I got this e-mail a few days ago.
It concerns a guy in California I'd written an OpEd about.
Last February you wrote a piece, "A prison without hope is a dangerous place" regarding California's unfortunate supreme court decisions surrounding "lifers"
Just wanted to follow up with you and let you know that today, John Dannenberg received a parole date. Of course, we will find out what that means over the course of the next five months, but it is a welcome start. As his daughter's husband, I was allowed in as a 'support person', and was pretty amazed at what I saw. John, with a 20 year record of no discipline action, was BARELY given a date. It does not look good for the other lifers in prison, who do not have as clean a record.
I look forward to reading Indefensible...
Now let's be clear: I don't think John Dannenberg got a parole date because I wrote some OpEd in the LA Times. But I do think that the sustained attention that this issue has received recently has helped. And the fact that his family saw fit to let me know means a lot to me. It suggests that writing can have a genuine impact on the world--something I've really missed since leaving direct service work.