This story was originally published by Mother Jones and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.
Sika Eteaki lay in bed, shaking uncontrollably. The pillow and sheets were soaked through with sweat, but now he couldn’t get warm. It felt like there weren’t enough blankets in all of Lancaster State Prison to keep him warm.
Just a few months earlier, Eteaki had turned himself in for illegal possession of a firearm. He’d been arrested with a gun while driving back from a camping trip. He and his family had used the pistol for target practice, for fun, but a spate of nonviolent priors from the decade before had prosecutors threatening to put Eteaki away for years. Since those early arrests, Eteaki had turned his life around. He now had four kids under 5, a renewed faith in Mormonism, and steady work at a foundry. The prosecutor went easy, and after months of negotiation, Eteaki pleaded guilty to felony firearm possession and got eight months in Lancaster, on the outskirts of Los Angeles. In July 2010, Eteaki’s wife, Milah, drove him to the Long Beach courthouse, outside L.A., where he surrendered and entered the system.<... Read more