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.
After serving 27 years for stealing a VCR, Michele was released from the Central California Women’s Facility—thanks to amazing work from Three Strikes Project student Rachel Glanz (‘21), Staff Attorney Milena Blake, and, most of all, by Michele herself who did a staggering amount of work to win her own freedom.
Michele was convicted and sentenced to life in prison, with an opportunity for parole after 40 years, under the Three Strikes law in 1996, despite never having committed a violent crime.
In prison, Michele committed herself to rehabilitative programs, although she had little realistic hope that she would ever be freed. But after decades of hard work, in 2019, the Dept. of Corrections was so impressed that they recommended her for a reduced sentence based on her exceptional record of rehabilitation, which the Secretary of Corrections personally certified was “so extraordinary beyond simply complying with all regulations and procedures” that Michele “changed as a person and would be a positive asset to the community” if immediately released from custody. Despite this rare re-sentencing recommendation from the highest levels of the prison administration, it still took over two years for Michele to win parole.
Michele, who is a Canadian citizen, was eager to return to her family there, and was picked up at the prison by immigration officials upon her release. Her brother and sister are anxiously awaiting her arrival in Niagara Falls, Ontario where she will also connect with a reentry program.
As with all of our cases, this was another team effort. Rachel did an outstanding job researching Michele’s case, background, and prison record, and briefing Michele’s case for release. Milena was Michele’s lead attorney, and our entire staff pitched in. We couldn’t be prouder of our team or happier for Michele and her family!
MORE GOOD NEWS:
We are also extremely happy and proud that the Department of Corrections Division of Parole profiled our former client, Edward Shell, in its official newsletter for his hard work and success returning to his community after bring freed from a life sentence.
After serving over two decades of a life sentence, Edward is currently a full-time bus driver in Los Angeles.
In 1997, Edward was sentenced to die in prison — 80 years-to-life — under the Three Strikes law for unarmed robbery. Almost exactly two years ago, after serving more than two decades behind bars, Edward’s life sentence was overturned in San Diego Superior Court, due in large part to his rehabilitative efforts behind bars.
In addition to his work as a bus driver, Edward is spending time reconnecting with his family after more than 20 years.
We wish him the best luck and continued success!