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.

Dear friends and colleagues,

As we all struggled with another terrible year under the pandemic, 2021 was a remarkable time at the Three Strikes Project—thanks to yet another amazing group of students and our terrific staff, who outdid themselves again.

Here are some highlights from the past year:

18 Life Sentences Overturned

In courtrooms across California and all the way to Oklahoma, 18 of our clients were freed from life sentences imposed under the Three Strikes law for minor, nonviolent crimes. All are now home with their friends and families for the first time in decades!

Seven New Reforms Enacted

In partnership with the California Committee on the Revision of the Penal Code, we developed a series of reforms enacted into law by the California legislature and signed by Gov. Newsom, which together reduce punishment for thousands of people serving outdated sentence enhancements, reducing racial bias in “street terrorism” laws, and ending disparate punishment for people with mental illness.

Eight New Policy Proposals

Also in partnership with the Penal Code Committee, we helped develop new reforms for the coming legislative session with input from California Chief Justice Tani Gorre Cantil-Sakauye, Attorney General Rob Bonta, and dozens of other experts, and published comprehensive reports on crime rate trends and the administration of California’s death penalty, with new data and analysis from our partners at the California Policy Lab.

Three Partnerships with District Attorneys

We are designing and implementing novel programs with elected prosecutors in Los Angeles, Santa Clara, and San Francisco to revisit unnecessarily harsh prison sentences. We also joined litigation defending reform policies by LA District Attorney George Gascon, in partnership with UC Berkeley Law School Dean Erwin Chemerinsky, former U.S. Solicitor General Neal Katyal, Fair and Just Prosecution, and over 65 current and former elected prosecutors across the country.

Ten New Habeas Cases

For the past several months, our students have been hard at work researching and drafting petitions for 10 clients sentenced under the Three Strikes law for minor crimes, in violation of their rights to effective representation of counsel and contrary to constitutional prohibitions on excessive punishment. We intend to file these petitions early in the new year.

Thank You!

None of this would be possible without the generous support and encouragement of all the people receiving this email or the without the tireless work of our terrific staff, our incredible partner organizations, our generous funders, and of course our amazing law students. (You can see them below working on the other kind of “strikes”—with honorary teammates Earlonne Woods and John “Yahya” Johnson, from the Repeal Three Strikes Coalition and Ear Hustle Podcast.)

Here’s to more hope, happiness, and justice in 2022.

Thank you all, yet again!

– Mike

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