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Bucket List Wish Fulfilled

PhD student Ralph Spinelli is in the last stages of terminal cancer, but his bucket list just got a little shorter.

The 74-year-old doctoral student and advocate for criminal justice reform had dreamed of meeting Jack Nicklaus to thank him for being a long-time inspiration. Ralph wrote to the golf legend and was invited, with his son, on an all-expense paid trip to Dublin, Ohio for the Memorial Tournament, which Jack Nicklaus founded. 

“I wanted to shake his hand and thank him for all the inspiration,” says Ralph, who was able to spend nearly two hours with his host. “We talked about everything except golf. We talked about our values and the importance of discipline.”

Ralph is the author of Prison as Punishment, which chronicles his personal experience within the criminal justice system (he served two terms in state penitentiaries for organized crime) and makes policy recommendations based on his doctoral research. He has also taught on criminal justice at St. Mary’s College.

Despite his terminal diagnosis, Ralph continues his passionate advocacy for criminal justice reform. He is scheduled to speak at the CA-NV American Correctional Health Services Association in October.