Wednesday, March 10, 2010
CCI, PO Box 900
Portage, WI 53901
My name is Jacob Baker . I was convicted of 1st degree intentional homicide and attempted armed robbery in Milwaukee Co. I was 15 years, old a “run away at the time and I received a sentence of life imprisonment with a parole eligibility the court at 2046. I would be 65 years old and have been incarcerated 50 years straight when I’m first eligible for parole. Right now I’m 29 years old and have been in prison for 14 years. It has been a long road and regrettably not always a positive one. As of his writing I am sitting in Wisconsin’s Supermax and am considered one of the state’s most dangerous prisoners. I wish I could add to the examples of those juvenile offenders who were waived, sent into adult prisons, I stayed on a positive track from the start, however I’m not-but I still feel my story can add some useful into a “juvi” who’s grown up in the system, has changed and is not a throw away kid and why juvenile justice reform should be supported.
It has been only the last couple of years that I have become more conscious of my actions and responsibilities as an accountable person, regardless if I’m in prison or not. Unfortunately a lot of young men in the system get caught up in a terrible cycle of anger, frustration, fear, desperation and never moved past it, because the system isn’t set up to help them deal with what they are going through . kids are just thrown in a cell and left to sink or swim. Most kids sent into the system are good kids though, they’ve made a mistake but still want to be responsible, to be respectable- sometimes it takes a little time to figure it out on our own, so not all of us have a perfect record to present, but most kids who commit their crimes as juvenile offenders do not understand the severity of their actions or the consequences at the time (most of the crimes are extremely unfortunate reactionary unthought-out situations)and it isn’t until later in life do they actually realize what they exactly they’ve done. It isn’t just a “copout” excuse for one’s actions. There definitely is a disconnect between the child minded juvenile who committed the crime and the adult minded man he is to become.
The crime I committed involves a 14 year old female accomplice and I breaking into an apartment to burglarize it for “run away” money, it was only intended to be a burglary, nothing more. We were surprised by a person being in the apartment as we burglarized it and the situation spiraled out of control. Some very reactionary and stupid decisions were made that left an innocent person dead. Shocked by what happened, we both left the apartment immediately. We were both caught shortly after, and were both waived into adult court.
When I first came into the adult prison system that wasn’t made for getting by or rehabilitation. I was sent to one of WI’s worst prisons. Known for its routine violence and nicknamed “gladiator school” because of it.
Most kids who enter this sink or swim environment don’t start off with a very good track record for positive prison adjustment whether they’re rehabilitated or not.. that’s reality and I was no exception. And unfortunately I was caught p in that cycle for many years. However, this doesn’t mean me or other Kids were not rehabilitatable . Most of us were(and are) just trying to get by in an environment. Most of us kids have , with time, grown and matured and genuinely want to be good productive people given a second chance, not just what we’ve been labeled because of the grievous mistakes we made as children- throw aways-or products of the prison environment. We want to be good, we want to be responsible.
I may not have started my prison sentence off very well and I am still paying for that. But I have grown up and I’ve learned to take responsibility for myself and my actions. I truly feel sorry for the crime that I committed and the hurt and pain I caused. As a kid I wasn’t even close to understanding the severity of the crime I committed –it wasn’t until later as an adult I read the court record that I realized what I did and it is still hard for me to reconcile the fact that I committed this crime with the me I am today because today I am an adult and a different person.
Does this mean that I or others should not have been sent to prison or be held accountable for wrong doings and crime? No, That’s not what’s being proposed here. What’s being proposed is that a child who is waived into adult court and sentenced to life, if , after time, this person has shown remorse and extensive rehabilitation, and that he will positively serve society if released under supervision, that a second chance be given.
Whether ever given a second chance or not, I have recently changed my life and plan to be positive and productive in all things I do. I will always be burdened by my past, the crime that I committed. I will bear that burden as a reminder to work twice as hard and be twice as committed to positive change. Thank you for our time and God bless.