Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Petitioning Governor Jerry Brown Pardon for Sara Kruzan

Michael Juster Alcabideche, Portugal
Sara J. Kruzan is now 37 years old. Google and Youtube her story, but a few headlines; Sara grew up in a chaotic environment,surrounded by abuse and drugs. She was continuously abused and molested throughout her childhood. At 11 she was raped. At 13 she was gangraped, and forced into child sex trafficking throughout California. Her trafficker was 20 years older than Sara . At 16, under threats that her mother would be killed if Sara didn't comply with orders, she finally broke down, and shot her trafficker,her abuser, while he was getting ready to rape her once more! Sara's defence attorney called no witnesses during her 2 day trial. Sara was sentenced at 17, to Life without the possibility of parole! The judge later admitted in letters to the courts, that grave mistakes were made by him during the trial. Sara spent the next 19 years incarcerated. Convinced that she would die in prison, she still became a 'model inmate' helping other inmates, facilitating classes in prison, mentoring hundreds of students through letters, and creating a 'self help' programme that the CA parole board later found extremely impressive. Sara, through working long hours,every day while incarcerated, also paid off every cent of her 10.000 dollar fine to Victims Services.
Through a tiredless effort by her pro-bono team of lawyers, and public campaigning - but most of all, Sara's own efforts and impeccable behaviour, all parties, from the procecutors office, to the CA Supreme court and the then Governor, agreed that Sara's sentence was excessive. And that she deserved a parole hearing. That parole hearing took place in June 2013. All parties agreed, that society would be much better off, by finally letting Sara come home! Sara was paroled in October 2013. Since then, she has continued where she left off while incarcerated. She has been honored by The Berkeley Law school in CA, and by the Washington DC based,Campaign for the fair sentencing of Youth. She has given keynote speeches from coast to coast and continues to work for a more just Juvenile justice system. Just this month, Sara will speak in Utah, Washington DC,NJ,TX and be interviewed on ABC. She has mentored a highschool basketball team. She continues advocating for victims of child sex trafficking, volunteering and helping raise awareness on the horrible collateral damage that takes place, on juveniles within the prison system in California.
Sara has also become the mother of a wonderful little daughter.'s time for Sara to finally gain the freedom that you and I take for granted every day. Which is, not having to bear all the restrictions that continued parole puts on her! Sara's current restrictions have her on a 5 years to Life, parole. That means restrictions on where she can go, when she has to report for meetings, where she can apply for a job, etc etc.  This could be for life.  That is wrong and unjust.

Sara was a victim of abuse and injustice. She has put all that behind her and has for many years now proved, that she means it when she says, that she wants to better our society. Help our children avoid living the life that she was forced into as a child. She is doing just that, as we speak! Please, join me in this petition and ask Governor Jerry Brown of California, to finally grant her the pardon that she so much deserves. To let her off of all the restrictions, that being on parole puts on her. Please sign this petition.  Help Sara gain her full freedom.  The Governor of California will hear your voice. 

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Give Cyntoia Brown a fair trial as a minor as she should have had from the beginning

Cyntoia Brown is serving a life sentence in Tennessee Prison for Women for the murder of Johnny Allen. However, there is evidence to support that she did this in self-defense, she was 16 at the time of the incident AND was tried as an adult.There is also evidence to suggest that Cyntoia has some mental and emotional disorders as a result of being abused as a child. Please help her get a re-trial so that the mistake of giving her a life sentence can be corrected.
In 2004, Cyntoia Brown was arrested for murder. There was no question that a 43-year-old man is dead and that she killed him. What mystified filmmaker Daniel Birman was just how common violence among youth is, and just how rarely we stop to question our assumptions about it. He wondered in this case what led a girl — who grew up in a reasonable home environment — to this tragic end?
Me Facing Life: Cyntoia’s Story explores Cyntoia’s history and her future. Without attempting to excuse her crime as youthful indiscretion nor to vilify her as an example of a generation gone off the rails, Birman simply follows Cyntoia through six years of her life after the crime, and searches for answers to persistent questions.
In a world where children are finding themselves caught in the chaos and fear of abusive parents leading abusive lifestyles, is it any wonder so many children are finding themselves facing lengthy prison sentences.
Cyntoia Brown is one of these children, born into a life of parental drug and alcohol abuse, prostitution and eventually being placed in foster care.
She was influenced early on in life that the way to treat others was the way she herself was treated, that to survive prostitution was not a quick way to earn money but a survival tactic.
Society continually condemns and screams for change where children are physically and sexually abused, emotionally abused, it seems this very child commits a crime viewed as so heinous no one should reach out and try to save her.
Placing children in Adult Prisons has become a very matter of fact procedure in the court rooms of the US, placing them in situations of fear and abuse very much identical to the life they rebelled against on the street.
If a child commits a serious crime of cause they must be punished, but the focus should be on rehabilitative not retributive.
I'm asking for people to help this young lady that needs our help not to be further harmed to help her and get what is needed a fair re-trial as a youth since she was only a youth at the time at a mere 16 years old...if this unjust stays the way it is she wont be out till shes in her 60's that's a whole life wasted I know Cyntoia is sorry for what happened
Please lets help this young lady that has lived a hard life right from the get go and get her the fair re-trial she deserves as a youth
Letter to

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Prison Kids: What's it like being held in solitary confinement

Prison Kids: A Crime Against America's Children, we follow the stories
of kids who have been locked up and have suffered as a result of
America's broken juvenile justice system. Brian was incarcerated as a
minor. He says he was treated for post-traumatic stress disorder and
that he spent time in solitary confinement. Here, he opens up about the
effect it had on him, then and now.

Inside a jail for kids in Louisiana: A 360 experience

US incarcerates more children than any developed country on earth. In
this 360-degree tour of the Youth Study Center in New Orleans, you can
explore how juveniles live on the inside. Be sure to use your VR

This is what's wrong with our juvenile justice system

U.S. locks up more kids than any other developed country, but it's not
making our country any safer. Here's why our juvenile justice system is
broken and needs to be fixed.

Prison Kids: Juvenile Justice in America | Full Documentary

incarcerate children at a higher rate than any other developed country.
Kids make mistakes — sometimes large, sometimes small. And every day in
America, they can be locked up in stark, mismanaged hellholes and
marked for life.

Fusion traveled across the country, gathering
the stories of kids who grew up behind bars. We found children subjected
to solitary confinement; mental health problems; physical, mental, and
sexual abuse; racial inequities; lives ruined forever at an early age

Thursday, 22 October 2015

#YJAM: The Story of Keela Hailes, Juvenille Justice Advocate

This theme for this year's Youth Justice Awareness Month is, "The Power
of Sharing Stories". All month long CFYJ will share stories of youth and
family members that have been impacted by the adult criminal justice
system. This week we share the story of juvenile justice advocate, Keela

Keela is the mother of an incarcerated youth in the
adult prison system. Keela and her son moved to Anacostia in D.C. when
her son was 14 years old. Anacostia is located in Ward 8 of D.C. which
has a population composed of roughly 95% African-Americans and is also
the most impoverished ward with about 51% of its children living in
poverty. At 16 her son started hanging out with a different group of
friends, and his grades started slipping. One day she received a phone
call telling her that her son was arrested. She went to the juvenile
court where his hearing was to be taken place to look for answers.
However, being that this was her first experience with the system she
was confused when she noticed that there were adults in the same
courtroom that her son was to be brought in. After waiting about 40
minutes her son was presented alongside two other individuals. Her son
was being charged with armed robbery which came to a shock to her since
she had no idea what was happening. She tried asking the attorney what
was going on, but the attorney had little knowledge as well since she
was just appointed the case at that moment. When her son didn’t come
back out from the hearing she was informed that her son had been tried
as an adult and that he was to be held in D.C. jail. He was eventually
transferred to Wisconsin and then Devil’s Lake, North Dakota to serve
his sentence in adult prisons.

There was a period where Keela
had not seen her son for about a year and a half until she was given an
opportunity to fly out to see him. The Campaign for Youth Justice paid
for her flight and hotel and she was able to visit her son for a
weekend. When her son finally returned to D.C. he was not in the state
of mind to be relaxed. He was in an awkward stage because he knew he set
a bad example for his family and siblings. To be back in the community
that influenced him to take actions that eventually got him arrested was
one of the concerns that Keela had. He was eventually re-arrested in
2010. Keela saw that the community needed more resources to help youth
so she started working with Free Minds, a book club/writing workshop for
youth detained as adults. Keela worked with young adults who were out
of prison looking to re-enter society, and she tried helping them with
resources for housing, job readiness and anything they needed. The way
she puts it, “I would want someone to do the same thing for my son.”

Friday, 9 October 2015

#YJAM: The Story of Juan Peterson- Juvenile Justice Advocate

grew up in Washington, D.C., in a section of town that is plagued by
violence. His father was in and out of jail, so he grew up primarily
with his mom and younger brother. He was never a “problem” child, and
didn’t get into trouble until his mid-teens. At 16, police went into his
home at night to arrest him for an armed robbery carjacking. He awoke
to the barrel of a rifle pointed at him. As he was being taken into
custody, he remembers that he was afraid of the “unknown”. He was left
in the dark with no lawyer, not knowing what was going on, and no
communication with his family. When he went to court, he admitted to
knowing about a possible carjacking that one of his friends or
acquaintances committed, but he was never there. This was enough to try
him as an adult with a conspiracy conviction, which sentenced him to
eight years in adult prison. He was transferred far from his family in
D.C. first to Montana, then to Washington State, Utah, California and
finally Virginia.

“Getting out was the easy part, staying out is
hard,” he recalls. There is no exit procedure from prison, no
psychological evaluation, no assessment of education or career skills,
or assessment of whether he had a home to return. Juan received a
promise that he needed to find a job or he would be put back in prison.
However, getting a job was difficult due to his record. He could not
get a job as a warehouse worker, which he was more than qualified for.
He had fifty seven job interviews before he was given an opportunity
somewhere. Now he works at a hospital and volunteers with a group called
Free Minds Book Club and Writing Workshop. Free Minds is an
organization that offers resources to youth incarcerated as adults. The
resources they provide range from job readiness training, outlets for
creative expression, violence prevention outreach and more. The unique
aspect of Free Minds, is that some volunteers, like Juan, have formerly
been incarcerated and can youth who are incarcerated a positive example
to follow. They show that there is potential in everyone and that there
is still room to have a positive impact on the community.