Restorative Justice (4:28) Adilson "TRU" Neves

2/7/20

Adilson TRU Neves: My name is Adilson TRU Neves. I am 29 years old and been in prison since age 17, for the 2008 death of Mr. Edward Conley. I humbly extend my deepest condolences to his family, friends and community. 

Restorative justice—restorative justice is defined as a way to do justice, to actively include the people impacted by the crime: victims, offenders, their family and communities. Whereas the criminal justice system views an offense as a crime against the state itself. 

Howard Zehr, a pioneer of restorative justice stated in a July 20th, 2015 article by Randi B. Hagi that the criminal justice system was ineffectively using punishment under the guise of accountability. When considering the felony murder rule and its application to a teenage offender, I am a live example of an ineffective use of punishment. 

Recent scientific development says a teenager's brain is not fully developed until age 25. A teenager is more likely to act on impulsivity and rationale and is less likely to consider the consequences and or collateral damages as a result.

However, this does not negate the need for accountability. A felony murder—a felony murder is any loss of life during a felony, such as a robbery. If a teenager killed someone during an intended robbery, the felony murder rule is then applied as it would be to an adult. Even if there's overwhelming evidence to support the actual cause of death was accidental.

A guilty finding mandates an automatic natural life sentence in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In my opinion, the recent scientific development affirms the application of the felony murder rule to a teenage offender as an injustice and points to a neat area of due process reform in the age of mass incarceration. 

Restorative justice asserts that true justice is not in the transfer of harm from the victim to the offender, through systemic retribution, but rather addressing the harms and needs of everyone involved. They're heard to find accountability as understanding the harm you've caused and doing something to make it right. 

In 2015, I became a human rights activist. And since I've been an advocate on behalf of restorative justice. Working, particularly, with young men in the age range of 18 to 30. Developing circle processes aimed at identifying childhood trauma and its contribution to our crime, facilitating [inaudible] gang renunciation and organizing to reduce the perpetuation of violence and motivations for criminal activity.

In 2016, The Young Men's Evolution was featured in a CNN sponsored documentary titled American Jail, by Oscar award-winning film director, Roger Ross Williams airing in 2018. Restorative practices include community stakeholders from all fields and victims and survivors of both nonviolent and violent crimes.

In 2017, I became a published songwriter, creating music to uplift and inspire the masses. "Pain, I'm Happy" is a song of healing. It was code written and performed by Kira Etienne. 

(A promotional sample of the song “Pain, I'm Happy” plays.)

Kira Etienne: "Pain, I'm Happy" is available on all music streaming platforms and is dedicated to all the survivors. 

Adilson TRU Neves: If accountability is demonstrated in genuine stride, is there a need to allocate taxpayers' money to what is now an ineffective use of punishment? My name is Adilson TRU Neves, thank you for your time.

(Sound of a cell door closing.) These commentaries are recorded by Noelle Hanrahan of Prison Radio.