4 Reasons Why San Jose/Santa Clara County Is a National Leader in Social Justice

Heading into Fall, ACJP/De-Bug wants to acknowledge the nationally significant policy wins in criminal justice reform, police accountability, and immigration that occurred this Summer — all of which were first-of-its-kind victories in their respective fields. Check out the coverage from mainstream media, as well as videos, articles, and photos we produced chronicling how Summer 2013 has put our region on the map for social justice in this “storify.”

Time Saved: Ramon Vasquez, 95 years

Read and listen to the story of Ramon Vasquez, a 33 year old father of 2, who was released from Santa Clara County Jail back in 2008 for a crime he didn’t commit.  His family came weekly to De-Bug meetings to get assistance for his case, and because of their persistence and community support, Ramon is home.

This is part of the “Time Saved” series.  In court systems across the country, the term used to show that someone has done their time of incarceration is called “Time Served.”  At De-Bug, we transform that term, and that time, to “time saved” through family and community organizing to change the outcome of cases.  — Submission Post by Charisse Domingo


Families Can Transform the Courts: Mom Attends First ACJP When Son is Detained, Son Attends First ACJP When He is Released

Rosie and her daughter Denise first came to our ACJP meeting at East Valley Pentacostal Church when Rosie’s son, and Denise’s brother, David was facing a life sentence 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, and got appointed an attorney from the Public Defender’s Office, and worked with that attorney to advocate for David. David was home with his family within a couple months. Above, on the left, is a picture of Rosie and Denise at their first ACJP meeting, sharing David’s story. On the right is a picture of David who came to his first ACJP mtg, just two days after his release.

SF Youth Leader Released After Community Takes Public Stance Against Wrongful Prosecution

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. While she is still fighting a misdemeanor offense, she is out of custody and back home after shedding fabricated felony offenses through the pre-lim exam. Check out the photos chronicling the emotional victory for family and loved ones who have fought for the release of Elvira for the last 3 weeks. Arrested on charges that were up to 10 years max, Zayas was released on Tuesday night at 9:30pm and reunited with family and community yesterday. Photos are taken by Elvira’s older brother Alex Zayas and Jean Melesaine. (Click image to see rest of photo essay.)


After Late-Night Vote, Conn. Poised to Do Away with Death Penalty: Wall Street Journal

Death penalty banned in yet another state.-Post Submission by Cesar Flores

The vote didn’t come easy, but opponents of capital punishment got what they wanted early this morning in Connecticut when the state senate voted to approve a bill that would remove the death penalty from the books.

The state is now poised to become the 17th state to abolish the death penalty. Thirty-four states still have it.

According to this Hartford Courant story, the 20-16 vote came just after 2 a.m. this morning, after more than 10 hours of debate. The measure now moves to the state House of Representatives, where it has broad support, according to the story. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has pledged to sign the bill once it reaches his desk. Click here for a WSJ story that ran shortly before the vote.

The bill passed largely on party lines, with two Democrats joining the Republicans in an unsuccessful attempt to shoot down the bill. The bill would replace the death penalty with life in prison without the possibility of release, but stipulates that the 11 men currently on Connecticut’s death row would still face execution. Continue reading

Commemorative Poster Art for De-Bug’s Albert Cobarrubias Justice Project

Click image to see high resolution poster by Doug Minkler and Aram James

De-Bug’s Albert Cobarrubias Justice Project (ACJP), we often hear families say they feel “lost” when they first find out a loved one is facing criminal charges. There is a deep resolve to assist, but a lack of direction of how. At the ACJP, through the community built with other families walking along a similar journey – they find their way. In that regard, ACJP is that compass a family creates to move collectively towards the justice they seek. Continue reading

New America Media: San Francisco District Attorney Debate

Last week, a debate was held between the four candidates vying for the recently vacated position of San Francisco District Attorney. George Gason, David Onek, Vu Trinh and Sharmin Bock spoke on a number of issues including: the war on drugs, conviction rates, and the three strikes law. Here are a couple clip, produced by Ann Bassette, a video producer for New America Media.

David Onek discusses how race-neutral decisions affect communities of color.

George Gason speaks on the war on drugs in San Francisco.

To see more clips, go to New America Media’s coverage of the debate sponsored by: Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, ACLU-Northern Calif, African American Art and Culture Complex, Asian Law Caucus, Chinese for Affirmative Action, Equal Justice Society.