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Justice for Jacob
$280 raised
14% of $2k goal
7 contributors
2 Years running

Hello,
My name is Lawrence Jacob Stephens and I thank you the reader for taking time to visit my web page.

I am currently a prisoner being housed in the Virginia Department of Corrections (VADOC) where I am serving my 14th year of a Three(3) life sentence(s) plus 23 year term that was imposed by the York County Circuit Court in York County, Va. on December 19, 2002.

On the night of November 13, 2001I committed an armed Robbery where I entered the home of the victims of my crime and I took from them money and drugs. At the time when I committed my crime I was only 18 years old and I had had no prior juvenile or adult criminal record or convictions which made me a first time offender. I was represented by court appointed attorney whom I feel did not represent me effectively and used the fact that I was a first time offender and I had had no knowledge of the law to railroad me into taking a blind plea agreement. There was a pre sentencing report done and my sentencing guidelines was Thirteen (13) years (High, Low, and Mid range) However, I was sentenced way outside of my guidelines. During the time my case was being heard by the York County Circuit Court, I wrote a letter to the Courts requesting that I be represented by other legal counsel due to the fact that I felt as if my attorney wasn't being completely honest with me about some of the information and facts in my case. The Commonwealth Attorney in my case at the time had advised the Judge that my request to have other legal counsel represent me was nothing more than a lie and a stall tactic to delay my trial date which was a lie on her part and my attorney was never relieved of his duty to represent me although he had informed the courts that he was extremely uncomfortable with representing me due to the Attorney/Client conflict of interest in my case. A few days before I was scheduled to go to trial I was advised by my attorney that if I chose to take my case to trial I would be found guilty and possibly given the maximum sentence for my charges due to the fact that I had committed my crime in York County which is a predominately white community of people who would not have my best interest in mind when it came to them(the jurors) hearing my case and sentencing me. Shortly after that conversation with my attorney I was told that if I pled guilty and signed a plea agreement I would receive the thirteen (13) years that was recommended in my presentencing guidelines and that the judge would comply with the plea agreement and sentence me within my presentencing guidelines due to the fact that I was young and I was a first time offender. While being both scared and confused about the time I was facing I signed the plea agreement thinking that I would get the thriteen(13) years that my attorney said I would recieve but unfortunately the Judge gave me the maximum sentence for all charges. The same amount of time that my lawyer told me that I would receive if I would have taken a jury trial.
I did have other codefendant's in my case whom most of them were Caucasian, but none of them received no where near the amount of time that my one other African American codefendant and I received for our individual roles in the crime. Not only is my case a criminal case that displays ineffective assistance of counsel, railroading, and cruel and unusual punishment when taking into account my sentence, but it is also a civil matter where discrimination and racial profiling played a huge part in the outcome of my case.

I am now seeking to receive some form of sentencing reduction for my current sentence of three(3) life terms plus 23 years and I am in need of legal assistance and support from those of you on the outside whom I think can possibly help me receive a second chance in society.

Coming to prison as a child was and still is one of the most difficult things that I've ever experienced in my life. What I find sad is that nothing I had ever done in my life up until the time of my incarceration had prepared me for this part of my life. Yes the time is hard but having to be away from my family and all of the people who I love and care about the most is the worst part of my sentence. Everyday I sit here in a cell wishing that I could just somehow get back all of the time and the people that I've lost while being here the past almost 15 years but I realize that there is no going back. All I can do at this point is stay focused on the things that I am sure to gain in the future.
There's not a day that goes by where I don't think about what I did that night and the people I hurt in the process. If I could take it back I would and I'm not just saying that because it would mean that I would be a free man again but because it was wrong and more importantly I would be out there to give my own two children something that I never had before and that's a father.
Please understand that my reason for writing this letter is not to justify or make excuses for my actions in the crime that I committed. I just don't think that I was given a fair sentence and I shouldn't have to spend the rest of my life in prison for something that I did when I was basically a child. 
There are many "JACOBS" in the world who are in similar situations as mines and I can only hope that me telling my story today will serve as a positive influence for others to accept the past, embrace the future, and strive to find Justice for the injustices that are being committed by the Justice system everyday.

May God Bless you all and I thank you for reading my letter and for your willingness to support and take part in my journey and pursuit to be a free man again someday.
Sincerely,
Lawrence Jacob Stephens

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