We [The Fire Inside] interviewed Kelly Savage, freed in Nov. 2018 after 23 years of an LWOP sentence. Kelly has been busy coordinating the Drop LWOP campaign since her release, as well as going to school and making a new life on the outside. Below is some of what Kelly shared with Fire Inside.
Q: What has been the most fun thing you have done since getting out?
KS: Being able to fly around the country and learn about all the different social media and networks that are so much fun. I loved trips to New Orleans, Atlanta and Minnesota where I learned so much about how to get the word out faster and better and do the networking.
Q: What was most surprising to you?
KS: Two things stand out the most. That there are so many organizations that are for us and are working for us that we inside prison just didn’t know about. And a GREAT tech tool is a Smart Pen that can translate spoken language and written text and drawings from the page of a notebook into a computer. It’s a great help for school and work and all. It’s amazing!!
Q: What has been hardest or most unexpected?
KS: Getting caught off guard about missing people inside so much that it hurts. I just didn’t realize how much I would miss all my family inside.
Q: What has given you the most joy?
KS: Just the little stuff— seeing trees, the water, anytime I can be anywhere near the ocean. Living near the beach—first at the program on Treasure Island and now in my own shared apartment in San Francisco—is amazing, cause I thought I would never see the ocean again. Now I see it all the time. Also, to feel the warmth of the love and community that I have been surrounded by since I got out. I count my blessings.
For folks just coming out: remember that you will have to ask to receive whatever help you might need, whether that is support and understanding, or looking for a resource since we don’t know what may be available. We may not know how to do online registration for jobs, for example, things that most people out here can’t imagine not knowing. People may want to help you navigate that, but they get busy, too, and may not see that you are struggling. It’s important to know that if you need support, you have to ask. There are other lifers, other LWOPs, who are out, and even if they are in a different county, they will be willing to help, but you have to ask.
Working for CCWP means that I can continue doing the work I was doing inside. I didn’t know for sure that I would be able to continue doing the kind of advocacy I did, like for domestic violence survivors. I needed to be realistic. Some might feel that when they finally get out, it’s time for them, for their “me” time. I don’t feel this way. I speak on behalf of my loved ones inside the way I would want someone to speak up for me. It’s great to have an opportunity to not only speak, but to do more: to send an email, or a picture of an event out here that can show them that there are a lot of voices out here, how much support that really is, what people are capable of doing, even if we may not know how to reach out to them from inside.
It doesn’t matter how much time you’ve done, what you did with your time, there is always hope. It’s worth it putting in your application for commutation. If it doesn’t work this time, it may the next. Working on yourself is always worth it. No matter any other outcome, getting to a place where you value yourself, you see what you want to do with your life whatever the circumstances, is a goal worth striving for.