I will post information from several internet sources about James Tramel, a juvenile offender who became an Episcopalian Priest. His story is a very disturbing case.
The Reverend James Tramel will be the next rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in San Francisco.
INTERNET SOURCE: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Tramel
James Tramel (born c. 1967) is an Episcopal priest who was ordained while serving prison time for murder, and the first convict ever ordained in the Episcopal Church while still in prison. Soon after being paroled from prison in 2006, he became rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in San Francisco. He has been a public spokesman for prisoners' rights, testifying in favor of parole for juvenile offenders and supporting prisoner-victim reconciliation programs.
Tramel was 17 years old and attending Northwestern Preparatory School, a private military preparatory academy in Santa Barbara. He had been nominated to the United States Air Force Academy by Senator Barry Goldwater. On August 3, 1985, Tramel participated in the fatal stabbing of a 29-year-old transient in a park in Santa Barbara, mistaking his identity for that of a rival gang member. Tramel and his then-roommate were both sentenced to a mimimum of 15 years in prison for second-degree murder. While in prison he took correspondence courses, earning an undergraduate degree in business and a master's degree in theology. He was ordained in 2005, while still an inmate at Solano State Prison, by Bishop William E.Swing.
Swing harshly criticized Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2004 when the governor denied Tramel's parole, calling Schwarzenegger "a 90-pound moral weakling". In March 2006, Schwarzenegger reversed his decision and paroled Tramel.
Immediately upon his parole, Tramel began serving as an assistant pastor at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Berkeley, California. On the following February he left to become rector of Trinity Church.
In July 2008, he was suspended for two years from his ministry for alleged sexual misconduct with a parishioner.
INTERNET SOURCE: http://www.teenkillers.org/index.php/myths-about-the-juvenile-life-sentence/dangerous-early-release/bizarre-story-james-tramel/
The Bizarre Story of James Tramel
James Tramel of San Francisco illustrates one of the more serious aspects of the problems of teen killers in our society. Even when they appear to make a model recovery, things often go seriously wrong.
Mr. Tramel served two decades in prison for his role in a murder when he was 17 years old. He was convicted of 2nd degree murder and served a 15 years to life sentence, where he was ultimately paroled.
When he and others talked about his crime, passive tense and minimizing language was used. Examples: “Tramel was involved with a murder” instead of “Tramel was an accomplice to murder.” And we have yet to read anything where he takes full responsibility for his crime and its impact on the primary and secondary victims.
An Advocate for Teen Killers
Upon his release he had become an Episcopalian Priest, and took up the ministry at a church in San Francisco. He became active against long terms of incarceration for teen killers, not surprisingly, and was honored by public praise for his reformed life and testifying before the California legislature in support of Senator Leland Yee’s bills attempting to retroactively end life sentences for teen killers (JLWOP – Juvenile Life Without Parole). Ending JLWOP and advocating for teen killers became a big part of his ministry.
But then scandal broke out in 2008 and the Episcopalian Church had to suspend him for sexual misconduct in his parish.
Episcopal Church Under Fire for Parolee Priest
Murderer who was ordained has been suspended for sexual misconduct with parishioner
July 18, 2008|By Matthai Kuruvila, San Francisco Chronicle Religion Writer
James Tramel meets some of his parishioners. James Tramel has been imprisoned for 18 years for 2nd degree murder. While imprisoned Tramel was ordained, and reached Episcopal Church of the Good Shepard parishioners via telephone 4 times per year. Now Tramel is paroled, and meets in person his parishioners at a reception. Photo taken on 3/12/06, in BERKELEY, CA. By Katy Raddatz / The San Francisco Chronicle
Credit: Katy Raddatz
James Tramel went from convicted murderer to priest while in prison, a transformation that the Episcopal Church used to successfully lobby for his parole and celebrate him before politicians and the press.
But the church is now grappling with the sexual abuse of a parishioner under his care. Tramel has been suspended for sexual misconduct, temporarily stripped of his priestly authority and left searching for a new job.
The San Francisco-based Episcopal Diocese of California now faces questions of whether, in its haste to proclaim Tramel’s story, it redeemed and promoted him too quickly.
Convicted of second-degree murder in a 1985 slaying, Tramel went to seminary and was ordained a priest while incarcerated in a state prison in Solano County. After he was paroled early in 2006, at the urging of the Episcopal bishop of California, Tramel was quickly placed at the helm of the historic Trinity Episcopal Church in San Francisco.