CRIME STORY has received permission to re-print Michael Romano‘s newsletters from Stanford Law School’s Three Strikes Project whose mission is to reverse the most unjust criminal sentences. Romano and his colleague Susan Champion were interviewed by Amanda Knox for CRIME STORY and you can find the podcast and the transcript of that interview here. You can find a story about Romano’s participation in a U.S. Congressional field hearing on criminal justice reform here. You can find past issues of Romano‘s newsletter here.

Hi all!

We are thrilled to announce that TWO more of our clients had their sentences reduced and were released from prison last week!

Last Monday, Harold Dampier walked out of FCI Lompoc and into freedom after having served almost 21 years in prison under the federal version of the Three Strikes law. In 1998, he was sentenced to 30 years for possession of cocaine, a much harsher sentence than he would have received today. During his time in prison, Harold took over 65 rehabilitative classes and completed additional vocational training courses in construction, electrical systems, and vehicle repair. Harold was greeted at the prison gates by his wife, Donna Dampier, who brought him home. 

This all would not have been possible without the hard work of our outstanding law student, Robert Meyer (SLS ’21) who drafted Harold’s successful petition for relief under the First Step Act.

Michael Wortham is now also a free man after serving 22 years of his 39-to-life sentence for stealing $9 from a storage company and fleeing in the victim’s car in 1996.While in prison, Michael demonstrated a record of consistent excellence and dedication to bettering himself and others. Besides holding numerous jobs in prison, Michael also served as a mentor to other inmates who credit him with their own turn towards rehabilitation. On May 15th, he walked out of San Quentin State Prison and was met at the gates by Eugene Dey, a former three-striker himself and now a member of ARC’s Ride Home program, who welcomed Michael to freedom, brought him to his first meal as a free man (a massive, but socially-distant double-cheeseburger), and dropped him off at his longterm reentry program where he will be introduced to a new life and receive the help necessary to reintegrate into society.

A special shoutout to our Staff Attorney, Milena Blake, who, despite the difficulties of holding hearings due to the pandemic, argued for Michael’s release by telephonic hearing. 

These are especially difficult times for people behind bars, and we couldn’t be happier for our clients and their loved ones who are now free. We have many other clients whose cases we continue litigating and hope to share more good news with you soon. We also appreciate that there are thousands of others who unnecessarily remain behind bars. 

As we work on systemic reforms to California’s justice system, please tune in to the next meeting of the Committee on the Revision of the Penal Code, June 24rd at 9:30am (Zoom link and more info posted here).

I hope you’re all well in these strange and difficult times. Thanks, as always, for your continued support and encouragement.

– Mike

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