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.


We are very excited and proud to announce two new victories:

First, after spending 20 years behind bars, Lynden Owens, had his life sentence recalled in Santa Clara Superior Court, and he walked out of prison on Monday.

Lynden was sentenced to 45-years-to-life years under the Three Strikes law for a nonviolent burglary in 1999. Despite not having any realistic hope for release, Lynden made substantial progress towards his rehabilitation and engaged in vocational training and community programs over his decades behind bars. So much so that Santa Clara District Attorney Jeff Rosen agreed that Lynden’s continued incarceration was “no longer in the interests of justice.”

Lynden was met at the prison gates by members of the Ride Home Program and the Ahimsa Collective. Lynden was too nervous and excited to eat for over a week, after he was told that he was being re-sentenced. Fortunately, they provided Lynden with his first meal of freedom, took him to Starbucks (“Wow! this is a lot stronger than Folger’s instant,” Lynden later told us), and took him for a stroll along the river before bringing him to a long-term reentry program in San Jose.

Second, Andre Hawkins also had his sentence vacated and he was released under the new collaboration between the Three Strikes Project and the District Attorney in San Francisco. The collaboration identifies prisoners (mostly Three Strikers) who would not receive the same sentence if convicted today and works with prosecutors, courts, and public defenders to reduce their sentences. 

As Andre walked out of San Francisco County Jail a free man, the Ahimsa Collective was there to meet him, take him out for some delicious pizza, and then bring to a long-term reentry program in Berkeley.

We couldn’t be happier for Lynden and Andre and their families, or prouder of our whole team—students, attorneys, and support staff—who make these victories possible. We want to extend special appreciation to San Francisco DA Chesa Boudin and Santa Clara DA Jeff Rosen for agreeing to revisit these old cases and collaborating with us to give deserving people another chance at freedom.

Sincerely,

Mike