|Veronza Bowers, Jr.
How You Can Help
A group of family, friend and supporters are trying to raise money to pay the legal bills necessary to get Veronza the justice he deserves. Toward that end we have established the Veronza Bowers, Jr. Legal Defense Fund.
Letter from Veronza Bowers, Jr.
(November 16, 2016)
"Dear Friends and Supporters
"I send each of you my very warmest greetings. As you all know, I am now in my 43rd year of captivity--12 of which have been in violation of the Statute which governs my Mandatory Parole release date of April 7, 2004. Be that as it is, my Freedom Team is still fighting the good fight.
"In the past, my dear friend and mentor, Mr. Maynard Garfield, was the one who, whenever needed, wrote to you asking for financial contributions for my Legal Defense Fund to help with the expenses of my attorneys, especially when they had to travel here to argue my case in the courts. It pains me deeply to have to report to you that Garf, because of his age (87 now) and failing health, had to give up his role as administrator of my Defense Fund and related matters. But true to form, he made all the necessary arrangements to turn everything over to my youngest sister, Rhonda Jones. To ensure that everyone would be comfortable with that arrangement, a Committee was formed composed of Rhonda, a Certified Public Accountant in Arizona along with members of my legal team who jointly supervise the Defense Fund.
"As recent as this past June, the District Court judge high handedly dismissed my petition. On November 8th, we filed our Opening Brief in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. This will be our third trip to the Appellate Court. Of course it is my hope, and that of my Freedom Team, that the 3rd time will be the charm for us---and three strikes you're out for the Parole Commission. In our Opening Brief, we requested that Oral Arguments be held. Because of the tortured and complex history of my case, there is a high probability that our request will be so ordered, in which case members of my Freedom Team will have to fly here from California and Washington, D.C. So, as you can see we are moving forward [AGAIN !], and I am asking you to [again] help us raise the necessary funds for the lawyers to get to Atlanta to make this final (hopefully) push for me to take my long over-due, long walk to freedom.
"As always, any contribution is deeply appreciated. Please include your address and Rhonda will send you a receipt. And please know that all funds are held on deposit in a secure account at Wells Fargo Bank. Going forward I will make sure that each of you receive updates in a timely manner. In closing, I want to THANK you for your unconditional love, unwavering support and generous contributions over these long years. Because of YOU, The Future Holds Great Promise.
"Much Love…..Veronza "
A Note from Rhonda Jones, the Defense Fund Administrator
Hello, my name is Rhonda Woodruff Jones. I am Veronza’s yougest Sister. I currently live in Phoenix, Arizona. I was a small child age 5 when Veronza was incarcerated. So I have only known my brother through penitentiary visits with my Mother Dorothy Woodruff and my oldest sister Cynthia Morris. Our mother Dorothy passed away in 2003. And Cynthia and her family still reside in Omaha, Nebraska. I love my brother Veronza dearly and pray we are successful in getting him released. Upon his release, Veronza will live with me and my family here in Phoenix, Arizona. I met my husband Brian on a blind date in Omaha, Nebraska back in 1994, we married in 1996 and have celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary this year. We have two boys ages 12 and 14.
My brother Veronza has asked that I help in administering the Defense Fund on his behalf, as dear friend Maynard Garfield has fallen ill. I am a Certified Public Accountant, licensed in the state of Arizona. I take my new role with Veronza’s fund very seriously and will make sure all funds are accounted for spent on Veronza’s legal expenses. I thank you in advance for supporting my brother and any donation is greatly appreciated.
If you have any questions, please contact me. My social media accounts are under “Rhonda Woodruff Jones” on Facebook and “@RhondaWJones on Twitter or you can send me an email at email@example.com. Donation Instructions: All of funds are held in a separate secure account at Wells Fargo Bank.
If you would like to donate, you can do so two ways:
1. Paypal Use the following email address to send donations: firstname.lastname@example.org. Funds will be transferred directly to Veronza’s Wells Fargo Account
2. Donation via Check by Mail Please write checks to Veronza Bowers Jr Legal Defense Fund and mail to:
Rhonda W. Jones
c/o Veronza Bowers Jr Legal Defense Fund
1304 E. Briarwood Terrace
Phoenix, AZ 85048
I will deposit all checks to Veronza’s Wells Fargo Account Rhonda will send receipts to all donors. Thank you for your support and I will continue to send updates to you from Veronza.
Rhonda Woodruff Jones
An Appeal from Maynard Garfield on behalf of Veronza Bowers, Jr.
My friend Veronza Bowers Jr. is 70 years old. He has been in prison for over 43 years. He is being denied his rightful parole.
After several years of corresponding with him and visiting him in Coleman Federal Penitentiary, I can honestly say that he is a mature, intelligent, thoughtful, compassionate human being. I consider it a privilege and a pleasure to call him my friend.
When Veronza Bowers was 23 he was - like many his age - an impressionable young man. The late 1960's were a time of turmoil. College campuses across the country witnessed huge demonstrations. Many groups formed on and off campuses to raise awareness of the conditions suffered by minorities and the poor. Veronza Bowers listened to the protestors. One convinced him that becoming a member of the Black Panther Party would enable him to fix some of the many social ills in this country. He joined and he participated.
The Federal Government's reaction to the Black Panther movement across the country was swift and decisive. Its aim was to destabilize, then destroy, the Black Panthers. As a result, many members were arrested and jailed. Veronza Bowers was one of them. On purely circumstantial evidence, he was indicted, tried and convicted of killing a Park Ranger. His sentence: life.
Then - and now - Veronza swears he is innocent of the charges.
Over the years there have been a number of parole hearings. Veronza Bowers is still in prison.
I have pleaded with him. Just tell them: "I was young and did wrong. But I have found my way. I am a born-again Christian. I have found salvation." Veronza Bowers is still in prison. "Don't you understand," he replied to me with determination. "I have been here for 43 years. If the only way I can get out is to lie and say I am guilty, then my whole life is a sham. I will rot here in prison before I will do that." And rot he may if we don't try to help him.
Does he have supporters? Plenty. For a hearing in 1993, one Congressman wrote to the parole board: "As much as we need to punish criminal behavior, especially violent crime, it seems equally true that at some point we should reward those who have changed their lives in prison. There appears to be no dispute that Mr. Bowers has become a model for what we hope other prisoners could achieve. He has served a lengthy term, 12 years beyond his mandatory parole eligibility.
Once again the parole board turned down Veronza Bower's petition. This time, however, the reason was different. Veronza Bowers would never be eligible for parole, the board said. The reason: a law passed in the 1990's stating that anyone convicted of killing a law enforcement officer would never be eligible for parole. Is this possible? Yes, Veronza Bowers is still in jail. Is it legal? No, say some lawyers we have consulted. The 1990's law cannot be retroactively applied to a conviction that predated the law. Fight the decision of the parole board, the lawyers advise, and seek to set Veronza Bowers free.
Any contributions would be greatly appreciated and applied directly toward Veronza's legal defense. No sum is too small.
I have never done anything like this, but then, I have never been so personally touched by anything like this.