Prison Radio
William A. Noguera

Hello, and welcome to Prison Radio commentaries. I am William A. Noguera, and this piece is entitled “Equal Protection: Fact or Fiction.”

In this country, everyone is supposed to be treated equally and fairly. However, if you haven’t been living under a rock, you know that equality in this country is fictional, especially if you’re a person of color or live under the umbrella of poverty. In simpler terms, if you’re poor.

Laws are passed, at first glance, really seem to make a difference, but upon closer inspection, exclude the less fortunate, the underprivileged, those who are politically less attractive. Most turn a blind eye to this. Why? Well, it’s pretty simple.

The excluded are usually easily forgotten. They’re placed in categories that leave an aftertaste. Meanwhile, everyone is busy slapping each other on the backs, congratulating everyone on a job well done. Here’s a question I’d like to stop all the high-fiving with: What about the forgotten?

I’m sure they’ll look at me as if I materialized out of thin air, so I’ll be specific. Why are teenagers still being sentenced to life without the possibility of parole and death? When laws have been passed, specifically, SB 260, SB 261, and AB 1308, that clearly define 18 to 25 year olds as youth offenders whose brains are not fully developed and therefore deserve a second chance after 25 years in prison if they have been rehabilitated.

When they continue to stare at me as if I sprouted wings and flew around the room, I tell them to sentence an 18 year old with no prior felony convictions to death is as absurd as sentencing a 10 year old to the same sentence as if he were an adult. There was clearly a huge difference in brain development between an 18 year old and a 25 year old, and laws must be passed to protect teams from becoming the forgotten.

Please contact lawmakers and ask about the pink elephant in the room. Why are 18 year olds still being sentenced LWOP and death? My name is William A. Noguera, and I was once that 18 year old who was forgotten.

These commentaries are recorded by Prison Radio.