Colorado Prison Blues

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Isley has written to Governor Bill Owens, the parole board and every advocacy group he can think of that might be compelled to fight for Eric. "The moral injustice of it all is beyond imagination," he wrote to Owens.

He has forced Eric to start thinking about leaving prison, about making plans, about "out there." Isley, who owns a food-service business in Southern California, has even offered to give Eric a job when he is released. "Before I met him, after my aunt passed away, I almost didn't want to get out," Eric says. "It's just hard whole life I've spent in here. It's hard to have goals. I live day to day. To stay mentally sane in here, you have to block out the world out there and not think about it."

Recently, Eric decided he was ready to try again at a minimum-security prison, which would let him have a job and, he thinks, offer better chances of making parole. He requested a transfer to the minimum-security Camp George West in Golden. Instead, he was transferred to Sterling Correctional Facility, a Level 5, meaning the highest-security-level prison. "They say it's a progress move," he says. "I don't understand how it's a progress move." Of even more concern is that he recognizes some of the same guards at Sterling who worked at High Plains, just thirty miles up the road.

DOC spokeswoman Patti Micciche says that transferring Reynolds to Camp George West is not in the public's best interest: "His placement on the east side/minimum yard at Sterling is an appropriate placement for him due to his risk of flight and assaultive past."

As he talks about his August 15 parole hearing, Eric fights back tears. He says he knew another inmate just months away from getting out who chose to stab a guy so he wouldn't have to leave. He doesn't want to end up like that, but he fears that if he spends too many more years inside, he won't want to go.

He's grateful that Isley has offered to give him work. "He'd be able to give me guidance, help me to get on my feet, help me to do things that I don't know how to do," Eric says. "But if the parole board keeps turning me down...he's 67 years old. How much longer is he going to be around?"

Eric wishes he had never hurt Jennifer Brennan. He knows it was wrong. He knows he deserved to go to prison. "But, I mean, when's enough time?" he asks.

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Jessica Centers