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.


When our client Troy Barron was convicted of possession of cocaine in 1998, he received the mandatory minimum punishment under the federal Three Strikes Law: life without parole. The judge presiding over Troy’s case called his sentence “excessive,” lamented that “this is nothing I have control over,” and wondered if Congress would someday change the law to give Troy a chance at freedom.

Two years ago, Congress did just that, passing the First Step Act of 2018. And finally — last week- after serving over 20 years, a federal District Judge in Sacramento reduced Troy’s sentence to “time served,” and Troy walked free from the Federal Correctional Institution in Florence, Colorado.
He was put on a bus to Sacramento, where he was met by Ricardo London, a member of the award-winning Ride Home Program. Troy said the bus ride wasn’t easy, especially in a new world infected with a pandemic. He says his freedom seems “surreal” and that he’s deeply grateful to be given another chance. Troy and Ricardo enjoyed some coffee together before going to Troy’s family home in Sacramento, where he was reunited with his mother, aunt, uncles, cousins, and his grown son who haven’t seen him in years.

We couldn’t be prouder of our amazing team or happier for Troy and his family. Troy extends his deepest appreciation to the extended Three Strikes Project family and says he can’t wait to get started on returning to “normal” life.

IN OTHER NEWS:
We are very happy that a new crop of students will join the Three Strikes Project this week — and also welcome back to our amazing staff attorney Milena Blake, who was temporarily on maternity leave, and welcome baby Clare to the growing team!

Finally, for those interested in California policy developments, please join us this Thursday and Friday for the latest from the Committee on the Revision of the Penal Code, where we’ll be discussing extreme sentences, including gang enhancements, Three Strikes, and public safety related to long prison terms. Witnesses include Gov. Jerry Brown, Prof. Bob Weisberg, DA Jeff Rosen, and Obed Gonzalez, who will be testifying from inside the California City Correctional Facility, where he is currently serving a 33 year sentence as co-defendant in an attempted drug crime. (Full agenda, witness list, and Zoom instructions here.)

As always, I hope you’re all well and thank you for your continued support.
– Mike