April 7, 2004
Recommendations for Veronza's Mandatory Release twice denied at the last minute by the U.S. Parole Commission. Why?
After going through all of the legal channels to secure his release, including two law suits against the U.S. Parole Commission, Veronza's only hope for freedom rested on his right to Mandatory Release under federal law. April 7, 2004 had been set many years ago as the date for his release from prison. With all administrative processes and paperwork completed, the warden at Coleman shook Veronza's hand and wished him well. A new room at his sister's home in Maryland was approved by the local parole authorities and Veronza was all set to begin his new life outside of prison walls. His daughter, three sisters, friends and supporters, at great personal expense, flew from all over the country to welcome him into their loving arms as he emerged through the gates of the federal penitentiary.
But this was not to be.
Less than 18 hours before his eagerly anticipated release, prison authorities at the Coleman Correctional Center received a telephone call from the National Parole Commission in Washington, D.C. informing them that the waiver of a final parole hearing, which they previously granted, had been rescinded and that Veronza would not be released as promised. Everyone, including the Warden at Coleman, Veronza's Case Manager and Counselor at the prison, were shocked by this sudden and unanticipated turn of events. All efforts by authorities at Coleman to intervene on Veronza's behalf were shot down by the USPC. Soon after giving away all his possessions in emotional farewells to friends, Veronza was granted a brief visit with his family then locked back up in his cell.
Be sure to read Veronza's own words on the events leading up to April 7th
On February 17, 2005, a repeat performance of the Commission's high-handed quest to keep Veronza behind bars at any cost occurred again. At 4:45 PM, the day prior to his scheduled release, Veronza's case manager received a phone call from the US Parole Commission simply asking, "How long can you delay his release and keep him in?" Veronza's Mandatory Parole was set to occur the next morning at 8:30 AM. Soon thereafter, a FAXed Notice of Action was received at the prison indicating that his parole was rescinded pending a Reconsideration Hearing to take into account "new information" submitted by the Fraternal Order of Police, the largest police labor union in the country. Once again, this time just 15 minutes before the end of the last day prior to his scheduled release, the Commission had reversed itself and pulled the plug.
According to prison authorities at Coleman, there is no precedent for this type of action on the part of the Commission. Some of the staff were visibly upset by this latest sudden and unexpected turn of events, expressing support for Veronza and hope for his eventual release. The good news is that Veronza's very supportive family and close friends had a chance to meet each other face-to-face (many for the first time) and renew their commitment to fight the injustice that is being perpetrated. The warden at Coleman graciously allowed all of us who had gathered at the prison to visit with Veronza for an extended period of time. Unbelievably, it was Veronza who provided solace to all. His strength and equanimity is eclipsed only by his faith and determination that justice will eventually prevail. Clearly it is not Veronza but the US Parole Commission and the Fraternal Order of Police who are a threat to law and order and the rule of law in this country.
Compare these actions with the
Mission Statement of the US Parole Commission
If the purpose of incarceration is the rehabilitation of an individual's social and moral fiber, the Bureau of Prisons appears to have been most successful in this instance. Mr. Bowers behavior and moral bearing while in prison show, not only an exemplary adaptation to institutional rules, but a depth of compassion as well as a unique ability to help others less fortunate than himself. I respectfully request that you support his plea for mandatory parole at this time in keeping with the Commission own Mission Statement from which I quote:
“ The mission of the United States Parole Commission is to promote publicsafety and strive for justice and fairness in the exercise of its authority torelease and supervise offenders under its jurisdiction. The Commission achievesthese goals through a conscientious application of its guidelines to each case,tempered by a willingness to give due regard to individual circumstances. Itsguiding principle is to apply the least restrictive sanction that is consistentwith public safety and the appropriate punishment of the offense.”
The nightmare did not end here. Since April 7, 2004 Veronza was forced to go through yet another hearing at which his petition for Mandatory Parole was again recommended and subsequently overturned by the U.S. Parole Commission. A "final" vote by the full Commission failed to overturn his recommendation for parole and new release date of August 21. 2005. In spite of this, Veronza still remains in prison in direct violation of the law and Commission's own rules and regulations. Click here for a comprehensive summary of these events,