A Vision of What Realignment Could Be

As counties across California scramble to implement plans for realignment, in Santa Clara County, one humble program born from the opportunity of realignment is taking off. In this picture Steeda McGruder, founder of Sisters That Been There, reads through a butcher paper full of quotes from recently released women who are participating in her program through the auspices of the county probation department. The quotes are from larger writings the women did on messages they would send out about their hopes and challenges for their new lives free of incarceration. The women range in ages of 59 to 22 years old. Powerful work, be on the look out for more work from Sisters That Been There! (click here to check out the video when Steeda shares how she was inspired to create the program while incarcerated.)

Illinois Governor Proposes Closing SuperMax Prison!

Congrats to our friend Laurie Jo Reynolds, and the rest of the Tamms Year Ten Committee, for their tremendous victory! Check out the story reported by the Belleville News-Democrat and Associated Press.– Post submission by Raj Jayadev

BY BETH HUNDSDORFER – News-Democrat — Gov. Pat Quinn has proposed closing the state’s only supermax prison — the Tamms Correctional Center in Southern Illinois, the Associated Press reported Tuesday. The approximately 200 inmates held at Tamms live in nearly continuous solitary confinement, the Belleville News-Democrat reported. The prison was built in 1998. The BND published an investigative series in August 2009 reporting that many inmates at Tamms were mentally ill and became worse because of long-term solitary confinement in the prison located in the southern tip of Illinois. It holds inmates the state describes as the “worst of the worst.” Read More…

KALW News: How Wrongful Convictions Happen, Interview with the Innocence Project

Check out the Q and A by KALW reporter Rina Palta as she sits down with Linda Starr of the Northern California Innocence Project. In the interview (also in audio form) Starr speaks about the commons reasons for wrongful conviction, and highlights the case of Maurice Caldwell who was released in March of 2011 after 20 years of incarceration for a crime he didn’t do. We had the honor of meeting Maurice at an Innocence Project  function — he, and the Innocence Project, inspire us deeply.

“We Know We Will Bring Our Son Home.”

About two weeks ago, Veronica and her family camped outside a juvenile detention facility hoping that their son won’t be picked up by immigration officials after he was placed on an ICE hold. However, to their dismay, ICE officials came.  In this picture, Veronica, the mom on the left, and Adriana (her sister on the right) waits in an attorney’s office right outside the ICE detention facility in San Francisco.  They were hoping that their son would be released to them right then and there and were waiting for a hearing, when Veronica got a phone call from her son that ICE had already put him on a bus and was an hour away heading to Sacramento.  As of now, they are still awaiting a decision of whether their son can return to the family as he fights his deportation case.  The words in the title of this post were spoken by Patricia, another aunt who would drive 8 hours from Riverside to attend her nephew’s court dates.  With the family’s perseverance and community support, we know this family will bring their son back.

A Father Takes One More Step Towards Finding His Kids

This may not look for much, but this worn packet of disheveled papers held together by a rubber band is actually the key to one of our ACJP members getting his kids back. They were taken from him, without consent or notice, while he was incarcerated. When he got out of prison, they were gone, with no state or county agency giving him any information on where they are, or how they are doing. He has been on a mission ever since, undeterred by the bureaucratic obstacles in his way. This packet is from his former public defender, and may contain the papers he needs to reach his kids. It took months to receive, and he’s now one step closer. We took the picture as soon as he got it, memorializing history in the making.

San Jose Mercury News: Santa Clara County DA program aims to boost reliability of eyewitness identifications

According to the Innocence Project, eyewitness misidentification is the single greatest cause of wrongful convictions nationwide, playing a role in more than 75% of convictions overturned through DNA testing. Implementing this program is a step in the right direction to make sure that justice can be properly carried out.  Submission post by Charisse Domingo


By Tracey Kaplan
02/04/2012 06:40:08 AM PST

To boost the reliability of eyewitness identifications, every police department in Santa Clara County has recently begun videotaping or recording most witnesses as they pick out a suspect from a set of photos or a live lineup.

The practice, spearheaded by District Attorney Jeff Rosen, is the latest technique law enforcement agencies across the nation are using to try to reduce wrongful convictions. In the Bay Area, police in San Francisco, Oakland and Pleasant Hill are among those who also have adopted it.

But Santa Clara County is believed to be the only county in the state where every police agency from the Highway Patrol to campus officers at San Jose State has signed a protocol agreeing to it.

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Sixth Annual “Beyond the Bench Conference” Empowering Families, Engaging Parents

James Bell, Founder of the Haywood Burns Institute

ACJP organizer Gail Noble was invited to the Santa Clara County “Beyond the Bench Conference” a convening of juvenile justice court practitioners and advocates. She reports back on the event that both described the uphill battle to bring a new mind frame to youth incarceration, as well as some hopeful signs of changes to come.

By Gail Noble: The Sixth Annual Beyond the Bench Conference Empowering Families, Engaging Parents was held at Saint Claire Hotel Downtown San Jose, February 3, 2012. The conference room was filled with Public Defenders, District Attorneys, Probation Officers, City Council Officials,  Community Organizations, and Parents.
The Host of the event Beyond the Bench was Judge Patrick Tondreau, who has been the Presiding Judge of the Juvenile Justice System. In the year 2009 Judge Tondreau began to put in motion the concept of the “Model Court.” Continue reading