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.

Dennis Bryley is free!

Sentenced to life in 2009 for a robbery where no one was physically injured, Dennis went to prison committed to helping others. After years of hard work, his life term was recalled by a Los Angeles Superior Court judge who said Dennis was a poster child for California’s “second-look” sentencing law and ordered him immediately released.

While incarcerated, Dennis sought amends for the harm he caused. He volunteered as a “gold coat,” a prison program that pairs highly trained and trusted people who are incarcerated with other incarcerated people who have dementia to help them with daily living behind bars. Dennis’ commitment and personal transformation won respect and admiration of prison officials, and eventually the Secretary of the Department of Corrections, who formally recommended his early release under California’s “second look” resentencing law late last year.

Upon the Secretary’s recommendation, and a review of Dennis’ exemplary prison record, both the Los Angeles District Attorney and Superior Court Judge agreed that Dennis’ original life term should be recalled and that he had earned a new chance at life outside of prison. Judge Gregory A. Dohi said it was an honor to meet Dennis and offer him a new chance at freedom.

After years behind bars, Dennis walked free from the prison gates in Corcoran and was met by Carlos Cervantes, founder and director of the Anti-Recidivism Coalition’s Ride Home program. Their first stop was a breakfast of steak and eggs, and their second stop was for tacos. (Dennis was making up for lost time!) Eventually, Carlos brought Dennis at his residential reentry program in Los Angeles, where he’ll begin his journey back to the free world, and, best of all, reunite and catch-up with his two granddaughters.

This was another huge team effort. We’re grateful to our amazing staff, including lead attorney Milena Blake, plus the corrections officers, prosecutor, and judge who all agreed to give Dennis another chance. But most of all, this victory belongs to Dennis himself, who committed himself to helping others and rehabilitating himself when the rest of the world had given up on him and there was little realistic hope that he would ever walk free again.

We couldn’t be happier.

Thank you all!

– Mike

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