Second Phase of Campaign Begins

Oscar denied parole-US Parole
Examiner ignores parole guidelines

On Wednesday, January 5, after a remarkably biased and tainted parole hearing, U.S. Parole Commission hearing examiner Mark Tanner announced he would recommend that Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar López Rivera be denied parole, and that he either be held in prison until his mandatory release date in 2023 or serve another 15 years before being reconsidered for parole, whichever comes first. Oscar was brought to the hearing handcuffed to a chain around his waist. His attorney Jan Susler’s protestations were overruled, with prison staff asserting the warden had ordered the highly unusual measure. Eight Bureau of Prisons personnel constituted an exaggerated and intentionally intimidating presence. Over the vehement objection of Oscar’s attorney, Tanner entertained live testimony from four people he characterized as “victims” — a wounded survivor and family members of people who died in the 1975 explosion in New York’s Fraunces Tavern — even though Oscar was never accused or convicted of anything related to the explosion. Tanner provided Susler a 7 page letter from Chicago U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, a political diatribe opposing parole, listing acts unrelated to Oscar and unsupported conclusions about his role in the clandestine movement. Susler attempted to bring Tanner’s attention to the matter at hand, reciting the criteria for release on parole and demonstrating how the evidence proved that Oscar meets the criteria:

  1. That in the past 20 years of prison, he has not been accused of a violating a single prison rule;
  2. That his release would not depreciate the seriousness of the offense or promote disrespect for the law; and
  3. That release would not jeopardize the public welfare.

The recommendation denying parole was the goal of the right wing, which in the few days prior to the parole hearing, created an environment of lies and innuendos in the media, reminiscent of the right wing reaction to the 1999 clemency. They barraged the Parole Commission with phone calls opposing parole. However, when Oscar’s supporters called, the Commission stopped answering the phones.

The NBHRN is mounting a campaign to ask the Parole Commission to reject Tanner’s recommendation and to order Oscar’s release on parole. We will be asking people to collect signatures on a new letter to the Commission and mail/fax (301) 492-5307.

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