Harvey Hawks: the skateboarder competing at the 1978 Hester ISA Pro Bowl Contest held at Skateboard Heaven, Spring Valley, California

On January 8, 2013, Harvey Hawks was released from prison after more than 26 years behind bars. In the Summer of 2004, Concrete Wave Magazine published an article on his long-term sentence. This was Hawks' life story.

"The people who wrote these Draconian laws have no clue how long that is or what it can do to a person," remarks Harold Harvey Hawks.

"If you are weak, all kinds of bad things can come your way."

"The strong realize that no matter where you are, it's your life, and you've got to make the best of it. I've not wasted a minute of my life in here."

So echo the comments of Harvey Hawks, a professional skateboarder of the late 1970s - a born and raised Badlander whose photos and accomplishments often visited the pages of skateboarding magazines of the old-school era.

Twenty-five years have passed, and the skateboarders of that age have gone in many directions, some disappearing completely while others are still in the mix and pulse of the sport.

Harvey comes to us today through letters, phone calls, visits to Soledad Prison, legal documents, and interviews with people from his inner circle.

The lyrics and art that adorn these pages are Harvey's creations, adding color and depth to the picture of a man far removed from society.

Harvey went down his own road - a path of social and self-destruction, which hit bottom with a prison sentence of 17 years to life for second-degree murder.

Aggression is a natural component of competitive skateboarding that can linger or spill over into our everyday lives.

If we are in control of it, aggression can be molded into productive ends.

When control slips from our grasp, as it did Harvey's on a hot August night in 1986, tragedy can occur, and consequences must be paid.

For how long? At what cost?

Herein is the continuing saga of a lost Badlander, a man who has turned his life around and paid his social dues but remains trapped inside a penal system that doesn't follow its own statutes.

A price tag cannot be put on the loss of human life, nor can a value be assessed to a person's liberty. When do political injustice and vengeance stop? When is enough, enough?

Harvey Hawks and the authorities: the 1970s skateboarder spent over 26 years in prison | Photo: Hawks Archive

Raised in the Badlands

Playin' by the shore, in my little yellow boat
Mom and Dad so glad to have me
A home in the hills, summertime at Arrowhead
Playin' in the sun down by the lake
But as the story unfolds, and as I grow old
No one could have guessed the likes of me

How did I ever turn out quite like this
Emotions shaped me, experience made me
I ain't no bad seed, I just lost my way
But the night I drew that gun, It surely shamed me...

("Dreams of Arrowhead," 1995)

The youngest of five siblings, Harvey grew up between two realms of California.

While his parents' primary residence was in Pomona, they also built and owned a mile-high home in Lake Arrowhead, which the family frequented most of the summer and many weekends throughout the year.

The mountain experience exposed Harvey at an early age to hiking and the fluid sports of sailing, water, and snow skiing.

Of course, skateboarding and biking on the mountain roads provided him with skills and experience that he would later use in his skating career.

However, it was the family's primary residence down in Pomona that provided Harvey with exposure to urban terrain and experience, allowing him to excel in the sport.

Having older siblings meant that skates and skateboards were already in the Hawks' residence when Harvey was very young.

"Some of my earliest memories are of playing with my sisters' Red Rider steel-wheeled skateboard and a laminated deck with clay wheels that my brother had made."

Early on, Harvey and his neighborhood friends began making their own boards.

"He used to custom paint his boards," recalls life-long friend Scott Baumann, who further adds that "Harvey's artistic and craft skills emerged at a young age."

Similar themes no doubt are recalled by many an old-school veteran.

Harvey expands on those memories, reminiscing that "before I could drive, my skateboard was my transportation. What a difference Cadillac and Road Riders made when they came out."

"If I had to travel more than a few miles, I'd strap my board to my bike because, typically, I would be on my way to a hot skating spot like the 6th Street Wave or the 25th Street Pool."

In the 1960s and 1970s, Pomona was an area going through urban upheaval.

What was once a middle-class city was fragmented by block-busting, as many poverty-stricken ethnic families were relocated to Pomona from South Central and East Los Angeles.

In the midst of the Civil Rights movement, Blacks, Hispanics, and Whites were thrown together in a hodgepodge of ghettos and barrios, adrift in a sea of middle-class white suburbia.

Harvey's hometown was transformed into a rough place with a high crime rate.

"More than once, I had to use my skateboard for self-defense or escape-and-evade from crazies and gang bangers."

Consequently, urban upheaval was a dream come true for aspiring young skateboarders.

"There were constantly homes and apartment buildings being boarded up," Harvey recalls, a wide grin on his face.

"We regularly scouted out and drained pools to ride, and that was just in my local area. Yeah, we had our share of run-ins with irate mortgage guys or property owners."

In addition to a rich crop of backyard pools, the entire west end of the Inland Empire was covered with citrus groves.

The groves included an abundance of concrete drainage ditches and reservoirs, perfect for skating.

Built for flood control to allow suburban expansion of the area, the San Antonio Dam, home of Baldy Pipe, was constructed by the Army Corps of Engineers in 1955, to whom every Badlander owes a debt of gratitude.

Continued tract home expansion in the area provided long, steep, and wide stretches of prime downhilling pavement in the Cucamonga area.

Hitching rides with older friends, Harvey was able to tap the vast array of skateboarding terrain the Badlands had to offer.

"Often, I'd get dropped off at a great skate spot like the L-Pool and have to bike or skateboard home or to my sister's house in Ontario."

Such was exactly the case on a late summer afternoon in 1974 at Baldy Pipe.

After a good session ripping the pipe and flat walls, Harvey and two friends started bombing "The Line," a long, smooth drainage wash that extends from the dam for miles down into the Pomona Valley, with convenient service access near Harvey's home.

Halfway down, water from irrigation ponds was being emptied into the wash.

"We started piling up rocks to climb out, and a baby rattlesnake bit me twice on the thumb before I realized it."

The worst part of the snakebite incident was an allergic reaction to the anti-venom.

"My eyesight was never the same."

From irate homeowners to gang bangers to rattlesnakes in "The Line," the Badlands could be a dangerous place to skate.

But it was, of course, Baldy Pipe that brought notoriety to the Badlands.

It drew in skaters from other areas, and it led to Hoffman's development of the Upland Pipeline Skatepark.

Harvey Hawks: a Badlander with prolific vert skating skills | Photo: Hawks Archive

Seasons of Bliss

"No doubt the Pomona environment endowed me with a great training ground and thick skin that allowed me to propel myself into the rising tide of skateboarding at the time."

"There's good and bad in everything, as this same scene exposed me to some pretty heavy partying, guns, and violence as a problem-solving tool."

By the time Harvey got his driver's license in 1975, he knew all the great skateboarding spots in the Badlands and began hanging out with other skaters from Claremont, Montclair, Ontario, and Upland.

He was also a regular at local competitions - mostly slalom and freestyle early on.

"I spent a lot of time at the 'congregational spots,' like the L-Pool, The Wave, and Magnolia School, where I met many of the other aspiring Badlanders, such as Tay Hunt, Muckus, Curt Kimbel, Charlie Ransom, Steve Evans, Rick' Ick' Howell, Lee Gahimer, Mike Cantu, Bud Alred as well as the Hoffmans."

Some of these guys became lifelong friends.

As an amateur contestant, Harvey quickly picked up sponsors, the first being C&D Skateboards and Maxwell.

"The guys I grew up with," remarks Harvey, "tripped pretty hard the first time my picture appeared in a skateboarding magazine."

Continued exposure and good results in competitions throughout the Southland led to a sponsorship from George Powell around 1976.

Along with teammates Steve Olson and Ray Bones, Harvey turned pro riding for George.

"He was instrumental in getting me a 'Who's Hot' in Skateboarder, and I gave good showings for the Bones Team, particularly in 1978 at Signal Hill, the Hester Pro Bowl Series, and the Carson Banked Slalom."

There is little doubt that the opening of the Upland Pipeline Skatepark had a huge impact on Harvey's career.

"It was the premiere spot to skate, and I rode the park relentlessly. I took some of the biggest slams of my life there."

"I can vividly remember Don Hoffman waking me up at the bottom of the 12-foot bowl with smelling salt and walking me to an ambulance."

The park drew the focus of the skateboarding world, launched numerous Badlanders into the limelight (e.g., the Alba brothers), and solidified the camaraderie and ethic of the Badlanders.

After graduating from Pomona High in 1978, Harvey joined Curt, Charlie, and Steve, immediately leaving for the Another Roadside Attraction (ARA) racing circuit in Colorado.

"That Rocky Mountain experience was one of the magical times of my life, but it led to a split with George Powell."

His body banged from years of vertical riding (many without proper safety equipment), and Harvey desired to pursue a racing career.

"George was not real hot on the idea, as he wanted me to focus on vert-riding and photo opportunities, but I was burnt out and needed a break. It's ironic because we ended up skating a lot of vert in Colorado."

The longtime partnership with Powell ended after the first ARA race in July.

Harvey gravitated to Team Astral with the rest of the Badlanders for the World Championships at Derby Downs and the remainder of the ARA circuit.

After a slow start, Harvey excelled in the thin air and mountain terrain, finishing 5th overall in late August against the world's top skateboard racers of the era.

"I felt like I was just getting my flow when the circuit abruptly ended."

The cancellation of the 6th ARA race that summer seemed to be a signal pyre of things to come in the industry.

As a professional skateboarder, Harvey had an incredible amount of independence at a young age.

"Curt recently reminded me of ordering lobster tails in expensive restaurants while still wearing our kneepads."

"In Colorado, we went on some incredible hiking treks, something that Tay and I did regularly in the San Bernardino Mountains above the Badlands."

The year after Colorado was highlighted by riding the huge Ameron pipes in the Arizona desert; shooting the movie "Skateboard Mania" in many locations with Greg Lemonds (a film that disappeared after his sudden death in a car accident); and shooting photo sessions for Bad Company Skateboards, to name only a few.

The sport was, however, in serious decline.

Harvey finished his skating career doing safety exhibitions for Team Pepsi with Gahimer, Cantu, and Alred.

"I just seemed to lose interest in the sport, and I was having problems with my eyes" (a growing problem since the snakebite).

Like so many other old-school veterans, Harvey melted away from the thawing skateboarding scene.

"I was partying way too much. It was difficult to give up skater bliss for the life of an average Joe."

Harvey Hawks: competing in The Signal Hill Speed Run 1978 downhill skateboarding event | Photo: Ed Economy Collection

The Crash

Seventeen I heard the call,
Bohemian Rhapsody
Nine years I fought myself,
narcissistic reality
An August night,
in a fight, my other side prevailed.
I went down twisting in my broken self
I went down twisting in a prison cell

("My Twisted Quest," 1997)

In the 1978 "Who's Hot" article, Brian Gillogly quotes Harvey as saying: "You just have to open your eyes. There's no end to the things you can do in this world!"

The rapid decline of the skateboarding industry in 1979 was a culture shock for everyone.

"I basically started shutting my eyes on my dreams," Harvey confesses, "until I completely crashed my life and harmed many others around me."

Harvey openly acknowledges that he abused skateboarding.

"Don't get me wrong. I practiced and trained, to some extent, but I tended to rely on my natural talent for fluid sports."

"When I watch the level of vert-riding today, these guys ride with extreme athletic amplitude. In no way did I let myself rise to my full potential."

"I got side-tracked in the party scene and failed to stay focused and treat the sport as an athletic endeavor. I took skateboarding for granted and abused it as a means to party and have fun."

Had Harvey stayed focused, there's little doubt that he could have carved out a more meaningful legacy.

Partying, then as it is now, is a hard bug to shake for many with the adventurous spirit.

"I became a hedonist, and it led me into self-alienation and self-destruction."

He became unmotivated from smoking pot.

The boredom from doing nothing seemed to trigger the need to drink to kill the pain of failing to live.

Harvey dug his own hole "... trying to replace some of the thrills I'd experienced skateboarding by partying myself into oblivion."

Some of that thrill-seeking manifested itself in rallying four-banger cars, but after totaling two Volkswagen Scirocco (a popular car to crash with many skaters at the time), Harvey began losing interest in fluid sports altogether.

A natural bassist, he started making a transition into music, yet Harvey was too busy partying and too far gone to do much with it.

"I had smothered the artist and adventurer within me... But I had to do something, so I wound up laying flooring with my brother, John."

He later worked in various realms of construction, culminating with solar and air conditioning systems.

"I applied myself, and while the work itself was fulfilling, it was not monetarily."

Realizing what his parents and others had achieved and hamstrung by his diminished earning potential in a period of economic recession, "it just made me feel more estranged."

Of course, life is always a mixed bag.

In his post-skateboarding twilight, Harvey half-heartedly tried college, remembers some good snow skiing, surfing, and hiking trips, and many great times with family and friends at Lake Arrowhead.

"There were also some great girlfriends. But nothing ever seemed to go anywhere, even when I worked my ass off for it."

By 1983 Harvey was in a deep personal rut and looking for something new.

"That was when I met Roxanne. I think we were both looking for a change. We met, married, and had our son, Billy, in little over a year's time."

It was a change alright, one that manifested itself in either full bliss or utter hell with little middle ground.

"Billy was and is a huge bright spot in my life, but Rox and I got married too fast and for the wrong reasons. I sure as hell was not ready for the domestic responsibilities of a home, wife, and kid."

Regretfully, after two years of breakups and restarts, the couple began divorce proceedings.

"It was 1986, and my drinking was way out of control," Harvey explains.

"I simply did not have the proper mental strategies to deal with a failed marriage, the continued turmoil between us, and my own sense of alienation."

It all came to a head on the night of August 22, 1986, on a stretch of freeway in Corona, California.

After spending four hours drinking while waiting to pick up his son, Harvey and Roxanne had one last blow-out fight.

Hastily, he put his son in the car and headed towards Lake Arrowhead.

The California Appellate Court summarized the incident that followed as a "traffic dispute... between the driver of the van and Hawks," although one of the jurors after the trial may have been more accurate, stating that "two hot-heads bumped heads on the freeway that night."

However one might characterize the crime, the fact is that a tragedy occurred that night that devastated a lot of lives.

"I am and always have been truly sorry and remorseful for my actions that night. I carry this burden with me every day of my life. I always will. My heart goes out to the Dwyer and Varga families."

"This article gives me a unique, responsible, and public opportunity to apologize again to them, my family and friends, and society at large. I accept responsibility for my actions, and I am sorry."

Harvey Hawks: riding frontside at Cindy Court in P-Town | Hawks Archive

Murder in the Second Degree

For legal purposes and conciseness, the telling of the circumstances of this crime is best left to Steve Defilippis, Harvey's attorney.

As written in a letter to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger after Harvey's 4th parole hearing: "The crime actually arose out of a freeway altercation, where Mr. Hawks was cut off, run off the road, and had objects thrown at his car by the driver of another vehicle, the van in which the victim was a backseat passenger."

"Unfortunately, Mr. Hawks was intoxicated and overreacted to the driver's conduct, clearly failing to handle the situation properly."

"He reached behind his seat to where the shotgun he was to use the next day for skeet shooting was located, intending to fire a 'warning' shot to frighten the other driver."

"However, rather than getting a round of skeet load, he accidentally removed a round containing a slug, and instead of tiny pellets that would have bounced harmlessly off the van, the round penetrated the back wall of the vehicle and struck and killed the victim, exiting her body and wounding another backseat passenger."

"The evidence was clear," continues Defilippis, "that the victims could not be seen by Mr. Hawks, and to his knowledge, the driver was the only occupant of that vehicle."

"The evidence was equally clear that Mr. Hawks did not intend to kill anyone by his actions, and while profoundly irresponsible, he was not acting with murderous intent."

"This was confirmed by the trial jury who acquitted Mr. Hawks of all of the alternative charges that had included the element of intent to kill."

To compound the matter, Harvey (unaware that he had shot anyone until his arrest four days later) had killed Patricia Faye Dwyer, an off-duty policewoman (the first in the City of Corona).

The trial had clear political overtones that appear to resonate even today.

The District Attorney of Riverside was out to hype the killing as the first "road rage" incident (even though people have been shooting from cars since they were invented) and pulled no stops, legal or illegal, to ensure a murder conviction.

The victim's occupation (although it had nothing to do with the facts of the crime) was also a clear political motivating factor for the DA.

"A person's life is filleted wide open during a murder trial," Harvey explains.

"It is intense and adverse to be on the wrong side of the law and to realize that you have killed a good person, wounded another, Wendy Varga, and ruined their family's lives and your own."

At sentencing, Harvey did his sincere best to apologize for his actions, but he was still struggling with the reality of it all.

During the trial and over the years, Harvey has learned (from family, friends, other prisoners, and the Dwyers at parole hearings) what a good and unique person Pat Dwyer was.

"I pray for her and Wendy Varga, who committed suicide a few years ago, every day of my life."

"Think about this: what do you do when you've been convicted of killing a person of her caliber, and the weight of society has crashed down upon you?"

To answer that question is to explore an utter personal nightmare. For Harvey, it was a turning point in his life.

"When I was arrested in Pomona and told that I had killed someone, I had a Coors bottle in my hand. When I put that bottle down, I began a life of dedicated sobriety."

"I went through emotional hell during the trial, and it took me a year or so to get my feet under me, open my eyes, realize the extent of this tragedy, and start going forward."

Forward he did go into the bottom of the barrel of the California prison system.

Entering the California Department of Corrections (CDC) at Chino Prison on July 2, 1987, Harvey was transferred to Folsom State Prison within a month.

Folsom was one of the state's most notorious and violent prisons at the time - it was the proverbial end of the road.

The use of deadly force by prison guards was a common practice to quell fistfights, stabbings, and riots until 1996, when the department was forced to change its policies.

"That was one of the few positive changes that I can think of," Harvey states, ''as most of the policy changes over the past two decades have been aimed at stripping away inmate rights and privileges."

Steadily and methodically, the incentives for prisoners to behave, participate in positive programs, and earn good-time credits have been stripped away by the CDC, right-wing legislators, and other politicians who want to appear tough on crime.

The label "corrections" is a misnomer. The stated purpose of prison is punishment in California.

"While the public sentiment is beginning to change, there are still too few rehabilitative opportunities to go around," reflects Harvey, "and it is probably going to get worse with the budget crisis."

The manner in which corrections have functioned in California for nearly three decades is tell-tale as to why CDC does not promote a major rehabilitation effort.

The more people CDC can lock up and keep on parole (a literal pool of "human capital" to fuel overcrowding), the more CDC can push for prison expansion in the name of public safety and to monopolize its grip on the state budget.

It's pure and simple bureaucratic power expansion.

Largest in the US, CDC now demands a 5.6 billion dollar annual budget to maintain 160,000 prisoners in 33 major prisons with some 25,000 unionized guards that represent one of the most powerful special interest groups in the state.

The more prisoners, the more prison guards required.

The more prison guards, the more powerfully they lobby to keep prisoners in jail.

A person can go one of two ways in prison.

Some continue down the spiral of self-destruction using drugs (drugs are easily obtainable in prison) or gangbanging, for instance, falling deeper into the institutional trap.

Others begin the process of change.

There is no walking the fence, and those who fail to follow the cardinal rules (no drugs, no punks, no gangs, no gambling, no snitching) sooner or later crash, sometimes with deadly consequences.

Harvey explains that "too many prisoners just don't get it. Prison is about changing your life."

"People are thrown behind bars because their lives have strayed way outside the acceptable social norms. Like it or not, prison is the chance to turn it around - not dig a deeper hole for yourself."

At age 44, Harvey does not see his incarceration as a totally negative thing.

"Certainly, there are plenty of negatives tied to this, especially for the people I've harmed and my own family and friends. Out of this tragedy, something positive has to come. It has been up to me to change my life."

Step by step, day by day, year by year, relentlessly - he's done exactly that.

"Living clean and sober, despite the madness around me, has allowed me to focus my energies on positive goals and activities."

"It has been the key that let me stay centered with open eyes, grow and learn. I'll never drink again."

Beginning with weekend community college classes and correspondence courses, Harvey started his formal educational run soon after arriving at Old Folsom.

It was not until arriving at Soledad in 1989 that he was able to access the Hartnell College program, earning an AA degree in 1992.

He participated in the San Jose State University program until Federal Pell Grants were canceled for all prisoners in 1993.

"I was extremely fortunate to tap those educational resources while they were available. Like everything else in here or out there, if you really want it, you have to fight for it."

Harvey's family financed his continued education through correspondence courses.

He completed a Bachelor's degree from Indiana University in 1995 and a Master of the Arts degree from California State University, Dominguez Hills, in 1998.

"I learned a tremendous amount about myself and my place in society through education."

"The work on the MA, particularly, salvaged and solidified the artist in me. I'll never let that side of me slip away, as I'd be losing myself again."

The challenge of the Master's degree program provided Harvey with a unique opportunity to combine his extensive learning in psychology, sociology, humanities, the arts, and the prison experience.

His Master's thesis, "Prison as an Alienating Machine," outlines the social problems of corrections in California and offers a Behavioral and Humanistic model for reform.

Vocational learning has also greatly expanded his plethora of skills.

"It takes years on waiting lists to get into the few vocational programs that are available."

Harvey waited nearly ten years until he qualified in 1996 for placement in his first trade in computer data processing and information technologies.

Since then, he has mastered computer repair (including A+ Certification, only one of four prisoners in the state to have done so) and mechanical drafting (AutoCAD), and he is currently learning computer graphic arts technologies.

A regular member of Alcoholics Anonymous since 1990, he has participated in self-help and therapy programs at every chance.

"These programs come and go, and I've been able to explore myself deeply through the dozen or so therapeutic programs I've been in."

In fact, his prison counselor's reports and psychological evaluations are all favorable, stating that he is a low risk to society with a violence potential no more than that of the average person.

Besides a regular workload in the vocational print shop, studying, exercise, running, prayer/meditation, the arts, and letter writing are everyday things for Harvey.

"I've built my own structure within the total institutional setting that keeps me focused and moving forward with my life. That personal structure will allow me someday to successfully reintegrate into society."

Choices, activities, food, scenery, and people don't change much. Boredom and repetition fuel gossip, and rumors spread like wildfire.

"I could write a book on what it's like to live in prison. It sucks."

"But it's part of the price you have to pay. It's not what has been taken from you that really matters. It is what you make of your time that counts."

California Penal Code Section 3041 regulates the manner in which term-to-life prisoners are released or imprisoned longer.

Briefly, the statute mandates that prisoners "shall normally receive" a release date at their initial parole hearing, and "like-terms" of imprisonment for "like-crimes" shall be established.

Only when the gravity of the base offense is so severe that it threatens public safety will parole be denied.

Lifers must serve two-thirds of the base term (in Harvey's case, 17 years) to be eligible for parole, and the Board of Prison Terms (Board) has established like-crimes matrixes to determine how long a prisoner should serve for a given offense.

Laws are written and meant to be followed, especially by the executive branch of government, but the parole system in California is flawed, broken, and abused.

Term-to-life sentencing is supposed to function as follows: a prisoner is expected to program positively, change, and prepare for the future.

State law provides a lengthy base term that gives the prisoner plenty of time to process his/her life and the state plenty of time to observe those changes.

At the initial hearing, a parole date is set according to the matrixes for like crimes.

The prisoner completes the term and is released on parole, fulfilling the liberty interest mandated by PC 3041.

If, however, a prisoner fails to change and exhibits antisocial behaviors that would indicate that the prisoner is a "current" threat to public safety, that person can be held indefinitely.

"And there are plenty who fail to change their lives," adds Harvey, "along with others who committed horrific crimes that fall outside the matrixes."

Society has a right to protect itself from predators; at the same, it cannot justifiably label any and every murder or kidnap unredeemable.

The system must strike a balance between public safety, the offender's criminal culpability, and the liberty interest in parole.

Currently, the Board (consisting largely of right-wing ex-lawmakers and ex-law enforcement) and the governor are abusing their discretion.

It's politics that determines parole, not a prisoner's merit (a ripple that clearly underlies the surface of Harvey's hearings).

The governor selects the Board members and determines policy.

It is political suicide in California to fail to appear tough on crime, and no governor dares risk a Willie Horton incident.

Of course, victims' rights groups (a powerful lobby in Sacramento) want vengeance against lifers.

"My hearings are prosecutorial in nature."

"They are like repetitious trials, the aim of which is to find any reason to deny me parole rather than a weighing of the balance of my suitability."

The good (17 years of positive change, growth, and preparation) never outweighs the bad (the static nature of an unintentional homicide).

"I've stayed out of trouble and done everything right. The Board acknowledges it but continues to find me unsuitable for parole."

"It makes no sense. A person's merit and the law are supposed to determine suitability - not politics."

"It is against this backdrop that the denial of parole to Mr. Hawks on November 19, 2003, is so troubling," writes Attorney Defilippis.

"This is the fourth time a parole date has been denied. As they have in the past, the Board relied exclusively on the crime since there is absolutely nothing in Mr. Hawks' programming that could conceivably be considered adverse."

"However, as discussed above, this crime simply does not warrant a sentence in excess of every available term under the second-degree murder matrix."

First eligible for parole in 1998, Harvey is now serving a prison term grossly disproportionate to his criminal culpability in violation of PC 3041.

A related paradox exists for all prisoners in the state, as under PC 3041, lifers are required to rehabilitate themselves in order to be found suitable for parole.

This explains why lifers dominate access to vocational trades and other therapy and self-help opportunities.

Yet, because the Board normally denies parole, term-to-life prisoners are now serving years, even decades, beyond what the matrixes proscribe for like-terms for like-crimes.

"It's a ludicrous system," exclaims Harvey, who insists that irony has nothing to do with it.

"Of course, I hold on to some shred of hope for release, but it is a dangerous thing to lean on."

"I know a lot of guys who have completely given up and a few who have committed suicide. After four parole hearings, I still don't see any daylight. I'll never give up, though."

Prisons, parole, recidivism, and the fallacy of punishment are major social problems in California and throughout the US.

The public is finally becoming aware, but uprooting the deeply entrenched means and ideology of the criminological right wing will not be easy.

Replacing current dysfunctional norms with socially responsible new ones will be painful, expensive, and may take years - decades.

Harvey Hawks: one of the most influential skateboarders of the 1970s | Photo: Hawks Archive

Hawks' Support Network

In the meantime, there is Harvey, a changed man ready and worthy of parole, with a huge support network on the outside waiting for him.

"I'm a fortunate prisoner. My family has been there with me through the thick of it - always ready to help. The same goes for many of my friends and some fellow Badlanders."

Not all who are cast away to prison come out worse off, and Harvey has all the elements of a success story waiting to happen.

"I've got a job waiting for him in LA County as soon as he's out, and now is a good time," Scott Baumann confirms, who is joined by Breck Spencer with a duplicate offer in San Bernardino County.

Harvey's oldest sister, Georgia Hill, verifies that "he has a place to live in nearly every county in Southern California and elsewhere, and the entire family is ready to assist him with everything that he will need to get himself re-established, anywhere."

There is also Big John and Glo to consider, Harvey's parents, who have both passed away with their youngest son still in chains.

"They deserve any and all credit due. My folks pushed me to learn and grow."

"They provided me with the resources to go forward, and my immediate family continued to push and provide when my parents could no longer do so. I would have been lost without them all."

The general consensus from his supporters is that "enough is enough." It is rightfully time to let him back into society.

It is time to stop wasting $30,000 tax dollars each year on a rehabilitated man. Harvey has paid his debt to society.

His friends and family remain firmly in his corner and will not give up until he is released. Yet, Harvey knows in his own way that things will never really be over with.

"I'll bear this burden with me through eternity. But I'll bear it the right way."

There is another side to this story, as there are those who are opposed to Harvey's parole.

It is hoped that this article causes no trauma to anyone, yet it is time that this story comes to light.

For over 17 years, Harvey himself has remained respectfully silent and distant outside of legal proceedings-giving those he harmed room to breathe, grieve, grow, and find peace.

"I have gone forward under the presumption that they would tell me if they wanted to hear from me."

At parole hearings, Dwyer's family members give testimony of the terrible loss that they have suffered and the impact the crime has had on their lives.

Deputy DAs continue to hype the crime as first-degree murder committed by a horrific monster of a person who has failed to change.

Recently, the Corona Police Department and associates have chimed in, adding the weight of a law enforcement agency in a planned campaign to keep Harvey behind bars.

"Their eyes are closed to my sincerity and remorse and the fact that I've rehabilitated myself. They don't ever want me to leave this place, and I understand their hatred of me."

Knowing that hatred is not healthy for anyone and being keenly aware of their pain, Harvey adds, "I can only pray that they will all draw strength, knowledge, courage, and wisdom from their memories of Patricia Faye Dwyer and go forward constructively with their lives."

Living with the loss of Mrs. Dwyer on his mind and soul daily, Harvey further explains, "I am ashamed and mortified that I took the life of such a good person, and I can't for one second believe in my heart that a person of her character would want anything but for everyone to go forward with their lives."

And it would have been mortally wrong if Harvey had not turned his life around. On this point, his sentiments are cutting.

"I may not ever be able to find the right words; they may not exist."

"I'm sorry, sickened, and remorseful for what I did, and at every reasonable chance to do so, I have apologized to those concerned on all sides of this tragedy."

"I will continue to do so when appropriate or if asked to do so."

"But," continues Harvey, "I've done more than just apologize. I've changed my life and made myself ready for parole. I'm a distant cousin of the person I was nearly 18 years ago."

"I crashed my life, harmed so many people, and had to be thrown in prison before I finally grew up, took responsibility for myself, and became a man."

Indeed, how could he have failed - his "eyes" are again "wide open."

At this point, it is the state and the application of the law that is failing Harvey (and all of us in society) by keeping a reformed man in prison many years beyond what was due time.

Words by Peter Camann and Curt Kimbel | Originally published in Concrete Wave Magazine (Volume 3, Summer 2004)

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