the details in the best capacity possible, obviously she remained distraught about the matter, assuring me she just wanted to forget.
As an introvert a great amount of my time is allotted to introspection. I learned quickly that without anchors my mind can become quagmired in a series of iterations of the particulars of a situation. The issue is pondered, repeated, and analyzed. Each iteration develops into something more than the previous iteration. It becomes more detailed, more elaborate, more,....emotionally compromising. The emotion intensifies, becomes more perverse. Unfortunately, the emotion that began to toxify was rage in respect to this particular situation. There are triggers for this psychological complex, which in this case was her desire to forget.
My mind burned, I was confused, angry, hurt. But I was aware, before all else, that it was how she felt that mattered. The current situation wasn't about me, it was about her, and my place was to provide support. However, emotional immaturity made it very difficult to do anything but rage. I was incapable of understanding how someone could commit such an offense. The idea of an individual imposing himself upon a woman physically inferior angered me. The victimization of another made me furious, the scenario continued to re-enact itself in my mind, growing, developing, becoming something that seemed to germinate and suffocate every other thought until that thought was all that remained. This resulted in me making a situation about another into a situation about me.
My brother was in town for the weekend. Biologically were were born to different parents, but our relationship was much more profound than simply "Friends". We shared similarities that only brothers would share, and deep within me knows those similarities are why I sought him. It was a Friday morning when I visited his house and explained the situation. He listened, and thought, as my brother always did. My brother is a poet, able to comprehend and articulate all ideas concisely. He is far more intelligent than I, but was still immature himself at the time, and therefore, unable to express his true potential for rational thought. Unfortunately, this exposed him to the folly of making poor decisions. I was no different.
There were many influences that contributed to my decision to commit my crime. Some influences were greater than others, many influences were internal while others were external. Regardless, it is neither the amount nor magnitude of influences that determine our choices in life, no matter the significance or insignificance. Decisions are our own, based on how well an individual is in tune with morality. An individual's understanding of higher virtues and how well that individual expresses that understanding places one on the right path to make better decision to further himself in life. However, that particular night, any significant connection to higher virtues were severed, and anything that remained was simply a distorted perversion of what I thought was right.
My intent that night was to frighten, to deliver a warning. I felt justified, for one initiatory action creates a retaliatory reaction. Six improvised incendiary device were manufactured; commonly referred to as Molotov Cocktails. Molotov Cocktails have no other purpose than to destroy, which was required for my intended purpose that night. Two .22 caliber pistols were also employed, used to discharge into the residence. Late in the evening, I traveled to the house of alleged assailant, along with my brother and others. Exiting my vehicle, all six Molotov cocktails were ignited, instantly everything illuminated. The residence, the vehicle, the terrain, all ablaze. We brought day light to the night. There were gunshots behind me, multiple bullets entered the home. We left the area as quickly as we arrived.
The reaction came quickly, newspaper articles, brief stints on the local news, public conversations, detective interrogations, all the usual responses. The authorities had me in custody not four days after the offense. Others provided multiple statement of what occurred, our roles in the offense, who manufactured what, and finer details such as what was said during the night. Certain accounts were slightly exaggerated, while others were blatant lies, but in the end the detectives had all they needed for their conviction.
Shortly after arrest, I satisfied a $150,000 bond. During my eleven months on bond my life systematically deteriorated. I experienced bouts of depression, anxiety, paranoia. The mother of my children left me, which she had every right to do, my home was destroyed, casualty of my temper, and my girlfriend felt I ruined her life by attracting unwanted attention to her situation. Material possessions never had much value to me, with the exception of a Ford Escort that always seemed to survive some drunken form of abuse through which I put it. Life, at this point, was one poor decision after another, which continued for my time bonded until I found myself homeless, living in the back seat of my Escort, alternating between Wal-Mart, K-Mart, and Mall parking lots.
My last two months of freedom found me with nothing, my Ford was gone, broken axel, caused by too much alcohol, no residence, waiting trial. I did, however, have the pleasure of spending one more night with my girlfriend prior to my Federal Indictment, which arrived four days after that night. She seemed to be in good place at that time, and I decided to refrain from discussing my misfortune. The details of that night remains more vivid to me now then the initial portion of my incarceration. I was happy to spend my remaining days near her.
February, 2006, the Federal Government issued a four count indictment. I was placed in custody February 10th. The proceedings were text book, arraignment, plea agreement, sentencing. I received a 268 month prison term. The courts found that based on a codefendants statement that my intent the night of the crime was to murder. For this, the courts found a cross reference to first degree attempted murder applicable. This provided the majority of my time.
For the most part, Prison is an experience equal to that of high school, it's a popularity contest; shallow and superficial. However, for those searching to improve themselves it can be an enlightening experience. Prison is where I began to be become aware of my values; it is where I have become more in tune with my virtues. By defining my virtues, I began to understand them, which allowed me to become an improved representation of them. My character is what defines me, not my poor decisions. With the time that I have vested over the years, I have acquired diploma's, certifications, and trades, that best reflect who I am, and emphasize my strengths in order to provide a successful future for me. Even though my greatest achievements have been made in prison, those same achievements are no less significant to those which were made during my freedom. I have used my time, not wasted it. My time has worked for me, not against me. And that is credited to a strong character and determination required to prevail this environment. I am neither proud nor ashamed of my incarceration, I identify it as another challenge in a life full of many, for it's the challenges in life that substantiate the success. The greater the challenge, the greater the sense of satisfaction. My philosophy has directed me accept that life is easy, but to live, that is hard. To live, is to experience, to experience is to be brave. I welcome, now, new experiences and challenges. To achieve within my own standards is true success, it is something in which to be proud.
The American prison system today is in crisis resulting in many prisoners not having their basic human rights met. One of the major problems is that of overcrowding, which in turn results in a host of other problems.
When a person is incarcerated the prisoner is dependent on the state to provide adequate shelter, food and medical care. These are basic needs and these are not being met in the American prison system and thus many inmates are being forced to live in inhumane conditions.
The level of overcrowding in the American prisons varies but in Californian prisons it has been described as “exceptional” with the prisons there operating at around 200% of what they should be. This degree of overcrowding obviously has an impact on the safety of the officers and the inmates.
It also has an impact on physical and mental illness, and prisoners are not getting the treatment they need and in some cases this has led to the death of inmates.
Overcrowding results in infectious disease spreading quicker and prison violence rising. And because of this lockdowns are common and often last for weeks if not months.
After spending some time there, it makes you value things so much more. And I was there for a short period of time, I cant even bare to imaging those who spent more time in prison than in the out side world.
The system is definitely broken and no one seems to care, these people are suffering every day and we go on with our lives. What ever happened to caring about those in need? Some of them may deserve a life in prison but some of these guys are serving 20 years for selling a little bit of crack.
Why not help them beat there addictions instead of imprisoning them with no chance of rahabilitation. This is definitely not the America I thought I lived in. I once loved and trusted the government. Until I saw what they do to there own people.
The worst part about this whole Epidemic is that its all a business, the government is profiting millions by taking peoples entire lives, wrecking families, continuing the cycle. When is this going to stop? We have a 5% of the worlds population but have more people in prison than every country. Over 2 million inmates and counting…
Prisoners may have lost many rights when they are incarcerated but they should not have to lose their human dignity.
This is the first time in my life I write a blog so bare with me... I'd like to begin by stating that I had the honor of meeting Billy in prison. I can still remember the first time I saw him, in R and D, for those of you who don't know what that is, its Receiving and Departures. He works there. He sees every new face that walks and every face that walks out. And its been like that for the last 14 years. I can't even grasp how difficult thats had to be for him, seeing so many people leaving as he still serves 14 years of a 30 year sentence. After our first initial conversation I was actually assigned to his unit, Delaware hall at FCI Petersburg. I was literally in the cell next door, what we call the fish bowl, which is a cell that holds 6 inmates instead of the normal 2 man cells. Billy instantly noticed I was lost and was willing to give a helping hand, teaching me the ropes and letting me know what to do and what not to do. The more i got to know him and the more i got to know other inmates, i realized he wasn't like the rest of them. He was different. He was smart, well spoken, wise, not your typical inmate. He has actually used prison to better himself. Its sad to say they gave this man a 30 years sentence on a Conspiracy Charge for Cocaine distribution. Does the crime fit the punishment? taking 30 years of a mans life? how is he expected to survive in society if he has spent the last 30 years in prison? these where all the questions on my mind. And i asked him..... His response was: Im preparing my self so when i do go out there i have other avenues. I was 24 years old when they sentenced me to 30 years, I had a young boy i left out there... He then told me the crime definitely didn't fit the punishment, i wasn't selling drugs to those who didn't want to buy it, i was young and stupid. Im going to end up serving more time in prison than i was alive at the time of my arrest. Billy was not only a motivation for me but showed me what true strength is, he has endured more pain than anyone could ever imagine, watching his son grow up through pictures. And just like Billy theres many more that have lost there entire lives over a mistake they made in there life. Don't we all make mistakes? His story has touched my heart, he is a true friend, never expected anything from me but friendship. So if you guys have time, spread the word and let people know what we are trying to do here, lets let people like Billy know we support them!
If you anyone would like to contact him directly and show him some love and support, heres the address below:
FCC Petersburg Low
P.O. Box 1000
Petersburg, VA 23804
Below is a copy of a letter i recently received.