using the arrow buttons.
by clicking on the page.
the page around when zoomed in by dragging it.
the zoom using the slider when zoomed-in.
by clicking on the zoomed-in page.
by entering text in the search field, and select "This Issue" or "All Issues"
by clicking on thumbnails to select pages, and then press the print button.
displays sections with thumbnails and descriptions.
displays a slider of thumbnails. Click on a page to jump.
allows you to browse the full archive.
about your subscription?
Lions Roar : July 2018
few lines of “Happy Birthday.” And so he enters his fifty-sixth year of a life spent mostly in this prison. Jarvis was a Black child in Southern California who lived through the worst of what poverty and the state foster care system and juvenile justice system had to offer. He was imprisoned as a child for running away from abusive homes, and then at eighteen he held a gun in a rob- bery organized by his uncle’s friend and at nineteen went to San Quentin. There he might have served out his time, but he was accused of sharpening the weapon with which a prison guard was murdered in the summer of 1985, when he was twenty- three. There are layers of rea- sons to question the charges, including the apparent physi- cal impossibility of his having transported a weapon from where he was locked up to where the murderer stabbed the guard. The trial was a farce, with shoddy evidence, missing evidence, witnesses who were bribed, and oth- ers who changed their story. Someone else has confessed to sharpening the weapon. The murderer and the prisoner who ordered the murder did not receive the death penalty. The murderer has testified that Jarvis is innocent. Pema Chödrön says, “I believe in Jarvis Masters’s innocence. This is not simply because of my love for him, but my cer- tainty is based on having heard much of the evidence.” There is a community of Buddhists who hope to build a bigger movement to free him. They’re drawing attention to his case by raising his profile with letters to California’s governor, attorney gen- eral, and a key state senator, and pressing for a fair hearing soon. On January 26, there was a worldwide day of meditation with and for Jarvis. You can learn more at freejarvis.org. ♦ than in any other state. The last execution was in 2006, of a man sentenced in 1981. It’s cruel and unusual punishment to keep someone waiting, not knowing if and when a state-inflicted death will hap- pen. When Jarvis went on a hunger strike, he was thinking of all the condemned men there with him who die of natural causes or go mad in the bleak conditions under which they live. It’s a complicated situation—many prisoners fear that if the death penalty is overturned, they will be given life without parole and lose their access to the appeals process and to legal representation. They are, in a way, pris- oners of bureaucracy. On election day in 2016, Californians voted to pass Proposi- tion 66, a measure designed to speed up the death penalty. But there is a stalemate about what drugs can be legally used for executions. In a way, the prisoners are locked in a box labeled TRAUMA, and who holds the key remains to be seen. Jarvis and I talk about his case, and his hunger strike, and the legal situation, and the deep suffering he sees all around him. Then we talk about writing, and his books, and then my books, and then the trauma of those subjected to violence on the street, in the home, and in prison. Somehow two hours pass, and then the guards take him away as I hastily sing a with her from the other side. Sometimes the child responds; sometimes she looks away. I wave and smile, but she’s having noneofitfrommeandnotsomuchofit from the man who might be her father. It’s visiting day at San Quentin State Prison: February 24, 2018. It’s also Jar- vis Masters’s fifty-sixth birthday, and I’m waiting to see him. These are some things you might want to know about Jarvis Masters: Pema Chödrön drops by to see him when she’s in the Bay Area. He took the precepts with Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche in 1989. He has a serious meditation practice and a lively sense of humor. And he’s on death row in San Quentin for a crime he did not commit. Jarvis has been waiting for more than three decades for a chance to have the shoddy evidence and corrupted trial that convicted him reviewed and his conviction overturned. During that time, he’s written a few books, converted to Bud- dhism, spent a lot of time med- itating, and built a remarkably wide and thriving social life beyond the prison walls, much of it with fellow Buddhists. I admire the ways he’s managed to make, in some ways, a good life within the most horrific limits imaginable. Though our earlier visits were in cages, today I have to talk to him through thick glass because he’s being punished for protesting his own situation and that of the men around him. He’s waited decades for a chance to challenge the verdict and introduce new evidence, during which time he’s lived with a death sentence hanging over him. Here in California, we are not sure whether we want to have state-sanctioned murders or not, so we keep sentencing people to death but have held few execu- tions since the death penalty was rein- stated. There are now more than seven hundred people on death row, far more Rebecca Solnit visits Masters on death row in San Quentin State Prison. The two often speak about his legal situation, the books both are writing, and trauma. COURTESYOFREBECCASOLNIT LION’S ROAR | JULY 2018 14 CULTURE • LIFE • PRACTICE