FAMILIES UNITED TO END LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE
In February of 2017, loved ones from five different families came together in the living room of the wife of a man serving life without the possibility of parole (LWOP). The group’s purpose was to discuss a strategy to end an extreme sentence that no one was talking about. That sentence was LWOP, or as it is appropriately referred to: The Other Death Penalty. The gathering was hosted by Fair Chance Project, a grassroots organization formed in 2009 by recently incarcerated lifers who made it their mission to reach back into the many thousands who remained inside. The men had the goal of demanding changes in California’s extreme sentencing laws, and ending both forms of the death penalty. The meeting was attended by children, a mother, wives and the sisters of men who years prior had been sentenced to die in prison; yet had changed and rehabilitated themselves. This was the unofficial beginning of an organization dedicated to ending the inhumane sentence of LWOP.
The small group made a concerted effort to grow their numbers through social media and word of mouth, both inside prison and in the community. In just a few months, the core group expanded their numbers and took on a name that reflected their purpose. They became known as Families United to End LWOP – FUEL.
Through broad outreach within the criminal justice community, and inside the prisons, within a short period, the group became a source of hope for both women and men serving the “other death penalty”, and an organizing tool for their loved ones in the communities. FUEL partnered with other organizations and joined coalitions which were also engaged in the movement to end LWOP, most significantly, the Drop LWOP coalition.
As the group organized in the community, men and women inside began to form Inside FUEL chapters within their facilities, which helped to generate pro-social activity and inspire hope while developing ideas toward ending LWOP. We believe that no one should be defined by their worst decision in life. These motivated men and women raised money for FUEL, as well as funds for charities dedicated to crime survivors. In addition to money, they have donated beautiful handicraft and high valued art that they created. Inside FUEL have also invited coalition members into prisons to create a sense of unity while vigorously organizing.
FUEL members have launched petitions telling their loved one’s story and appealing to the Governor for clemency. The group also launched a petition on behalf of all serving LWOP and delivered it to Governor Brown in November of 2018 during their Seeking Redemption Rally. Material from men and women in prisons throughout the state were part of the packet given to the Governor. Constantly seeking ways to share the humanity of people serving the “other death penalty” has been the motivation to create individual brochures for the men and women. These have given those serving LWOP and their family members a way to tell their story.
FUEL holds rallies in Sacramento and has directed caravans around prison facilities experiencing high incidents of needless covid deaths. The group has participated in numerous panels, led seminars, co-sponsored Town Halls and held workshops on commutations in the communities and within the prison facilities. We are proud to be co-sponsors, with other powerful groups in the state, of SB 300 a piece of legislation challenging the LWOP sentence.
Among our happiest moments was welcoming the husbands of two of our core members home from serving the unforgiving sentence of LWOP. We fight for that to repeat itself until everyone serving the other death penalty is given the opportunity to come hope. The fight continues!!
To End all forms of the death penalty - death by incarceration as well as death by injection. Further, Families United to End Life Without Parole supports incarcerated persons with LWOP sentences and their family to gain skills and knowledge to advocate to end LWOP sentences.
What We Do
FUEL participates in a wide variety of actions that include rallies, caravans, meetings, picnic, webinars, LWOP strategy workshops, and additional activities and events that increase awareness and advocacy to end LWOP. Check out our calendar to be a part of future events!