Letter to LeBron James

Dear Mr. James,

My name is Jason Goudlock. I’m a 39-year-old African-American prisoner who recently made international headlines when I mentioned in a letter to the Ohio Parole Board that I hoped to be released in time to witness in person your pursuit of an NBA title for my hometown team. I write today to say I’m sending you a copy of my just-published novel, Brother of the Struggle, which has been called “a powerful story of improbable hope being born in prison.”

The letter in which I made a light-hearted comment about wanting to see you lead the Cavs to a title also told how I was sentenced in 1994 to six to 25 years as a first offender for armed robbery and felonious assault. This kind of unjust sentence, which has kept me in prison for more than twenty years while convicted killers have been freed after serving less time, is no longer used in Ohio.

It was my intention, if granted a parole, to promote Brother of the Struggle, by embarking on a speaking tour at group homes and juvenile centers throughout the greater Cleveland area. Having been placed in various group homes while growing up in Cleveland, I wanted to use the promotion of my book to share my cautionary story with at-risk youth as a way of trying to prevent them from becoming the next occupants of a prison cell or, worse, a graveyard.

My September letter to the Ohio Parole Board also called attention to injustices in Ohio’s criminal justice system, and I was issued an unbelievable sentence continuance of 60 months, thus derailing my post-release plan to speak to at-risk youth. So I send you a copy of Brother of the Struggle, based partly on my decades as a prisoner, in the hope that you can somehow use this “powerful, intimate account of one young man’s efforts to break the chain-like bonds of mass incarceration” as an instrument to save at-risk youth.

In conclusion, I want to thank you for your time and for returning to the Cavs!

Sincerely,

Jason Goudlock

p.s. If you ever want to read an excellent book about terrible Ohio injustice, I recommend Lucasville: The Untold Story of a Prison Uprising, by Staughton Lynd, who used to teach Alice Walker’s The Color Purple at Temple University. Keith Lamar’s Condemned: The Whole Story is another excellent book about Ohio injustice.


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