The vote was unanimous. On August 21, the California Board of Parole Hearings voted to recommend that James “Sneaky” White’s sentence be commuted. White has served 37 years of a life sentence.
If White’s name is familiar to you, it’s likely because the NVF has been advocating for him for years. Shad Meshad met White in 1983 when Shad visited San Quentin Prison as part of the Veterans in Prison project (VIP). White went on to establish a VIP group of veteran inmates at Ironwood Prison in the early 90s. He started an education program where inmates could earn college credit. He also raised over $350,000 for veterans charities and community groups.
Over the years, the NVF has blogged about him on our website, www.nvf.org, and also on the Huffington Post. We’ve featured him in our newsletter multiple times and written letters to the Governor on his behalf. We’ve employed several vets who met White when they were incarcerated. They know firsthand how White has turned lives around.
And now, finally, the news we waited so long for. There are still steps to be taken before full commutation, but the unanimous vote sends a very strong message to the California Supreme Court and then on to the Governor.
Testifying at the hearing along with Shad Meshad were several inmates whose lives White changed, and a group of veterans who flew with White in Vietnam. White is a decorated combat Vietnam veteran who served in the United States Marine Corps and the U.S. Army. He earned his nickname “Sneaky” as a crackerjack chopper pilot in Vietnam. A total of 12 people, some from as far away as the East Coast, spoke on White’s behalf.
One of the Parole Board Members said the statements of former inmates were outstanding. Meshad told the Board the NVF is holding a job for him. He’ll be working with the same population he’s done so much for. We’re all feeling very optimistic.