PO Box 900
Portage, WI 3901
My name is Jose Manuel Bonilla. I was born in Milwaukee Wisconsin, but mainly I was raised in New York with my father. I had a very difficult childhood. My father kidnapped me twice when I was a baby from my mother. I was raised not really knowing who my mother was until the age of 6, when the FBI came and took me from school and brought me to the care of a woman with whom I've never known or met till then. I had
a hard time adjusting, I was introduced to brothers and sisters who I never knew I had. With time, I grew to love and know my mother and family.
My father, when I had turned 9, somehow managed to gain custody of me at which time he brought me back to New York to live. I resented my father for taking me back away from my mother. I had a problem readjusting to living with my father again. I attended school and did good. I led the school marching band, performed Piano solos and led concerts at the schools I attended. I was in the Boy Scouts too. Both my parents were very poor and I never had the things I wanted, but I had what I needed.
My father was a heavy alcoholic and was very abusive at times, which led to (CPS) Child Protection Services taking me away at the age of 10 or 11. I was placed in a run away shelter for several weeks, then transferred to an (RTC) Residential Treatment Center in upstate New York. While in the (RTC), I started having a lot of problems with the other guys around me. Getting picked on and fighting a lot. I started trying out drugs like weed and liquor that would get snuck in the RTC by some of the guys.
I was then sent to a group home when I was 13 and started doing well again. I had a personal tutor, I attended work shops and various youth programs. I saved a little money and finally decided to come back to WI and live with my mom. I found out my mother was very sick, so I could take it no longer and I ran from the group home in New York, and came out here to be with my mother and help her. I was in school and was very helpful to my mom. I noticed how hard things were for her financially while she tried to support me, my niece and her sister who was very sick. My aunt had this disease called PIC, its similar to alzheimers disease except it begins at an earlier age. I loss two uncles to the disease also. My mom couldn't take care of my aunt anymore and was forced to place her into a nursing home.
Not long after, my mother passed away when I was 15. After she passed away, I pretty much spiraled out. I was in deep depression. I started to drink again heavy and smoke weed. I was still in school and had found a job with family as a painters apprentice. I got a girl pregnant, but she had a miscarriage.
Then I caught the case that I'm in prison for now. I went to a Marquett College party with 3 other guys. I only knew one of them though a gun was brought along, I ended up getting a hold of it. When we got to the party we weren't allowed in. An argument broke out over some racial remarks that were said to us because it was assumed that all of us were Latino. We tried to leave, the guy who I thought to be my friend at the time continued to argue. I went up to the porch to get him since he was the driver. When I got to the porch to pull him away, the guys he was arguing with pushed us off the porch. We both landed on the concrete walkway. The guys on the porch started to come off the porch towards us, reacted out of fear and pulled the gun out and shot once towards the crowd to back them up. They kept coming off the porch and out of the house. There were a bunch of people on top of my so called friend and I fired another shot towards the group of people to get them away from him. I got up and ran toward the car and noticed one the of the other guys I was with calling for help. I ran behind the big guy who was on top of him and fired a shot that went the big guy and into the guy I was with unfortunately wounding them both. I later learned that my the first shot i fired hit someone in the shoulder and went through someone else's jacket, luckily not injuring him. The second shot I fired hit the same guy that I had injured in the back, in his jaw. Somehow he was unaware of the injury because he continued to fight the guy who called out for help.
I was charged with one Reckless Injury in the first degree, two Reckless Endangerments in the first degree, and one in the second. I was facing a total of 82 years. At the Jury selection, right before trial, my Attorney told me that it would be my last opportunity to except the plea agreement, which was that I plead guilty to the Reckless Injury and one Reckless Endangerment which would be reduced to the second degree the other two charges would be dropped and read in for sentencing purposes. I would be then exposed to a 45 year sentence. It was up to the judges discretion at sentencing. The Attorney told me that I would not be getting more than 10 years in prison max. My father was a paralegal in New York and was well versed in the law, so before excepting my plea, I asked to call him in N.Y. My Attorney let me call right there on his cell phone in the court room. I ran down to my father what the Attorney said, then my father spoke to my Attorney to confirm. He told me that the Attorney said that I would not be serving more than 10 years max in prison if I took the plea but that he would be fighting for 7 years.
The Attorney explained that because of my age, this being my first felony offense and the fact that I was taking responsibility for my actions, the judge won't give more than 10 years in prison max. So with the impression that the judge wouldn't be sentencing me to more than 10 years in prison, even though I still felt that rather harsh, I took the plea. As a result, I was sentenced to the whole 45 years. Under the Truth In Sentencing Law, so I am to do 30 years in prison with 15 years of extended supervision. Both charges were ran consecutive.
I have been incarcerated now for more than 5 years. I am still trying to fight my case through the court system, but with no success. At the moment I am on my second Appeal attempt, Pro Se, which is currently in front of the court of Appeals. Since my incarceration, I have managed to obtain my HSED. I have graduated from one vocational program (so far), I have become a Certified Tutor for the DOC with a certificate from the Literary Volunteers of America. I tutored both the ESL (Non-English speaking) and the Special Education Needs students as well which honestly takes a lot of patience, especially when trying to teach English as a Bilingual Tutor. I am currently completing a Coping Skills program which I've finished and am awaiting to take CGIP and Anger Management also. I will be signing up to take Restorative Justice soon too. I am also working on starting a college correspondence course soon to get my Associates Degree in either Law (paralegal), Psychology or Business Management. I have set for myself realistic goals for my future while I continue to strive for my freedom, not allowing my current situation to discourage me.
In 5 years I have matured far beyond my years, forced to grow up very quickly, I am now 22 years old. I have a lot of plans I would like to bring to the community. I really want to focus on the Latino Community who don't speak English, opening workshops for the juveniles to learn English and more about their culture, as well spread my story to encourage kids & teens to head in a new direction. I have a lot of ideas and things I would like to accomplish in life as you can see. But most importantly, I am focused on the one thing I lack the most, my "FREEDOM!• • •
As you have read, I have had a rough life. I've lost both my parents at a young age, my father several months ago. I have almost no support at the moment, but I hold a deep drive within to regain my freedom and make my own family. 30 Years is too much time for anyone to have to do, let alone a young man. I am not one to avoid my consequences, I understand the severity of my actions. I acted in defense of myself and others, but I also acknowledge the results of my actions. I took full responsibility for my actions at the age of 17, which shows the sense of responsibility I had then. I entered the prison system at 17, a young teen, and am to get out at the age of 47! An old man! No offense! But honestly, what can could I offer to the community and society at such an age? What experiences would I be able to share with others? All I will know know is these prison walls. I was sentenced as though I've taken 2 lives! I know of others who are doing less or equal time for double murders and homicides! I feel as though I've lost my life for a mistake that I made when I was younger.
This situation has truly been a difficult one for me in which I've matured through, but I continue to move ahead and pray that one day I will get the second chance I deserve. I've been told over and over again how harsh my sentence was and I hope others will see as well. Too many of us are having our lives taken away with no opportunities for change...
I don't expect you to have the key to my freedom, I only ask for the assistance in sharing what I and many others view as extreme and harsh. I understand the main focus right now is on those of us who serving life sentences, but I like to shine light and open the doors for those of us who brought into the prison system at a young age and given these lengthy sentences that are considered life! In prison or even out there in the community, ask anyone what a life sentence is, I can almost guarantee the response will be 25 years! In prison we consider anything over 25 years a life sentence, and my life has been taken away from me and my loved ones. Those in which I've physically injured because of my actions, have to live with the events that took place that awful night, but I thank God that they do get live, leading normal lives. Unfortunately for me, I have to not only live with the realization of my actions that night, but also the realization of the life I may not be able to live.
Thank you so much for your time, I greatly appreciate you reading this extension of my life and interest in the situation of many of us young men...
GOD BLESS, JOSE M. BONILLA "