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The United States is the only country in the world that sentences thirteen- and fourteen-year old offenders, mostly youth of color, to life in prison without parole, regardless of the scientifically proven singularities of the developing adolescent brain. In 1991, Ian Manuel, then fourteen, was sentenced to life without parole for a non-homicide crime. Today, thirty years later, he is neither in prison nor dead. His story has been told many times by highly regarded experts in their field–judges, prosecutors, juvenile probation officers, sociologists, journalists. But he joins us now to share his own story.
Contained in his book My Time Will Come: A Memoir of Crime, Punishment, Hope, and Redemption, Manuel offers powerful testimony of his life. From growing up homeless in Central Park Village in Tampa, a neighborhood riddled with poverty, gang violence, and drug abuse, to his efforts to rise above his own circumstances, he tells how he found himself imprisoned for two thirds of his life, eighteen years of which were spent in solitary confinement. The at once wrenching and inspiring story covers how he endured the savagery of the United States prison system, and how his victim, the young white mother of two whom he shot, forgave him and advocated for his freedom. Led by renowned lawyer Bryan Stevenson and the Equal Justice Initiative, a crusade to address the cruelty of our judicial system led to Manuel’s freedom. Capturing the fullness of his humanity, don’t miss this presentation where Manuel offers affecting praise to the capacity of the human will to transcend adversity through determination and art, most especially his own dedication to writing poetry.
Ian Manuel lives in New York City. He is a poet and motivational speaker at schools and social organizations nationwide.
Presented by Town Hall Seattle.