This is Arthur erasing his name from our weekly ACJP meeting. His dad Kenny would add his name up on that whiteboard for years. Last Sunday, Arthur came home from prison after eight years, having beaten a life sentence due to Prop.36, and erased his name. It is the one ceremony we have at our meetings — erasing the name means a family has won the freedom of their loved one.
We had only known Arthur through his letters from prison, and his stories from his father Kenny — that he was a great son and looked out for his brothers. Every Sunday Kenny would come to De-Bug to help think through Arthur’s case. In 2006, Arthur agreed to a deal after he was told that if he pled guilty, his brother — one of the codefendants in the case — would be released. He thought he would be serving somewhere around 8 years. When the Judge handed down a life sentence during his court hearing, everyone in the courtroom was stunned. That was the first time Arthur or his family had even heard of ‘life’ being on the table. So when Kenny first came to De-Bug in 2008, they were still reeling from the pain of losing their son to prison, even though it had already been 2 years. But with the support of his community, Kenny — on the outside — and Arthur on the inside — worked to undo his case. On Sundays, Kenny and the De-Bug team would lay out 4- inch binders of paperwork to help construct possible ways of appeal. We met with his appellate attorneys, wrote back and forth to Arthur, even met with decision-makers to find openings. Meanwhile, Kenny and Arthur held strong — working through depression and a host of health issues that Arthur faced inside the prison. Then when Prop 36 passed in November 2012, a glimmer of hope came. Arthur was contacted by the Santa Clara County Public Defender’s office who represented him at his resentencing. Kenny collected letters of support that demonstrated Arthur’s network that would give him a solid reentry plan, and last year, a judge agreed to release Arthur back to his community. Check out this Time Saved Party video, where Kenny talks about the day he found out his son had an “out date.” On May 5th, he came home. On May 31, 2015 — 7 years after Kenny first walked into the doors of De-Bug — Arthur walked in with him. Submission Post by Charisse Domingo