Sunday, January 06, 2013

January 2013 A new year

Hello Everyone,


Security Level Change
Last year the security level on Brandon's honor yard was lowered from a Level IV to a Level III. As a result of the change, inmates are allowed out of their cells for more hours a day, a good thing, but it ups the the noise level to a constant shouting racket. Silence is something that most people take for granted until they lose it and discover how precious it was.

The lowered security level also brought a new privilege - access to the outside yard at night. For the first time since 1995, Brandon was allowed to go outside and look up at the stars.  He is happy to see them again.

During the day, in a shared 9 x 12 cell, Brandon paints with supplies purchased from donations. He's appreciates being allowed to have them. He uses this creative outlet is an anchor for his sanity.

In September, Brandon's family, friends and supporters turned out for his first ever art show in Malibu. It was a tremendous success. Having spent nearly 18 years of his life in a maximum security prison, Brandon pours the years of loss and sadness onto his canvases as a means of therapy. While his art is not hearts and flowers, it is raw and truthful. Art show attendees responded to his clear, individual, artistic voice.

This new year begins like years passed - with hope for Brandon's release. We love him and will never stop working on his behalf. Thank you, as always, for your emails of support and encouragement. They mean a lot to all of us.

Warmest regards,
Gene and Janice Hein

Visit Heinsight, an art store maintained by The Friends of Brandon Hein. Many of you have been asking for this and now you can view Brandon's work and purchase it on prints, stretched canvas, iPhone covers, tees, hoodies and more.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

September 18, 2012 Brandon's artwork

Hello Everyone,

This year has not been marked by legal appeals or even the hope of legal appeals as past years have been but that doesn't mean it hasn't been meaningful in other ways. We will never stop fighting to win Brandon's freedom. Meanwhile, he works hard to keep his spirits up on the inside and one of the things that has helped the most is that he continues to grow and develop as an artist. Art has saved him time and again because it is an outlet for his frustrations, his sadness and the loss that comes from spending nearly half his life in a maximum security prison. Brandon pours his heart into his drawings and paintings. Many of you have written to tell us that you want to see his work and to be able to buy it. We have good news for you.

Introducing Heinsight, an art store maintained by The Friends of Brandon Hein. Brandon's art is available to view and enjoy here. It is also available on prints, stretched canvas, iPhone covers, tees, hoodies and more. This is where we will load new pieces as he releases them. For more about what it means to Brandon to be an artist, please read his letter (located at the FROM BRANDON link at the top his website). He is very grateful for all of the support and encouragement he has received over the years.

Warmest regards,
Gene and Janice Hein

Follow Brandon on twitter @heinsightart

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Status Update: November 20, 2011

Hello Everyone,

Where have we been? It's been a long time since we've posted. Our last post had so much to say about how badly broken our courts and appeals systems are that it seemed to need its own time to speak. If you haven't read it, please do.

What now? Even though Brandon's last appeal was denied, we are still here quietly fighting hard for his release. We love Brandon and we will never give up. When we have anything we can share with you, we will. Until then, your emails and letters of support are more help than you can know.

How is Brandon? He's okay. He paints, he reads, he exercises. He tries to stay strong in the face of all the setbacks and disappointments. He is grateful for the love of family and friends to see him through each day that passes.

Thank you and warmest regards,
Gene and Janice Hein

Reminder: If you would like a personal reply from us please write to

Monday, May 30, 2011

Reflections, May 2011

The issue of remorse is a defendant's biggest no-win. A defendant who didn't do what they're accused of doing is in a double bind. Attorneys tell their clients not to contact the victim's families, fearing that what they say to them will be twisted and turned against them. In addition, expressing remorse in a court of law is the same as admitting guilt. The judge will punish them at sentencing for not showing remorse, which the defendants can't show because they didn't commit the crime. The victim's family will punish the accused, first for delaying contact with them until allowed by their legal representation and second, for expressing sorrow for their loss, rather than remorse for causing the death of their loved one.

Tony Miliotti:
Tony Miliotti was one of the teenagers there 16 years ago during the drunken brawl that ended the young life of Jimmy Farris. He was a quiet, artistic kid and all that could be said of him during what seemed like an endless trial, was that he was standing in the doorway when the fight broke out. Trusting the justice system to do the right thing, he turned himself in on his 18th birthday when there wasn't even a warrant for his arrest. Tony was given a sentence reduction in a subsequent appeal that enabled him to come up for a parole hearing in May of 2011. The day of his hearing, Mr. and Mrs. Farris and others attended and said that they didn't feel he had shown any remorse. The parole board denied Tony's appeal and he will have to wait ten more years for another opportunity. Tony will be forty-three years old at his next hearing. We send our love and support to him and to his family.

Gene spent the anniversary of Jimmy's death talking to classrooms full of teenagers in Bell, California. Each time he speaks to kids about the case, he hands out flyers with these words printed in big, capital letters: CHOICES, DECISIONS, COMMUNICATION, RELATIONSHIPS. The focus of Gene's talks, rather than on the injustice of Brandon's sentence, is on how choices can change lives forever. He tells them about the Felony Murder Rule and about how they may pay a terrible price for their decisions as well as the decisions of their friends. Brandon works behind the scenes with Gene, providing details of life in prison; sending word to them, through Gene, that prison is no place they ever want to be; that their own families are the ones who will love them always and stand by them in times of trouble. Gene pours his heart into each and every talk in the hopes that he will save other children and their families from loss.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

May 1, 2011 Petition for writ of certiorari denied

Hello Everyone,

Our apologies for such a long gap since the last update. In April of 2010 we wrote you to let you know that Brandon's last appeal was denied. While that truly was his last appeal, there was one more legal plea to be made, this time to the Supreme Court. The document is called a petition for a writ of certiorari and essentially asks the Supreme Court to review the decision of a lower court.

They denied the petition on April 21, 2011. We, and especially Brandon, had little faith in this last legal effort as the courts have failed him at every turn (though we did appreciate the work it took Brandon's attorney to file it). We are sad but not downhearted as we continue our planning for a campaign to ask for Governor Brown's help. As soon as we have more information we can share, we will post it here on Brandon's site for you.

Meanwhile, Brandon is doing okay. He continues to paint and exercise, and he has friends and loved ones in his life who are enriching his visits with laughter and caring. Brandon wants to update you personally and plans to write a new letter soon.

So, here we are in May 2011, nearly sixteen years after this nightmare began:

  • Brandon is 34 years old and has spent almost half his life in a maximum security prison for underage drinking and participating in a teenage brawl in which another boy was tragically, but unintentionally, killed.

  • His original sentence was reduced by former Governor Schwarzenegger from Life Without the Possibility of Parole to Twenty-nine years to Life. (Brandon must serve 85% of that sentence before he has a chance at parole.)

  • Brandon's story has been told around the world and so often we hear from supporters who ask, "Why is he still in prison? Why can't someone right this injustice?"
Soon we will be asking Governor Brown these questions. We will ask for your prayers and we will need your help. Thank you for staying with us, pushing us forward, giving us all hope.

Warmest regards,
Gene and Janice Hein

Reminder: If you have a more personal question, please email it to rather than posting it anonymously to the blog.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Jan 3, 2011 Gov. Schwarzenegger leaves office

Hello Everyone,

As you have probably heard by now, Arnold Schwarzenegger left office today. He did not make any further reductions in Brandon's sentence or any other sentences for this case. This in spite of a tremendous outpouring of cards and letters of support and hard work by those close to the case.

While we are disappointed in the Governor's decision, we are grateful for what he did do on Brandon's behalf. Our efforts during his last term resulted in the removal of the "without parole" portion of Brandon's sentence and that is a very big deal. Something we can all feel proud of and take comfort in.

Brandon will be 34 years old in February. We will never give up our fight to win his freedom. Thank you so much for taking this journey with us. We couldn't do it without you.

Please stay tuned for details about a new campaign directed to Governor Brown.

Warmest Regards,
Gene and Janice Hein

Sunday, November 07, 2010

November 7, 2010 Update on Brandon

It's been a while since we've updated you all. Brandon has spent the summer settling in at CSP/Lancaster. His move to this prison in LA County continues to be better for him and for us. More friends and family have been able to visit and best of all, the yard he is on has a hobby program. We purchase the supplies through the prison and Brandon is allowed to paint with oils, his favorite medium. In fact, two of his paintings (as well as those from other inmates on his yard) have been donated to the Catalyst Foundation for a benefit auction to be held at the House of Blues this month. For Brandon, painting is the best therapy in the world for what he has been through for the last 15 years and the life he is forced to lead every day.

Our writing campaign to Governor Schwarzenegger continues and we ask you to please write to him using the letter writing kit we've provided via the link on the home page. We have not heard any words of encouragement from his office but we have not let that dissuade us. We continue to write and ask him to please fully commute Brandon's sentence before he leaves office in January. If you haven't written to the Governor on Brandon's behalf, please do so now. If you have already sent a letter, please write again. Please help us to bring Brandon home.

Warmest regards,
Gene and Janice Hein