The CAN-DO Foundation is elated that President Trump has granted clemency to John Bolen so he can be reunited with his wife, June and son John Bolen as well as the entire family including John’s grandmother who is in her 90s. John’s case was one of the most egregious cases CAN-DO has ever advocated for. It underscores how unjust our conspiracy laws are with regard to holding a minor participant responsible for the actions of others who are far more culpable within the conspiracy and receive a plea bargain to testify against the low hanging fruit who proceed to trial, and thus, are subject to what we often refer to as the “trial penalty.” People who exercise their Sixth Amendment right to a trial are subject to harsh mandatory sentencing laws that cooperating individuals can escape from in exchange for testimony against others.
CAN-DO worked with journalist RJ Vogt who chose John’s case as the perfect clemency candidate waiting for mercy from President Trump.
Name: John T. Bolen
Raised: Palm Bay, Florida
Tried: Southern Florida
Will live: Melbourne, Florida
Sentence: Life without parole
Sentenced on: 03/05/2007; denied bond, in since August 2006
Served: 13 years
Priors: First time offender
Release date: Never
Institution: FCC Medium, Coleman Florida; previously FCC Penitentiary II, Coleman, FloridAccomplishments:
- Currently in service to others as a mental health companion and mentor in the BOP’s Skills Program under the guidance of Dr Benitez. Program is to help those with brain injuries and mental health issues with daily living skills and cognitive change
- Worked as a suicide companion with current certification and a Challenge Program mentor.
- Worked in trusted and privileged positions in UNICOR,
- Vocational tech as a tutor
- Currently work in commissary as the clerk.
- Zero disciplinary reports in 12 years
- Superior programming earning numerous top level certificates, including, but not limited to:
- Challenge Program
- Threshold Program
- Alcoholics Anonymous
- Non-residential drug program
- Culinary Arts
- Auto Cad
- CDL class
- Education tutor training
- Custodial maintenance
- Yoga and yoga instructor
- Creative writing
- Weight loss clinic facilitator
- Skills Program mentor training facilitator,
- Men’s Stop Re-entry Program
- Multiple recreational classes
After coming to prison I found myself in the BOP’s residential Challenge Program. One of the main tenets of the program is the eight attitudes of success, honesty, objectivity, willingness, humility, open-mindedness, gratitude, responsibility, and caring; so simple, yet so life changing. The irony is that had I embraced and lived these attitudes in the free world, I would have never become involved in criminal activity. Now, I am in service to others in the BOP’s Skills Program as a mentor and mental health companion for those with mental health issues and brain injuries. It is rewarding to see others achieve the same personal change and growth that I have.
Upon my release, I look forward to making up for 12 long years away from my wife, son, mother and grandmother. They have always encouraged me to chase my dreams, and I cannot wait to support them in chasing theirs. I have great family and financial support that will help make my reentry a success and I also have three standing job offers.
From my heart what I want you to know about me and why I am deserving of clemency is that for a brief moment in my life I got desperate, I was lost, and I made a terrible mistake. I am so ashamed and disgusted for what I have done to myself, my family, and my community. I believe that my actions deserved punishment, but I respectfully believe I do not deserve to die within the custody of the BOP for my first and only offense. Life for me may have been better before prison in terms of freedom, luxuries, opportunity, etc., but because of what I have learned in prison, I am a much better person. I only hope that I get the chance to prove it.