“Prison Was Your Nightmare, This Home is Your Reality” — Photos of the First Day of Freedom from Prison

The young man spent 3 1/2 years in a California State prison. His mother Veronica started coming to De-Bug’s ACJP about 4 years ago and our community supported her advocacy for her son. Together we attended court, met with the attorney, and created a social biography video that allowed her to show the judge why she was fighting so hard for her son. He was facing much more time.  She has been waiting for his moment coming home since then. She picked him up from prison in the morning, and held a family welcome home party that very night. He told her,  “Mom, I can’t believe I’m home. This is like a dream,” he said as their car pulled up to his aunt’s house where about 30 of his family members waited. She responded, “No, son. Prison, that was your nightmare, and this…” she points to his family and friends, “this is your reality.” (Photos by Charisse Domingo)



Veronica’s son bows his head in prayer as his cousin, a pastor at a local church, leads the family in a special blessing. This is his first day home after 3 1/2 years in prison.


Veronica gathers the entire family at her sister’s home to welcome her son on his first day back. After this, they watch the social biography video that De-Bug created to ask the judge for leniency in sentencing.


Veronica’s son and his grandmother.


He did 3 1/2 years in prison.  This celebration combines all the missed birthdays and Christmases into a moving homecoming.


Veronica and her son share a moment. He couldn’t believe that 3 1/2 years had passed.  As they pulled up to the house, he said, ‘This is like a dream.’ His mom said, ‘No, son. Prison was your nightmare.  You’re home now, and this is your reality.’

Video and Media Coverage of the Time Saved Party: Celebrating 1862 Years Saved from Incarceration!

Check out the inspiring sights and sounds of our Time Saved Party — a unique gathering of families who prevented, or reduced, their loved ones incarceration through participatory defense and partnerships with public defenders. Together, they represent 1,862 years saved from incarceration! It was an incredibly powerful night with people who had beaten life sentence, deportations, and more in attendance. We also launched our Time Saved Documentary Series, starting with our premiere episode featuring Lisa Coulter, we have uploaded it here as well. Below her documentary is a special lenticular print accompaniment that is now installed at the Santa Clara County Public Defender’s Office, that visually shows that family realities are dynamic, rather than static, and illustrates how time served can become time saved. Also, check out the write up of Time Saved which ran in this week’s Silicon Valley Metro. And click here to read the Mercury News coverage of our installation of Time Saved media and our partnership with the SC Public Defender in this powerful article called “Bay Area Public Defender’s Speak Out for Justice.” Both articles note the exciting national expansion of our participatory defense model. And click here to see the beautiful Time Saved Photo Booth slideshow — sharing the faces and incredible stories that make up our movement. See you at the Time Saved 2,500 Party!

Time Saved: The Lisa Coulter Story (Premiered at the Time Saved Party)

The Time Saved Lenticular Print, Installed at the Santa Clara County Public Defender’s Office, and Profiled in Mercury News
Silicon Valley Metro Weekly By the Numbers: 1,862 Six years ago, community organizer Raj Jayadev formed the Albert Cobarrubias Justice Project (ACJP)—named after an aspiring lawyer killed in a drive-by shooting—to help families caught up in the criminal justice system. As he began taking on more cases, he grew frustrated when, despite all the services he connected them to, they relinquished so much control once the case went to the courtroom. To affect real change, Jayadev thought, he would have to bridge the divide between the legal establishment and the community. That realization grew into a methodology called “participatory defense.” The idea is to work with public defenders and connect them with a client’s family and community, so they can more effectively tell their full story in court. Through this model, families become extensions of the legal defense team by scouring police reports, reading transcripts, offering defense strategies and speaking up for the defendant. About 80 percent of the 2.5 million Americans behind bars have relied on public defenders to represent them in court and influence the outcome of a case. By facilitating participatory defense in more than 400 cases, the ACJP has won acquittals, had charges dismissed or reduced, changed prison terms to rehabilitation sentences and even knocked life sentences off the table. When accounting for the original maximum sentences and subtracting what the defendant actually received after community intervention, the justice project has saved people a combined 1,862 years of incarceration. Last week, a group of former inmates, their families and friends, ACJP volunteers and public defenders all met at Zero One Garage in downtown San Jose to celebrate the time saved. Jayadev says the plan is to hold a celebration every 1,000 years saved from now on as the program expands into communities around the nation.

VIDEO: St.Louis County Residents Describe Political Corruption Just Weeks Before Michael Brown Killing

As communities across the country express outrage over the grand jury decision not to indict Darrell Wilson for the killing of Michael Brown, and the officer who killed Eric Garner, another relevant case from the Ferguson area is proceeding to trial that’s gives important context. Sylvester Caldwell, the Mayor of Pine Lawn, a neighboring town to Ferguson has been indicted on federal charges of extortion. The following is a video from Pine Lawn and Ferguson residents describing the political corruption in these small municipalities that allowed for the racially targeted police violence to fester. The footage was captured when De-Bug/ACJP producers were in the Ferguson area just two weeks before the shooting death of Michael Brown. For more context regarding wrongful arrests in North St.Louis County, please read the report released by our friends at the ArchCity Defenders.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xhgyHFLw0sM w=600&h=550]

Officers Who Killed Eric Garner and Mike Brown Walk — Will Cops Ever Be Held to Account in the Courts?

Still images of video of Eric Garner being choked to death by NYPD.

Still images of video of Eric Garner being choked to death by NYPD.

With the no indictment decision of officer Darren Wilson for the killing of Mike Brown, and the the same outcome on the officers who killed Eric Garner, the country is left to wonder: Is it even possible for police to be held accountable in the courts? Retired public defender, and ACJP co-founder, Aram James explores the history and potential possibilities of addressing the questions. In the piece, James cites Supreme Court case law advancing the notion that court proceedings for officers should be public and transparent.

No Indictment, no justice, in the cold blooded killing of unarmed African-American youth Michael Brown by white police officer Darren Wilson.  Shortly after, the same no indictment in the New York killing of unarmed African-American father Eric Garner — a death shown around the world on video.

Can we achieve systemic justice in officer involved shootings, and other forms of police murder? Is it possible in this country, given our two tier justice system, one designed for the police and another designed for the rest of us? What are the necessary steps we must take to restore trust in our criminal justice system, when the police seem, rarely, if ever, to be held fully accountable, when they shoot and kill, strangle and tase and brutally beat to death, unarmed people of color, and the poor? Continue reading

Come Celebrate 1800 Years of “Time Saved” from Incarceration!

We are proud to announce Time Saved: The 1800 Party — a special gathering of families who make up over 1800 years of time saved from incarceration or detention. The event will bring together families we have worked with over the years who have beat misdemeanors to life sentences, and deportations. They also represent what is possible in challenging mass incarceration through family and community organizing in the courts — what we call “participatory defense.” The event will also serve as the premiere of our series “Time Saved” a documentary series of families and public defenders who through their collaboration prevent incarceration. To come, or to donate, please RSVP the email on the flyer.