To: Governor Matt Bevin

Justice for Thomas Payne, Jr.

7'2" Thomas Payne, Jr., the first African American to play basketball for the University of Kentucky, has served more years than any other inmate in the Kentucky prison system sentenced in the same time frame (from 1977 to present) with a life sentence for a rape charge. He has served more years than the maximum required under the 1975 statute - enough to merit an immediate commutation today! The only case analogous to Mr. Payne's, was that of Daniel Jones, who was convicted of rape in 1975 in Harlan County. Mr. Jones was given a life without possibility of parole sentence, but was subsequently released in 1998 because a lower court held that he should have been sentenced under the statute of 1975 which stipulated a sentence of 10 to 20 years. In Mr. Payne's case, he was tried in 1977, but also sentenced under a repealed 1971 statute, instead of the 1975 statute. His sentence has been allowed to stand. Additionally, he was sentenced to 15 years for a parole violation. This treatment reveals a history of racism in the state of Kentucky that has stubbornly refused to die.

Why is this important?

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere" - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tom Petty wrote: "Redemption comes to those who wait, forgiveness is the key."

Governor Beshear has the key and must step in and provide justice for Thomas Payne, Jr., his family, and the community to which he wishes to return and make a meaningful contribution.

61 year old Thomas Payne, Jr., has been serving a life sentence for the majority of his adult life. Thomas was 20 years old when his actions resulted in this sentence. He lives with remorse every day for his actions and dedicates his life to Christ. He has more than served the time of his sentence, enough to merit an equitable commutation. In fact, he has served enough time toward a twenty year sentence to merit release without application of credit for good time earned. At present, he is working as an Institutional Grievance Aide at Little Sandy Hook Correctional Complex. In this role, he interacts daily with staff and inmates concerning dispute resolution and problem solving. He utilizes this position to positively impact the beliefs, values, and behaviors of young inmates having issues with adjustment and rebellion against authority. These contributions can be put to better use if we take action today!