DEATH * BY * METH

This is dedicated to Travis Holappa who was kidnapped, tortured and murdered on July 25, 2004 in Northern Minnesota. This was all due to meth. I am Travis' mother and I wish to make this devastation turn into a better thing by educating and exposing the truth about meth, the dangers, and the deadly consequences it brings about to individuals and communities.

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Location: Colorado, United States

I want to do what I can to educate people about what is going on around the world with the meth problem. I want people to know about it BEFORE they even get the idea to want to try it. It is a dangerous drug and will ruin your life as well as all those who love you. I am on a mission on behalf of my only son, Travis.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Mercy pleas: Official panel weighs inmates' petitions (Arizona)

http://www.azstarnet.com/dailystar/metro/114604
By Kim Smith
Arizona Daily Star
Tucson, Arizona

Published: 02.06.2006

Olivia Meza didn't waste time.
"This is not a trial and this is not a debate," Meza told relatives and friends of five state prison inmates who were seeking early release. "I understand that you have an agenda, but this is my interview, and I have certain things I want to know."
It was Jan. 10. Meza and three other Arizona State Board of Executive Clemency members were at the Arizona State Prison in Florence to hear pleas for mercy.
For nine hours, they listened to five inmates hoping for an early release and their relatives, as well as 16 former convicts praying they wouldn't be sent back to prison.
Last year, 907 inmates asked to get out of prison early. Eight made it successfully through the three-step process. And not all of them were released. Some just had their sentences reduced.
Jan. 10 was much the same. All five returned to prison. Twelve of the 16 who had been free on supervised release were returned, too.
People sent to prison since 1994 have to serve 85 percent of their sentences before being freed to complete their time on supervised release. To get out early, they have to make it through two clemency board hearings and convince the governor they deserve freedom.
The board, which is appointed by the governor, spent Jan. 10 hearing the arguments of convicted child molesters, kidnappers, gang members and robbers.
The only two things the board wanted to hear, Meza told them, was why they thought their sentences were too harsh and why the board should believe they will be law-abiding citizens if they're released.
A majority vote sends a recommendation to Gov. Janet Napolitano, who has the final say.
The board spent 90 minutes listening to former Phoenix police officer Anthony William Bunten, sentenced to 12 years in 2003 for having oral sex with a 13-year-old boy.
Bunten, 38, argued that others convicted of similar crimes received less severe sentences. He admitted to "poor judgment."
He'll never be able to return to police work, but he and several relatives said he can work in the family hardware business.
Jaime Lopez, 25, was sent to prison in 2004 for a carjacking, home invasion case. He was armed with a .380 caliber handgun and agreed to tie up the victims for his friends because he owed them a $500 drug debt.
He didn't think he should have to wait until 2009 to be free. "It's the first time I've ever done anything like this," he said. "I was young and I was stupid."
He also admitted to using methamphetamine, cocaine, PCP and marijuana.
"You're dangerous," Meza told him. "The governor is just starting a major meth campaign and what do you think she's going to say?"
When asked why the board should believe Lopez won't use drugs again, he said: "I know. I just know."
Neither Lopez nor Bunten's case was sent to the governor.
Board members, who are appointed to five-year terms, earn $45,759 annually. Chairman Duane Belcher Sr., who also is executive director, makes $68,036.
The process starts with a review of an inmate's file, queries to the victim and prosecutor and a meeting with the inmate's family. Those who pass that phase get a hearing like those held Jan. 10, after which the case may go to the governor.
Of the roughly 65 to 75 clemency requests that reach her each year, Napolitano typically grants about 15 percent, about the same rate as her two Republican predecessors.
Donna Hamm, executive director of Middle Ground Prison Reform, said the board's decisions in the past seemed to hinge upon what the members thought the governor would do.
Over the last five to 10 years though, decisions have been "reflective of careful consideration," she said. "They will pass a case on along whether they believe the governor will approve it or not, and to me, that's what they should be doing."
It's the governor's decisions that bear looking into, she said, as they often seem based on such things as how active and vocal victims are, the type of case and if it's an election year.
Her husband, James Hamm, had his murder sentence commuted, but then-Gov. Rose Mofford rescinded the commutation after a public outcry, she said.
Tad Roberts, the newest board member, said he respects Napolitano, but he is his "own man." Often, he said, the decision comes down to the interview with the inmate and not what is written on paper.
"You've got to be able to look at people with an open mind."
Though the number of inmate requests that reach the governor is small, board members insist the process isn't a waste of time. Everyone in prison is someone's mother, father, brother or sister, and they deserve a second chance, board member Marshall Porter said.
Most people likely remember things they aren't proud of, said board chairman Belcher, using drunken driving as an example.
That said, the board never forgets its number-one consideration, Belcher said.
"Public safety comes first," he said. "How is that person different today than they were 10 years ago or 25 years ago?"

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