Rose Ann Parker is the only person with an indeterminate life sentence who has actually been released under Governor Davis’ administration. The Fire Inside talked with Rose about her parole process and what she’s been doing since she was released in December 2001.
Can you say why you were in prison and how long you were there?
RP : I was in prison for stopping my abuser from killing me. I stopped my abuser and I received a 27 to life sentence for that. I was pregnant at the time and I also had a child who was 19 months old at the time when my abuser came to the house saying he was going to kill me after I had left him.
Amazing that you received 27 to life for this. So when did you first go up for parole?
RP : ’96 after I had been in about eleven years.
What was it like going for parole that first time?
RP : I expected to go home. They had all the information incorrect. They were very condescending and insulting. I challenged their decision because they denied me for three years, told me to come back in three years.
And what were their reasons, what did they say?
RP : Unsuitable. But I challenged it and I won a whole new parole hearing. The appeal board said the mistakes [of the Parole Board] were of sufficient weight to warrant a new hearing. It took them two and a half years to admit it. In the meantime I had won my appeal on my sentence. I was sentenced to 27 to life and it went down to 17 years to life. The opinion from the Appeal Board said that they had brought in circumstances that were incorrect which is something they do all the time.
What was your record like inside?
RP : Exemplary, I was the Advisory Council chair person, Chaplain’s clerk, special projects clerk, on job training clerk for the staff, handling pregnant inmates, all of it.
When you won the appeal to the Parole Board what happened?
RP : I went back for a rehearing and they said “Everyone wants you to go home and that speaks volumes so we’re going to give you a year denial and we could give you five” (laughs). I wrote them, I wrote the governor, I told everyone and their mama on them and they got in trouble. So when I went to the next Board hearing, they got rid of me. Everybody said they let me go cause they didn’t want to deal with me no more.
So it was your third hearing that they actually let you go? What year was that?
RP : It was March of 2000. You know how they read their statement of facts, each time the whole thing. Well I interrupted them, each time they said something wrong, I interrupted them and said “excuse me but that’s not right”. I brought the trial transcript and showed them and they didn’t know what to do with me.
So after the Parole Board decision, it went to the governor. Given Davis’ reputation, were you nervous?
RP : Nope. Everybody that knew me knew that I was going home. I was mad cause then he made me wait two more months. He signed the release in September and told me I could get out in December.
In terms of how other women approach their parole hearings, given that it’s an issue of such intense stress for people, what advice do you have?
RP : Don’t give them [the Parole Board] all the power. Shake them up, make them mad, you’re fighting for your life. Every time I interrupted them, I said “Excuse me, but this is my life we’re dealing with so if you think I’m being a little harsh or not respectful, remember I’m fighting for my life.”
Were you part of Convicted Women Against Abuse (CWAA) at CIW?
RP : I was part of CWAA, LTO Long Termers Organization), I did all that. I was a public relations officer, sergeant at arms. In fact I was a coordinator of victims services for eight years and that was a designated position by the warden. I came to see that so many women in prison who have been abused aren’t even identified. We need to make people aware of all the many forms of abuse. We’re looking for terrorists in all these other countries but a lot of them are in your own house.
So why do you think Davis let you out?
RP : God told him to. He had no choice. I prayed to God to give him the wisdom to do the right thing. Right now he is the governor and we need him to do the right thing.
How has the Parole office been with you since you’ve been out, what were your restrictions?
RP : My restrictions are really horrible, it’s not that I can’t do them but they’re just ridiculous. I’m monitored with an electronic bracelet (shows it on her wrist). I have a 10:30 pm curfew – it used to be 9:00 pm. I have to go and see a POC doctor. I have to check in and I have to test (urine test for drugs).
Why do you think they’re doing this given who you are and what they know about you?
RP : Cause they have to act like they’re really monitoring me, high control.
Are you hopeful that other survivors of domestic violence will be getting out soon?
RP : Of course, that’s like automatic. I have a ministry called SAVING OUR WOMEN, it’s a domestic violence crisis center and outreach and we have a woman’s home. We do Saving Our Families conferences and workshops for abusers. And some of the women who get out might be able to come work with me. They could be counselors or peer educators.
It’s really amazing Rose what you’ve done since you’ve been out. Is there anything else you want to say before we finish?
RP : Tell everybody HI, Rose Parker say WHAT UP.
Contact Rose Parker at SAVING OUR WOMEN OUTREACH MINISTRY, PO Box 1121, Rialto, CA 92377, 909-494-1268; firstname.lastname@example.org. April 13, 2002