January 19, 2024
by Katherine Olivier
It has been nearly 40 years since Joe was arrested. His once-dark hair is now silver-gray. His eyes betray the weight of the years.
Joe’s Health Situation
In 2020, his wife, family, and friends received the alarming news that he was hospitalized for heart failure. The prognosis was dire. He had arrhythmia, atrial fibrillation, and tachycardia. His ejection fraction was rated at 19. The doctors were at a loss to determine a cause. But it seemed clear that Joe was likely to die of a broken heart.
For the nearly two years thereafter Joe’s heart continued at an average rate of 125 beats per minute. It seemed it would fail at any time. Finally, those who loved him got a break. Joe was referred to an electro-cardiologist named Dr. Waspe of Modesto, California who decided to try a procedure called cardioversion. This called for 220 volts to be run through Joe’s chest. It would stop Joe’s heart, but there was a chance it would reboot it and cause it to go back to normal rate and rhythm.
Joe’s heart is currently in a normal sinus rhythm. However, his ejection fraction is still low, albeit at 35%, which is significantly improved from where it was previously.
If this were not enough Joe has also been diagnosed with a rare and particularly dangerous form of Leukemia (CMML). Again the doctors are baffled as to why Joe came down with this as it is usually only found in people exposed to highly toxic chemicals. Joe was told that for him, essentially, no treatment was possible.
The one silver lining is that CMML can sometimes take many years to reach its critical stage. For now, Joe’s platelet count is acceptable.
On the Legal Front
On the legal front, we are all hoping that the California Supreme Court rules that the exclusion of Life-Without prisoners from the Youthful Offender Parole Bill of 2016 violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution. The matter is presently under review in the case of People v. Hardin.
We are also watching whether Senate Bill 94 will clear the State Legislature in 2024. This Bill calls for resentencing of Life Without prisoners whose offenses occurred before June 6, 1990 — but only if they have an exemplary prison record. Joe’s is exceptionally good.
Joe serves within the prison as Chairman of the Student Council and as a clerk in the recreation department. He often receives laudatory write-ups from staff.
He is visited frequently by his wife and family, and by his friends at the Ananda Church of Self-Realization. (See link here.)
For Joe and his family, parole would mean an opportunity for him to live his remaining years together with them in freedom. Joe’s only ambition is to spend time with his family and his church group. He finds delight in the thought of walking trails near rivers or the ocean. After decades surrounded by cement and steel, he naturally longs for open vistas.