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.
We are thrilled to announce that our client, Ronald Arthur, was released from prison after serving 22 years for stealing an unlocked bicycle from the entrance of a convenience store in Los Angeles!
If convicted today, Ronald would receive misdemeanor and a maximum sentence of 30 days in county jail.
Instead, Ronald was sentenced to life under the Three Strikes law in 1999. When the Three Strikes Reform Act took effect in 2012, Ronald first filed to win his freedom. Prison authorities evaluated Ronald as “low risk” to reoffend, prison work supervisors wrote that Ronald was “a self-motivated worker who has a non-stop attitude until the job is done, and done well;” and he had the best-possible prison security score due to his positive disciplinary record. Ronald is also now almost 60 years old. Still, prosecutors in Los Angeles maintained he was an imminent threat to public safety and opposed his release for almost a decade.
After 8 years of litigation the Los Angeles Superior Court finally granted our petition under Proposition 47, vacated Ronald’s life term, re-sentenced him to a misdemeanor with over 21 years’ credit for time served, and ordered him immediately released.
Of course we couldn’t be happier for Ronald or prouder of Project student Dan Brenner (SLS ‘19), who met with Ronald in prison, researched his case, and drafted the main pleadings filed in court. Our whole team did an outstanding job.
Ronald was finally released Friday night from the RJ Donovan Correctional Facility outside San Diego. Our Ride Home Project driver arrived at the prison gates that morning to pick him up. But after waiting all day, was informed at 6pm that Ronald tested positive for COVID-19 and would be taken by special transport to quarantine housing. After completing quarantine, Ronald will go to Amity Foundation’s reentry program where he will receive comprehensive support, resources, and medical and mental health care he needs to finally reintegrate into society — just in time for the holidays!
MORE GOOD NEWS:
First, we are also very happy to report that two more of our clients, Robert Escareno and Rodney Henderson, have been advanced for clemency by Governor Newsom. Yesterday that process cleared an important hurdle when Project staff Attorney Milena Blake appeared before the Board of Parole Hearings and won approval to continue the clemency process. Because they were convicted under the Three Strikes law, their cases now move to the California Supreme Court, which must give final approval of the Governor’s clemency. We will keep fighting and remain hopeful for their eventual freedom.
Second, we are also very happy that George Gascón was just elected District Attorney for Los Angeles County, and Susan and I are on his transition team to help facilitate a new era in the largest prosecution office in the country.
Finally, this is a time of year when we all reflect on family and what we are grateful for. We at the Project have had a great run this year—and we are extremely proud and grateful and proud that FOURTY-FOUR of our individual clients were freed from life sentences this year, under various forms of relief won in state and federal courts. This was a tremendous team effort, thanks to our amazing staff and lots of credit due to the hard work of our clients. We are also reminded that so many more people needlessly remain behind bars, and we will keep fighting for them and hope for more great success in 2021!
I hope you all have a wonderful (and safe!) Thanksgiving!
Thank you for all your support.