Joseph Bell Jr.
Story Spotlight: Resentencing Recipient
Joseph Bell Jr. is a Peer Support Specialist for the Felton Institute, providing coaching, behavioral interventions, substance dependency services, and education to justice system-involved individuals. He dedicates special time to his parents and plays a role of encouragement to others in his family. “It’s my hope that I am an inspiration for higher education and spiritual growth.” While incarcerated, he was a member of a group of both prisoners and officers focused on keeping young people out of prison. He also started an at-risk youth diversion program called Education, Diversion, and Goals to Endeavor (EDGE) and earned an associate’s degree in social science.
Joseph is also a member of the NLC (National Life Without Parole Leadership Council) sponsored by Human Rights Watch, where he advocates for the elimination of the sentence of life without the possibility of parole.
In 1995, he was convicted of murder and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. Joseph's remorse for his crime and resulting failure to be present in his son’s life caused him to turn his life around.
In 2018, the California Governor recognized Joseph’s personal transformation and commuted his sentence, giving him the opportunity for parole. Near simultaneously, the district attorney in the county where Joseph had been convicted chose him to be one of the first people resentenced under a new law allowing release in the interest of justice. After serving nearly 25 years in prison, he was paroled.
Joseph believes leading well means having the wisdom to listen to others: “Effective leaders are those who know when and how to follow.”