This is William A. Noguera calling you from San Quentin State Prison, Death Row. This piece is entitled “In The Name of the Father.”
“Mr. Noguera,” said my attorney as he approached the witness chair where my father sat. “If you could ask anything of this jury, what would you ask?” My father turns slightly to his left and look at the twelve seated members of the jury: “Please don’t kill my son,” he said and suddenly burst into tears, his shoulder shaking as he sobbed and emotions ran through his body. “Please don’t kill my son,” he repeated.
I sat stunned, unable to move. Suddenly I too cried, slowly at first, but soon the moment overwhelmed me, and I placed my hands over my face, and I allowed myself to cry freely, “Dad, no, please don’t cry for me,” I whispered into my hands. “This is my fault.”
I don’t remember my father ever crying. To me, he was a man to be admired, respected for his strength, even hated and feared, but pitied? Now before my eyes, my father was reduced to begging twelves strangers to spare his son’s life, and worse. I caused this moment. I reduced my father to this.
Accepting responsibility is no easy task, but if you truly confront your actions, depending on the magnitude of those actions, you will find yourself on a journey that can change the person you thought you were for the person you were meant to be. I don’t know exactly when it happened, but I believe seeing my father beg from my life affected me so deeply that my core changed. I saw myself, my actions, and the consequences of those actions for the first time. And I was ashamed.
Being so young when all of these tragedies occurred in my life allowed me to grow and mature into the person who understands actions and their consequences. It doesn’t happen overnight, in a month, or even after years. It takes decades of self-dissemination and a grasp of accepting responsibility that true rehabilitation can begin. I should know. I’ve been on this journey for 40 years. What now is obvious, that 18 year old I once was could not even imagine. It’s why all teens should have a chance to prove the past will not repeat itself.
I am William A. Noguera, an advocate for equal sentencing laws for all teen. Thank you.
These commentaries are recorded by Prison Radio.