Luis Anthony Rivera.

Ever heard of him? Of course not.

Luis is an invisible human rights abuse victim, among the tens of thousands of people serving immorally long drug sentences that disgrace our nation. Luis, 57, is nearing the 30th anniversary of a life without parole federal prison sentence for a nonviolent cocaine offense.

Yet, a wonderful thing happened to Luis the other day. He saw a bush!

Luis recently transferred to a federal prison not far from Disney World. His new medium security prison has vegetation. The sight made Luis feel alive and grateful.

“They have trees here and, yes, I said trees!” he wrote in an e-mail to Julie Stewart, president of Families Against Mandatory Minimums. “They did not have trees at USP-1…not even a stupid bush. (His latest prison) has a nice big yard with a fence, so you can see the countryside…something I haven’t seen in ten years. I am so glad. Thank you for asking.”

Learn more about Luis and his artistic talents[/button] With 2.3 million people behind bars in the United States, this historic level of mass imprisonment has made it hard for Americans to see  the trees. They see only forests.

For a moment, imagine that the tree above is Luis Anthony Rivera, bent with age, battered by forces he can’t control. Yet still beautiful.

A tree made Luis glad today. Thank you for asking.


Luis Rivera veterans portrait

Luis Rivera, in the Army

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