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’re extremely happy that our client Alwin Smith is finally free after his life sentence was recalled and he was ordered immediately released by the Riverside County Superior Court!

Alwin was convicted over 20 years ago and sentenced to life under the Three Strikes law. His sentence was ultimately rescinded when both the department of corrections and district attorney’s office agreed that his life-term was no longer warranted or “in the interests of justice” based on his exceptional rehabilitation programming while incarcerated.

Over the past two decades, Alwin had little realistic chance he would ever be freed from prison, but he dedicated himself to rehabilitation, addressing not only his own issues with substance abuse, but also becoming a facilitator and mentor for others in recovery. Prison staff recognized his hard work and service others and recommended him for early release. The recommendation passed up several layers of review, including the warden, and ultimately the Secretary of Corrections. After reviewing our briefing, Mr. Smith’s overwhelming record of rehabilitation, and learning that the victim of Alwin’s crime supported his release, the district attorney joined in our motion—which was ultimately granted by the court.

Alwin walked free from state prison in Soledad and was met at the gates by Moses Gallegos of the Anti-Recidivism Coalition’s Ride Home Program. After picking up a few things to help get Alwin started (plus a Frappuccino!), Moses escorted Alwin to his residential reentry program in Southern California.

Alwin is excited to get reacquainted with the world and spend time with his family – particularly his mother, daughter and granddaughter who are all eager to have him home. 

This was another team victory—beginning with Alwin’s unbelievable perseverance—and also impossible without terrific contributions from students, staff, supporters, and our amazing Staff Attorney Milena Blake who led our litigation on Alwin’s behalf!

Many thanks to you all!

– Mike