Our first Time Saved story of 2015! When this family came to De-Bug about 2 months ago, the judge in their 16 year old son’s case strongly considered a 6 year commitment away in juvenile prison, based on the recommendation from probation. He originally was facing a life sentence. With his amazing mom Cherisse Bergeron and attorney Monika Loya, we helped put together a mitigation packet that showed his strong local family, church, and community support and made the case for why local time was so much more crucial for his ability to bounce back from a tough life.
On Wednesday, after reviewing the social biography packet, the judge told him to look into the audience where every seat there was filled with his family and community –including his 2 little brothers. She said “Turn around.” She pointed to everyone. “That’s the reason I’m keeping you here and not sending you away.” Submission Post by Charisse Domingo (If your organization is interested in getting a workshop on how to make social biography packets, email us!)
Cherisse shows the mitigation packet for her son that demonstrates his challenges growing up, as well as his present community and future prospects. (This was taken a week before the sentencing hearing)
Day of court and ready to visit their son and brother. He will get to see and hug his 2 little brothers for the first time in almost 6 months.
His mom Cherisse proudly wears her “De-Bug The System” shirt. Her love for her son is a testimony to the power of faith in action. She herself has been through a tough few years, and being able to get through these last 6 months and being the instrumental force in her son’s case has been part of her life’s journey.
San Mateo County Juvenile Private Defender Monika Loya and Mom Cherisse Bergeron after court — they make a powerful team!
Steeda McGruder shares her testimony at a Yes on Prop 47 event with labor and youth advocates.
My first charge as an adolescent was a petty theft. When I think back 19 years ago my reasons for my actions seem so juvenile — peer pressure, lack of adult influence in my life and simply boredom growing up in a small town population 26,000 and a huge drug scene. A petty theft was simply entertainment to young people back in those days. When I turned 18, I was super excited to have shook the juvenile system. I had many great plans and ideas of what my life would be like now that I was free from the juvenile system. I guess you could say I had hope for my future, but to my surprise shortly after I turned 18 I was incarcerated for another petty theft.
My behaviors had never been addressed, just pushed aside. I had time to serve, but never the support or tools needed to be truly corrected. I’m sure you can imagine at the age of 18, my ideas about life are completely different than at the age of 12, especially being a single mom at the age of 18. Life showed up, and when it did, I behaved in a way that screamed “just survive.” Continue reading
In some of the darkest moments of their lives, De-Bug ACJP moms come together to fight for their children and loved ones against an unjust system that tries to swallow them up. Here’s to them on Mother’s Day! — Photography by Jean Melesaine; Submission Post by Charisse Domingo
As we launch our training series for organizations to impact their local court system, we are releasing this mini-documentary to give a glimpse into the stories, strategies, and triumphs we have witnessed. From a mother freeing her son, to a church creating an ACJP hub, this video shows the early stages of our growth (recorded a year and a half ago.) Feel free to share as we are now offering trainings to groups or regions on how to start this practice in their communities. Check it out, and contact us if you want to discuss trainings!
We had a powerful meeting this Sunday at ACJP, where three families all successfully resolved their cases through mutual support. They didn’t know each other a month ago, but will be forever united in their life stories. They live in different counties, even speak different languages at home.These images are a part of ACJP‘s “Time Saved” Series, documenting the stories, and amount of time saved from incarceration, due to community intervention in court cases. Submission and Photos by Charisse Domingo.
Click here to see the full story.
– Post Submission By Cesar Flores
The ACJP crew had an early morning. We all saddled up and went to the Northern California Innocence Project’s (NCIP) monthly continental breakfast presentation.
It was very informative, looking at a different insight on how a testimony against a fellow inmate could become such a big mess due to what one inmate gains from giving a testimony.
A video that was shown about how an inmate got all of the information on his fellow inmate through posing as a criminal investigation officer and district attorney. He said that gaining evidence against another inmate in jail “is a market.”
Reflecting on the breakfast, I’m Glad I woke up early to go. Maybe you could come next time.
More information on today’s breakfast is below.
I Smell a Rat: The Use of Snitch Testimony in Obtaining Criminal Convictions
Speaker: Chuck Sevilla
Convictions based on the testimony of jail house snitches, someone who stands to gain something in exchange for his testimony against another, contribute to more than 15% of the cases of wrongful conviction overturned by DNA testing. Yet snitch testimony is frequently used at trial. Using case examples, we will explore the use and misuse of snitch testimony and the risks inherent in that use, such as: How and when do prosecutors rely on “snitch” testimony? What motivates snitches to provide this information. Why does California now require inmate snitch testimony to be corroborated?
by Tracey Kaplan, April 5, 2010
Ramon Vasquez’s urban nightmare began when San Jose police surrounded him at gunpoint in a parking lot of a Coca-Cola distribution center. Instead of coaching his son’s Little League game that day, the soft-drink deliveryman wound up jailed for a gang-related murder, facing a possible life sentence.
Few outside his family and friends believed he was innocent until his fiancee heard about a free legal clinic offered every Sunday near downtown San Jose by the grass-roots group De-Bug.
With De-Bug’s help, all charges against Vasquez were dismissed and he was set free five months after being arrested.
In February, he was deemed factually innocent by a judge, erasing his record and increasing his chances of remuneration from the county.
“It was like I had a law firm behind me,” Vasquez, 29, said of De-Bug’s efforts, including urging his government-appointed attorney to mount a more aggressive defense. “I probably would have fallen through the cracks if it wasn’t for my family and De-Bug.”
After spending 5 months in jail for a wrongful arrest, ACJP member Ramon Vasquez sought to clear his name through a legal device called a “factual finding of innocence”. It is a rarely given judgment, but Ramon, his family, and the ACJP community was steadfast in his struggle.
by Tracey Kaplan, February 25, 2010
Ramon Vasquez spent five months behind bars as a murder suspect. He was found factually innocent Wednesday.
A San Jose man has been deemed factually innocent of murder in a rare ruling by a judge who stressed the importance of an outspoken judiciary — even in the face of blistering criticism of a fellow judge by prosecutors.
Over the objections of the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office, Judge Eugene M. Hyman found that Ramon Vasquez had nothing to do with the fatal shooting of Rogelio Silva two years ago. Continue reading