RAMON, 95 YEARS   Ramon, a
28-year-old father of two, was falsely arrested for a gang-related murder.
Ramon had no criminal history, was not at the scene of the crime, and was
picked up based on the detective’s matching description of an “average Hispanic
male” with a tattoo on his neck. Ramon was picked up at gunpoint at his work.
Ramon was completely innocent of these charges. 






  
  
   
  
    
  
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 Ramon’s family
came to De-Bug’s ACJP once Ramon was detained. On a weekly basis, the family
and supporting community members spent hours meeting and scouring over the
information they had against Ramon. The group found contradictory statements by
police and witnesses, glaring holes in the investigation, and identified how
the evidence actually pointed to Ramon’s innocence, rather than guilt. After
six months of detainment, the prosecutor then asked the judge to release Ramon,
and dropped the charges, “due to insufficiency of the evidence.”  Ramon was also granted a factual
finding of innocence, a rarely granted legal device
that can clear a person’s name and record, and the attorney who presented the
case said it was the first time in 25 years that he had been a part of one that
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  MARCELL, 94 YEARS, 4 MONTHS   The same day his daughter was born, Marcell was told he was facing a life sentence.  The extreme sentencing came from California's previous Three Strikes Law that was later changed by voters in November 2012.  ACJP Organizer Gail Noble worked with Marcell's family to create a social biography packet comprised of the young man's social history, support letters, photos of his life, and a description of his intention if allowed to return to his family.  The packet, through his court-appointed attorney, was given to the court for review when determining sentencing.  The life sentence went down to an 8 month county sentence -- the amount of time the charge would normally hold without 3 Strikes.  The defense attorney told ACJP, "That packet is the reason he is coming home." 

   
  DAVID, 264 YEARS   Rosie and her daughter Denise first came to our
ACJP meeting at East Valley Pentecostal Church when Rosie’s son and Denise’s
brother, David, was facing three life sentences for a crime he did not commit.
The private attorney the family hired said the best possible resolution of the
case would be for him to accept a plea deal of 7 to Life. Denise was fighting
cancer, and before David was detained, he was the main person helping Denise —
taking her to doctor appointments, getting medications, and her other daily
needs. Despite their medical issues, Rosie and her daughter would come to ACJP
meetings every week to see how they could help David fight for his freedom.
David and his family stayed united, removed the attorney.  They were able to get an attorney
appointed from the Public Defender’s Office, and worked with that attorney to
advocate for David. David was home with his family within a couple of months. 






  
  
   
  
    
  
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  ELVIRA, 10 YEARS   De-Bug’s ACJP joined up
with family, friends, and supporters of Elvira Zayas — a young community leader
in San Francisco to challenge her unjustified incarceration. Among her charges
were gang enhancements that exposed her to a maximum of 10 years.  De-Bug assisted the family and her
supporters in challenging her charges, attended rallies outside the courthouse,
and helped won her release to help her fight her case from outside jail.  Elvira ended up beating her case, and is
back home and in the community – continuing her important work as a queer youth
leader in San Francisco’s Mission District. 






  
  
   
  
    
  
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  JEYSSON, 74 years   For four
years, Jeysson fought deportation orders that threatened to separate him from
his wife Katya, and two children.  His mother, Luz, came to De-Bug to seek
community support. The criminal act that got Jeysson in the scopes of Homeland
Security was vandalism. As a younger man, Jeysson was a graffiti artist and had
pled to a felony charge of vandalism. Immigration and enforcement claimed that
vandalism is a ”crime of moral turpitude,” thus being a deportable offense,
even though Jeysson was a legal resident. 
Had his previous criminal defense lawyers informed him that a guilty
plea could lead to deportation, he may not have been in detention for four
years. But, after gaining community support to navigate through the complicated
nexus of criminal and immigration law, Jeysson did not plead guilty to his more
recent criminal charge.  The collective teamwork -- Jeysson, family, community, immigration attorney, and public defenders -- allowed Jeysson to ultimately beat both criminal charges AND THE DEPORTATION ORDER. He is now living at home and raising his children with his wife Katya.   






  
  
   
  
    
  
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  REBECCA, FOR SON JOSHUA, 66 YEARS (15 to life)   Joshua's case is a clear example of the blatant misuse of the California Gang Enhancement Laws.  Joshua is a member of an outstanding Latino family that has given generations of service to the San Jose community.  Following in those footsteps, Joshua, 24, is a loving son, brother, nephew, grandson, and friend.  He is a registered Emergency Medical Technician, a Mission College student studying to be a firefighter, no criminal background, and no history of violence.  Despite that, he faced a life sentence in a Level Four prison due to the misuse of the California gang enhancement laws.  Joshua was charged and convicted with home invasion robbery in 2006 and although he never even entered the home, he was charged under the Gang Enhancement Law as if he did.  His mother Rebecca came to De-Bug seeking support, and with her entire family and community behind her, Judge Bocanegra took the life sentence off the table, citing the incredible family and community support that organized on his behalf.
MARY, FOR BROTHER PAUL, 30 YEARS
  MARTHA, 2 YEARS   Martha, along with her brother Sergio, were facing
charges of resisting arrest and battery upon a police officer. The thick slew
of police reports described them being belligerent and uncooperative with the
police, thus prompting them to tase Martha and tase and beat Sergio to the
ground in front of their own home and families. 






  
  
   
  
    
  
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 They came to De-Bug a week after the incident. 
De-Bug members took video statements of Martha and other people at the house
who witnessed the incident, including Martha’s then 11-year-old sister who saw
the police tase Martha and Sergio.  Her father also recorded the incident.
 

 When Martha was arrested for the incident 4 months later,
De-Bug members immediately got in touch with her public defender to give her
all the information we collected earlier.  Because Martha had done so much work in the front-end of the case (such as writing her account of the incident, having witnesses memorialize what happened through video, and reading police reports), because her public defender was incredibly tenacious, and because her family and De-Bug were able to respond quickly when Martha was tased by the police and then subsequently arrested, Martha's charges were all dismissed in the interest of justice.
  BLANCA, FOR SON RUDY, 19 YEARS   After being detained by
police and forced to confess to a crime he did not commit, 15 year old Rudy was
charged with crimes that would have exposed him to 19 years. What complicated
this case – and why such allegations would not have been possible – is that he has struggled with mental
disability ever since he was born. His developmental issues are at the
level that he receives support and care from county agencies, and essentially
requires 24 hour supervision to function adequately. This is why the notion of
an “admission” seemed ridiculous.  After viewing the tape, it was clear
the officers were deliberately trying to take advantage of my son’s condition. 






  
  
   
  
    
  
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 Blanca came to De-Bug the very Sunday that Rudy was
taken into custody and placed in the worst unit that any juvenile could be
placed in due to the charges.  At De-Bug, we collectively discussed a
gameplan, and sent an email to the head of Juvenile Department of the Public
Defender’s Office to ensure that Rudy was being well-watched in custody and
represented properly.  At every
court date, Rudy’s family and community filled the courtroom.  This resulted in Rudy winning his
immediate release from custody and all charges dropped after four months of
fighting for his innocence.  Since
then, Blanca has come every Sunday to De-Bug, helping other families bring
their own loved ones home.
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