AN OPEN LETTER TO GOVERNOR GAVIN NEWSOM

Governor Gavin Newsom

1303 10th Street, Suite 1173

Sacramento, CA 95814

 

RE:  Romaine Fitzgerald (B-27527)

 

Dear Governor Newsom:

 

We are writing in support of Mr. Romaine Fitzgerald’s (B-27527) petition for release. He is now 71 years old and has been incarcerated for over 51 years. He has demonstrated deep remorse for his actions and is no longer the person that he was a half a century ago. In the interest of justice, I entreat you to grant his release.

 

I am fully aware of the serious nature of Romaine’s offenses, committed in 1969 when he was still an adolescent. As a result of important medical advances, the world knows far more today about the functioning of the adolescent brain than it did fifty years ago. Numerous studies have proven that young people between the ages of ten and twenty-six possess immature brains that make them prone to unreasonable risk-taking. Research also shows that the adolescent brain lacks the ability to engage in substantive forethought. These facts are borne out by the disproportionate number of young people who comprise the bulk of the world’s jail and prison populations.

 

It is also important to acknowledge the reality of our nation’s history. The 1960s represent one of the most tumultuous eras of our national development. Most observers would agree that the racial progress that resulted from that decade’s upheavals represent welcome additions to our vibrant democracy. It is unfortunate, indeed lamentable, that some young people who sought to contribute to positive social change engaged in activities that we all agree were both unwise and harmful. While Romaine can be counted among these well-meaning but misguided youths, nothing is gained by keeping him locked in a cage as an elderly man.

 

Scores of other prisoners convicted of the same offense as Romaine during the same period (circa 1969) have since been paroled. There is no logical, justifiable, or legal reason to continue to incarcerate Romaine, an elderly stroke victim who often requires the use of a wheelchair. I implore you to do justice in this case by granting Romaine’s release.

 

Sincerely, 

 

Michelle Alexander

Danny Glover

Melina Abdullah

Professor, Pan-African Studies

California State University Los Angeles

 

Makungu Akinyela

Associate Professor of 

African American Studies

Georgia State University

 

Dr. Faten Alawadhi

Consultant, Energy Economics & Policy

 

Leslie Alexander

Associate Professor of History

University of Oregon

 

Dr. Roberta Alexander 

Former chair of the English Department 

San Diego City College

Vicki Alexander, MD, MPH

Board President

Healthy Black Families, Inc.

 

Curtis Austin

Associate Professor of History

University of Oregon

 

Dan Berger

Associate Professor of Comparative Ethnic Studies

University of Washington Bothell 

Dr. Tenya M. Blackwell

Scot Brown

Professor UCLA

 

Barbara Calhoun 

Compton College Board of Trustees

Clayborne Carson

Martin Luther King, Jr., Centennial Professor of History

Sue S. Chan, M.D.
Asian Health Services

 

Sundiata Cha Jua

Associate Professor of History and 

African American Studies

University of Illinois

 

W. Paul Coates

Publisher, Black Classic Press

 

Dayna L. Cunningham, Esq.

 

Dr. Ron Daniels 

President-Institute of the 

Black World 21st Century

 

James Early 

Institute for Policy Studies Board,

Former Smithsonian Institution Assistant Secretary for Education and Public Service

   

Soffiyah Elijah Esq.

Johanna Fernandez

Professor, History and Black and 

Latino Studies

Baruch College

 

Dr. John Flateau

Brooklyn, NY

 

Prof. Roger Green

Former NYC Assemblyman

George Gresham, President

1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East

Marqueece Harris-Dawson

Los Angeles, City Councilmember

Suzanne Hepner, Esq.

Nancy Hing Wong Attorney at law 

 

Gerry Hudson, Secretary Treasurer,

Service Employees International Union

 

Carmen Huertas-Noble Esq.

 

Pranav Jani

Associate Professor of English 

(Postcolonial & Ethnic Studies)

The Ohio State University

 

Charles Jones

Professor of Africana Studies

University of Cincinnati 

 

Dr. Alethia Jones

Director-Open Society Fellowship Program

 

Eric L. Jones Esq. 

 

Robin Kelley

Professor of History

University of California at Los Angeles

 

Terry A. Kupers M.D., M.P.S. Professor 

The Wright Institute  

 

Jenn Laskin Attorney at law

 

Margaret Littlefield 

Attorney at Law 

 

Sheba Lo

Associate Professor of Africana Studies

California State University, Northridge

 

Ronnie Lott, Founding Director,

The Martin Luther King Jr.

 Research and Education Institute

 

Mel Mason, MSW, LCSW; 

Board of Directors-California Racial and Ethnic Mental Health Disparities Coalition (REMHDCO)

 

Rev. Terrence L. Melvin

President-Coalition of Black Trade Unionists

Senator Bill Monning

California State Senate, Former Majority Leader

 

Commissioner Josina Morita

Metropolitan Water Reclamation

District of Greater Chicago

 

Amrita Chakrabarti Myer

Associate Professor

History and Gender Studies

Indiana University-Bloomington

 

Sanjay Pinto

Research Fellow, Cornell University & Rutgers University

 

Vonya Quarles Attorney at Law

  

Sherie Randolph

Associate Professor of History

Georgia Tech

Gabriela T. Richard, PH.D.

Assistant Professor

Penn State University

Dr. Levi Richard 

Citrus College

Russell Rickford

Associate Professor of History

Cornell University

  

Amilcar Shabazz

Professor of History & Africana Studies

University of Massachusetts Amherst 

 

Dan Siegel Attorney at Law 

 

Michael Simanga

Cultural Worker and Lecturer

Morehouse College

 

David Slutsky Esq

 

Dr. Tolbert Small, MD
 

Robyn Spencer

Associate Professor of History

Lehman College, City University of NY

Karin Stanford

Professor of Africana Studies and 

Political Science

California State University Northridge

 

Gretchen Susi PH. D

 

Quito Swan

Professor of Africana Studies

University of Massachusetts at Boston

 

Richard Tan Attorney at Law

 

Melanie Tervalon, MD, MPH

 

Heather Ann Thompson 

University of Michigan

Pulitzer Prize winning author

 

Professor Walter Turner 

Chairperson-Social Service Department, College of Marine 
 

Tim Tyson, Senior Research Scholar Center for Documentary Studies 

Duke University  

 

Akinyele Umoja

Professor of African American Studies

Georgia State University
 

Anne Weills 

Attorney at Law

  

Michael West 

Professor of African American Studies 

and History

Penn State University

 

Gwynne A. Wilcox, Esq.

 

Jakobi Williams

Ruth N. Halls Associate Professor 

Indiana University-Bloomington

 

Komozi Woodard

Professor of History

Sarah Lawrence College

 

Jason Young 

Associate Professor of History

University of Michigan

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