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.

Richard Jackson is FREE after serving 26 years of a life sentence for possession of stolen property!

In 1995, Richard was convicted of possessing a stolen motorcycle and sentenced to life under the Three Strikes law. After 26 years in prison, and over 5 years of litigation, he was finally re-sentenced and released—thanks to incredible work of our students, staff, reforms passed by voters (Proposition 36), and the office of new Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón!

We began representing Richard in December 2015, and have been fighting for his release ever since. Our incredible students Alyssa Wright (SLS ’19) and Max Shoening (SLS ’18) helped brief the case in Los Angeles County Superior Court. After years of research, briefing, expert witnesses, and litigation, we had a breakthrough when Gascón was elected District Attorney late last year and prosecutors agreed that Richard was entitled to relief. Six months later, Superior Court Judge William Ryan issued a 12-page opinion granting our re-sentencing petition and ordered Richard immediately released. 

Like so many of our clients, Richard grew up in a chaotic household, often taking responsibility for his siblings, including his developmentally disabled older brother. Starting at the age of five, he would help his father scavenge scraps at junkyards for money. When Richard was 11, he and his family became homeless, and he eventually started abusing drugs and alcohol.

Over the years in prison, Richard developed his artistic talents and became a prolific contributor to art magazines. He maintained close relationships with his daughters, Sarah, Melissa, Heather and Jennifer, and his sister Christena. He also suffered several tragedies while incarcerated, including his daughter Melissa’s nearly-fatal car accident and the passing of his wife, whose funeral he was unable to attend. 

After years of litigation, disappointments, and setbacks, Richard finally walked free from Solano State Prison and met at the gates by Gary Burt from the ARC Ride Home team. Richard’s first meal outside prison walls was chicken-fried steak, eggs and gravy, and pancakes. “Oh my God, I forgot how good real food tasted–it was delicious!” 

Richard was brought to a residential reentry program in Los Angeles, and Gary and the ARC team will stay in touch with him for continued support. In the next few days, Richard looks forward to reconnecting with his daughters in person, who can’t wait to give him a hug.

We couldn’t be prouder or happier—thank you for all your support!


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