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 are thrilled, proud, and grateful that TWO of our clients were granted clemency yesterday afternoon by Governor Newsom!

20 years ago, Robert Escareno was convicted of a string of robberies and sentenced to 185-years-to-life under the Three Strikes law. Despite no realistic hope that he would ever be released, Robert dedicated himself to sobriety and rehabilitation, eventually winning recommendations for clemency by the highest level of prison officials, the Board of Parole Hearings sitting en banc, and a majority of members of the California Supreme Court. In his grant of clemency, Governor Newsom stated, “This act of clemency for Mr. Escareno does not minimize or forgive his conduct or the harm it caused. It does recognize the work he has done since to transform himself.”
Rodney Henderson was sentenced to 40-years-to-life for robbery in 1997. During his 25 years behind bars, Rodney earned his GED and three college degrees. Based on his “exceptional conduct,” Rodney also won the support of prison officials, the Board of Parole Hearings, and the California Supreme Court before Governor Newsom issued him a reprieve that will result in his immediate release.

No fancy lawyering won these cases. Robert and Rodney earned their own opportunities for a new chance at freedom. They worked for decades when no one was looking, when the chances at parole were slim to none, and when conditions in California’s prisons were so dire that the U.S. Supreme Court found they violated the Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. 

It takes a special kind of perseverance and character to receive a life sentence and commit oneself to personal transformation under these circumstances. We are deeply grateful that the institutions in California and ultimately Governor Newsom recognized Robert and Rodney’s tremendous accomplishments.

Thank you all!

– Mike
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