Written by Hoss Dossett and Haley Fahrner
Euka Wadlington is a prisoner at the Greenville Federal Correctional Institution.He is serving a life sentence for his alleged involvement in a cocaine ring. The crimes of which he was convicted were nonviolent, and the evidence seems to have been basically nonexistent. He was convicted based on the testimonies of other drug dealers in the area—drug dealers who were working with the government in order to avoid being incarcerated. Several have since admitted that they not only lied about Euka’s key role in the drug ring, but that they were lying about his involvement as well—he was not a part of the operation at all. Not only was he wrongfully convicted, but it is evident by his behavior that he no longer belongs in prison, if he ever did. He is a tutor for GED classes and has helped numerous prisoners earn their GEDs with both his teaching and his encouragement. He has been a friend to the inmates and an inspiration to those outside of the prison who have gotten to know him. Due to the nature of his conviction, parole will never be an option for him. The only choice he has now is to appeal to the President himself.
The following link leads to information about his case, and a petition you can sign so that his sentence can be commuted. This is something that we—including others in the Greenville community and throughout the nation—care deeply about. In addition to our thoughts on the matter, we have words from those who know Euka and can testify to the nature of his character and the flaws in our system of incarceration. What we are asking of you is that you thoughtfully sign the petition that could lead to his sentence being commuted.
When recent Greenville alumnus David Justice, who knows Euka personally, was asked to share his views on this case, he had much to say.
Euka Wadlington (or Twelve, his nickname in the Greenville FCI) is an extraordinary human being. I know Twelve because during my freshman year, Kent Dunnington announced to my girlfriend’s class that he was starting a prison ministry, and to impress her I signed up. The first person I met in the prison was this man Euka, who I later learned was serving a double life sentence on federal drug charges. At our first meeting, Euka was extremely welcoming and encouraging, and throughout the four or so years that I have known him, I have come to consider him a friend. Recently, it was brought to my attention that there is a woman named Kristin, who believes that Euka was wrongfully convicted, and has since then started a petition to convince the president to pardon Euka. Having read the materials put together by Kristin, I am convinced that Euka was wrongfully convicted and is innocent of the crimes that he is currently incarcerated for. These materials are available online, and I believe they will convince you that it is a violation of justice for Euka to remain in prison for the rest of his [one_fourth] [/one_fourth] life. However, I don’t think that these materials constitute the main reason that Euka’s sentence should be commuted. Even if Euka is guilty of the crimes that he has been accused of, I believe he has clearly demonstrated the fact that he is ready to be a positive influence on his children, friends, family and society in general, a position that my friend Kent [Dunnington] much more articulately stated in his letter to President Obama. This constitutes a reason to free Euka because, despite the many problems inherent in the U.S. prison system, prisons claim to be in the business of rehabilitating criminals. Once this rehabilitation has occurred, the prisoner is ready to be set free and live among their peers. Euka has clearly demonstrated the fact that he has been “rehabilitated” (if any rehabilitation even needed to take place). He is beloved by the prison staff, and spends his days helping other inmates to learn and grow through the various classes and clubs that he heads up. Numerous inmates have obtained their GEDs because of Euka, and many more have been positively impacted through his example of leading a Christian life despite very difficult circumstances. So, I believe that we as Christians should take the time to care for Euka, our Christian brother, by signing the petition asking for his release, and spreading the knowledge that Euka, and many others like him, are unjustly incarcerated in our nation.
Dr. Kent Dunnington, a philosophy professor on campus and the leader of the prison ministry, has also shared his thoughts on the matter in a personal letter to the President, asking that Euka’s sentence be commuted. He offers several genuine and compelling reasons as to why this man should not be in prison. The following are excerpts from his letter to President Obama.
…Over the past four years, no inmate has impressed and moved me as much as Euka. My first exposure to Euka was in a GED class that he taught. I sat in the class as an available tutor, but Euka was the lead tutor and teacher. He is exceptionally good at his job. Perhaps the best way to provide a picture of Euka is to observe how he differs from the other tutors. There are a number of fine inmate tutors in the FCI, but Euka is the only one I have seen who, consistently, for the past four years, has never once condescended to another inmate. Consider the kind of personal integrity and character that this indicates in a prison setting, where status is literally all that one has to assert one’s significance. Understandably, most of the tutors cannot resist the opportunity to emphasize and exaggerate the clout they have as classroom teachers and tutors. Not Euka. Euka moves around the classroom energetically, encouraging his peers, instructing them, mediating between them, making them laugh—treating them each as significant equals. To be honest, watching Euka’s classroom demeanor has caused me to reflect on my own tendencies to disregard or patronize students whom I find difficult or frustrating. I have come to understand why Euka is the most respected and sought-after inmate teacher/tutor in the prison.
…Euka does all of this without “incentive.” He is serving a life sentence with no hope for parole. Euka acts this way because it is who he is. It depresses me to think of it, but I know that if Euka’s sentence is not commuted, he will continue to serve his fellow inmates in this way until he dies.
…In four years, I’ve spent a lot of time with a lot of inmates. I’ve gained the trust of prison administration such that I am left alone each week with a class of inmates for a two-hour stretch. I cannot believe that I will be telling you [President Obama] anything you do not already know when I report that our prisons are full of people who should not be in prison…Of all the inmates I have met over the past four years, there is none whose situation screams out for redress more loudly than Euka Wadlington’s.
…The truth is that even if Euka was justly convicted, he should no longer be in prison. As I understand it, the federal bureau of prisons operates with a rehabilitative penal philosophy. I have sought in vain to find this philosophy clearly articulated, but I have to assume it based on what prison officials tell inmates. Inmates are told that they must pursue their GED, that they should do vocational training, that they should earn certificates in drug rehabilitation, that they should engage in as much “programming” as possible—all in order that they may demonstrate their readiness to be productive members of free society. The message communicated to inmates is clear: you are here to be rehabilitated.
…Mr. President, if imprisonment is justified by the need for rehabilitation, then it is no longer morally justified to imprison Euka Wadlington. Euka has a family who needs him and he has a desperately needed vision for working with at-risk youth. I hope I have given you an indication of why I am so confident that Euka will contribute in powerful ways to the healing of our broken society.
His full letter can be found Here
If you are still unconvinced, a thought-provoking point from Dr. Christina Smerick may sway you: “Sign for this reason alone: CHARLES MANSON gets to go before parole boards. Euka never will. Think about that, then please sign and pass along. Our system is broken.”
We sincerely believe that an injustice has been done to this man. We also believe that it is our responsibility as members of the body of Christ to attempt to right this wrong, and we have faith that it can be done.
Lastly, a message from Euka:
“I am overwhelmed with all of the exciting news that’s happening. Because of you, our support team and signatures are growing like a quiet storm—beautifully. No words could ever express how grateful I am for your time and efforts. Keep up the good work, spread the news, voice your ideas and opinions, and let’s make what seems impossible, possible. Indeed, you are appreciated and your assistance to this action is so valued and meaningful.
Euka Wadlington Sr.”