How My First Felony Leads Me To My First Time Voting (By Steeda McGruder)


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

Returning To Life From Life: A Daughter’s Journey To Freeing Her Mother From Prison

Check out this moving video made by De-Bug’s Jean Melesaine on Lisa Carter, the first woman in Santa Clara County who won her release from a life sentence due to Proposition 36.  Judge Deborah Ryan granted Lisa release after serving 18 years in prison for a $150 shoplifting charge (her 3rd strike), with the tremendous support from her family, friends, community, and public defender. This video will be part of the Time Saved series, chronicling stories of families bringing loved ones home from incarceration.

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.”

Mother’s Day Math: Mother’s Love > The System

We couldn’t fit all the ACJP mothers in one picture, but here are a few of them whose strength fuels us all to keep going, to keep fighting.  They come every Sunday or Tuesday — after their visits with their children in jail, or even way after their children’s court cases are over — to then uplift other family members who have faced the same struggles.  Happy Mothers’ Day to these Moms!  Submission Post by Charisse Domingo

Time Saved: 3 Families Support Each Other to Beat a Collective of 41 Years to Life in Prison


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.  

San Jose Stands Up for Trayvon Martin

This past Friday, March 30, 2012, San Jose residents of all ages and backgrounds gathered at San Jose City Hall to honor the life of Trayvon Martin, and to voice outrage at the injustice of his death. At the rally, organizations such as the NAACP, the Black Leadership Kitchen Cabinet, and Silicon Valley De-Bug/ACJP called on both city and county officials to sign a proclamation calling for justice for Trayvon Martin. Here are some photos:

Miguel Gonzalez made his own shirt to honor Trayvon.

Gail Noble and Nanji Jayadev.

Becky Cardenas stands with Oscar Grant's Uncle Cephus Johnson who recently returned from a trip visiting with the Martin family.

Former City Councilmember Forrest Williams addresses the crowd.

Malcolm Lee does a spoken word piece in honor of Trayvon.

Happy Birthday Albert! We Are Honored to Continue Your Vision

Albert at his graduation from San Jose State University.

Today is the birthday of one of our community heroes Albert Cobarrubias — who we named this project after. Albert was a dedicated co-founder of our work, and we named the work in his honor after his passing in 2010. We did so because we know Albert continues to fight for the community, and so every time the community takes a step forward in the fight for justice, we call his name. Love you and miss you brother.

Becky Cardenas started the first ACJP in Albert’s neighborhood in East San Jose, something we know Albert is proud of, here is her birthday wishes.
Happy Birthday Albert! He was a young hard working father and law student whom I met during a difficult time in my life, whom also became San Jose’s 1st homicide in 2010. In his rememberance I am proud to be part of an awesome team and facilitate the Albert Cobarrubias Justice Project in East Side San Jose, a community and advocacy project that assists individuals and families who have encountered the criminal justice system. Together we carry on the dream! God bless you, Albert! He introduced me to Silicon Valley-De-Bug whom as become a family to me!

Words from Albert — this was piece of a larger essay Albert wrote while applying for law school:
I was raised by my grandparents because my mother was only 15 years old when she had me. I soon became the focus of my entire family and everyone from aunts to uncles to cousins wanted to help out with raising me. As I grew up my grandmother became one of my biggest inspirations. She was a nurse for 25 years and taught me a lot about perseverance and commitment. It meant the world to her when I graduated from San Jose State because I am the only male and only the second person in my whole family to graduate from a 4 year college. At my San Jose State graduation her present to me was a promise that she would still be alive to be at my graduation from law school. She is now 80 years old and is in failing health. In my mind, that promise was the best present ever given to me.

San Jose Mercury News: Some living in Santee neighborhood allege security guards roughing up residents

About two months ago, Isaac Gomez, Victor Rivera, and their family came to ACJP raising the issue about the local security company, Admiral, who has been harassing many people in their neighborhood including using eviction as an intimidation tactic.  Victor himself was beaten up by security and their family served an eviction notice.  Their family chose to fight back, and  just last week, their family beat the eviction defense!  Here is their story featured in the Mercury News. 

San Jose: Some living in Santee neighborhood allege security guards roughing up residents

By Sean Webby
Photo by Nhat Meyer
San Jose Mercury News

Almost 15 years after a San Jose neighborhood was so afflicted by street gangs that a judge ordered landlords to hire their own private security force, some residents say it’s the court-mandated armed guards who are a threat.

Five teens, several adults who live in the Santee area and a gang suppression worker told this newspaper that guards from Concord-based Admiral Security have harassed and assaulted them. Continue reading