By conservative estimates, there are currently enough wrongfully convicted people in prison in the United States to fill a football stadium.
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Bo Lozoff is the director of the Prison-Ashram Project. He lives in Durham, North Carolina.
Nice to hear from you. You know, you said that you were a coward and a real piece of shit, but if that’s so, then who was the sensitive, intelligent human being who was moved to tears by the story of Gandhi’s courage? That takes a lot of courage and openness, too, you know.
You know that I’ve been involved for a long time now with people who have gone through the same sort of nightmare as you. I’ve never met anyone who had an easy time of it, or who looked back and said, “Boy, I’m glad that happened,” so I’m not going to bullshit you with spiritual fairy tales. But I do know, and have seen, people endure with their sanity and humanity intact — and stronger — after such a horrifying leap into Hell.
Creeping steadily toward my forties, I find myself in a peculiar position. On one hand, I’m part and parcel of the “New Age”: I’m chairman of the Hanuman Foundation, director of the Prison-Ashram Project, have studied with a lot of swamis, teachers, and masters, have taught meditation and yoga for a decade, performed many years of disciplines and diets, lived in ashrams, communes, forests and school buses, gone crazy and gone sane, worn long hair, short hair, no hair . . . get the picture? I certainly sound like a “New Age” person to me! And this isn’t the part where I amuse you with my re-entry into society as a successful stockbroker; no, I’m still out here in the bush, threading my way through the mysteries. If anything, I appreciate more than ever the richness of the mystical, the indescribable. It’s at the center of everything I do.
Every thought, word, and deed in our lives is a seed which we plant in the world. All our lives, we harvest the fruits of those seeds. If the seeds are full of anger, fear, greed, desire, and doubt, then so will our lives be. If the seeds contain love, kindness and understanding, then our lives will as well.
I’m presently in the Idaho State prison for first degree murder, two counts. I was arrested in November of 1974, taken to trial, found guilty and sentenced to death, March of 1976. In October of 1977, the Idaho Supreme Court vacated my death penalty, but I’m under review to receive a newly enacted death penalty in May of this year. At that time the courts will decide if I can be given the new death penalty or a double life sentence. These two charges in Idaho aren’t the only ones I have. There are seven more in other states. Please let me explain why I did these cold-blooded, without any mercy, killings. In April of 1974, 11 men entered my home in Portland, Oregon, raped my 17 year old wife, who was three months pregnant at the time, then threw her four stories out our apartment window.
It’s a pleasure to offer these excerpts from Inside Out, the journal of the Hanuman Foundation’s prison-ashram project.