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Angeles County | Community News File / South-Central

First-Time Author Writes About Prison Experience

June 04, 1998

There will be no stops at the Barnes and Noble in Old Pasadena on this book tour.

No lines of adoring fans will snake out of Book Soup to clog the sidewalks of the Sunset Strip.

But people have been showing up in droves at Los Angeles' tiniest bookstores to see first-time author Melvin Farmer, one of the few people in California to get a three-strikes conviction overturned.

Farmer's autobiographical book, "The New Slave Ship--A Ship That Does Not Sail" tells the story of a twice-convicted felon who is found guilty once again, this time for possession of less then a gram of cocaine in 1994. He was sentenced to 34 years to life.

Farmer says the drug was planted because of his notoriety as a gang leader in the 1970s. He served three years and eight months before a state appeals court judge overturned the conviction because of an illegal search of the house that Farmer was staying at in Madera County.

The book details the everyday drudgery of prison life and urges youths to stay out of trouble.

"The message to the young people is to obey their parents, stay out of gangs, and to love one another," said Farmer, who was one of the founding members of the Eight Tray Gangster Crips.

Rosie Milligan, author and owner of Express Yourself, a small South-Central bookstore, applauds Farmer's work.

"If it was between Melvin Farmer and Rev. Jesse Jackson to reach out to young people, I'd vote for Melvin," said Milligan. "Melvin has lived that life and made a remarkable turnaround."

For more information on the book, call (213) 750-3592.

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