In 2011, my boyfriend Donald Perry — a manager at a soup kitchen and homeless outreach center in western Massachusetts — was pulled over and arrested. His crime? He gave a ride to a homeless man who, though Donald didn’t know it, had stolen items with him including an iPad.
When the man realized the police were using GPS to track the iPad to Donald’s car, he fled — leaving Donald to be arrested. But although Donald was acquitted by a jury in July, he is still in prison seven months later.
At the time of his arrest, Donald was on parole for a robbery he committed 30 years ago. But since then, Donald has been one of the Parole Board’s great success stories — especially because of his tireless service to the homeless. Donald isn’t a danger to society — he’s a loving father, grandfather, partner and public servant. He should be home with me, not in prison.
When Donald first told me he was on parole, I wanted to cut the relationship off. But he won me over with his commitment to serving those in need and his boundless love for his children and grandchildren. We were working hard and we were happy — we were even planning our next vacation together.
As of today, Donald has been in prison for 17 months. He is surrounded by men who feel hopeless and in some cases are mentally ill and physically dangerous. It is terrifying that a hearing next month could decide whether or not he goes home — or stays in prison for years to come even though a jury acquitted him.
We’ve been so touched by the outpouring of support for Donald from our community that we’re ready to open up to the possibility that many more people around the country could stand with us to call on the Parole Board to let Donald come home. If thousands of people sign my petition, I think we have a real chance the Parole Board will listen.