Mary DeWitt Painting
write the PA Board of Pardons by mail to the address below:
To: c/o Pardons Secretary Celeste Trusty
the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons
333 Market Street 15th Floor
Harrisburg, PA 17126
March 6, 2022
To the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons:
I am writing a letter on behalf of Ms. Cyd Berger, identified by Pennsylvania State Corrections as #OO6896. She has endured 42 years of a life-sentence without parole. She was a severely battered woman whose abuser committed the murder, forcing her to participate.
I have known Ms. Berger since 1988 when I began teaching painting at SCI Muncy. We have collaborated consistently since that time. I record her thoughts and paint her portrait with the goal of bringing her much deserved visibility.
I have witnessed her manage, with grace and integrity, situations that anyone would characterize as unbearable. I have seen her steady kind manner in every activity she undertakes. Her work with Canine Partners for Life is such an example. Our magnificent dog, Scarlet, hails from that program, where Cyd Berger was one of the most caring and able leaders.
At her 2021 hearing, the victim’s family was allowed to speak at length while her advocates were not. The victim’s family’s statements were not true.
I feel that Ms. Cyd Berger has attained a level of awareness that few of us will realize. And I know that I am not alone in this assessment of a truly great individual. She has suffered 42 years of an unjust sentence.
My prayer is that the upcoming hearing will be just, which will inevitably result in her long deserved freedom.
December 2, 2021
To The Pennsylvania Board of Pardons:
Below, please see a copy of the September 23 letter I wrote to you on behalf of Cyd Berger's release.
What do members on the Board of Pardons do when a victim’s family misrepresents the truth? John Fetterman responded to the situation appropriately when he deflected the victim family member’s praise to the Board for listening. He simply responded in effect to say that this was not a favor but part of the process. And he voted for Cyd Berger’s pardon. He did what was true. He saw through the manipulation.
Cyd Berger was not the mastermind behind the murder committed by her abuser. This is a lie. Why didn’t her supporters have an opportunity to speak during the hearing after the victim’s family spoke at length? Why would the institution not support Cyd Berger, someone who has been an asset, an inspiration as a prisoner for over forty years?
This is a horrific ongoing abuse of power. At another of Cyd Berger’s hearings in the early 1990’s, one of her sisters confided that the victim’s family was both racist and deeply ashamed of the circumstances around the victim’s death.
To those of you on the Board of Pardons who voted against Cyd Berger's release, you supported a lie and you devastated a great soul. To demonize and scapegoat her and deflect from the truth, to allow this injustice to continue for over forty years, is a serious crime in itself.
September 23, 2021
To Whom It May Concern:
I am writing a letter in support of the release of Ms. Cyd Berger.
I was the Director of the Pennsylvania Prison Society Arts and Humanities Program from 1990-1992. I directed a program and advocacy for life-sentenced women then. Today, my close relationship with Cyd Berger continues. Of all of the women I met, Cyd Berger was among the most outstanding. Her consistent grace and kindness, even when challenged by numerous incidents of cruelty and injustice for over forty years, shows her brilliance. She’s the real deal.
I believe that there are serious karmic consequences for keeping her and legions of lifers incarcerated for political purposes or because of a flawed victim's advocacy program. It is essential to identify vengeful irrational family members of victims and discredit, not enable, their mission to keep deserving people trapped in prison.
It is the role of those given this serious power to pardon to meticulously differentiate the credibility of victims' family members so that real justice can be served. You have been given a very solemn responsibility to the collective to be courageous and truthful.
I witnessed the vindictive behavior of victims' family members first hand at Pennsylvania Board of Pardon Hearings for Cyd Berger and others in the 1990's. At that time, I was in training to represent women serving life-sentences under the instruction of Pardon's Case Manager Harvey Bell.
It is unconscionable that Cyd Berger is still incarcerated. She was a severely battered woman under severe duress. Continuing to punish her is a violation of everything that is just and true.