Thursday, November 12, 2009

Efrén's Leatherwork Available in Lansing This Saturday

The Peace Education Center is having i's annual Alternative Holiday Sale this Saturday, November 14, 2009 from 9 AM to 5 PM. It will be held at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 855 Grove Street, East Lansing, MI.

The Alternative Holiday Sale gives the Greater Lansing community the opportunity to meet and shop with others in the peace and justice community while supporting small personal businesses, nonprofit groups, and fair trade cooperatives. It is a tradition that combines holiday shopping with a true spirit of community.

There will be organic homemade treats and lunches for sale, as well as hot coffee and cocoa. Vendors will include woodworkers, crafts, clothing, soaps and candles, photographs, and much more.

Additionally, this year there will also be a table with handcrafted leather items that Efrén personally made himself. We will also have Free Efrén postcards available for distribution and one-page flyers. You are invited to stop by if you are in the area and spend time at the Free Efrén table to express your support and learn about all the latest updates.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Efrén Appears on Ebling and You Radio Show








Yesterday afternoon, Monday, October 26, 2009, Jack Ebling, AM 1320 WILS Lansing radio show host, interviewed Efrén on his show, Ebling and You.

Jack and Efrén discussed a recent article published on AlterNet.org titled "4 Prisoners Facing Executions or Serving Extreme Jail Sentences Who Very Well May Be Innocent" by Liliana Segura, which featured Efrén's case.

They also discussed another article recently featured in The Michigan Messenger titled "Drug cases dismissed following pleas by corrupt narcotics cops" by Eartha Jane Melzer. This article was about 40 wrongful convictions dismissed in Berrien County (the county Efrén was convicted in) by Chief Prosecutor Arthur Cotter as a result of two police officers who have pleaded guilty to federal charges that they made up evidence, conducted illegal searches and wrongfully arrested people.

Click the play button on the left side of the flash player below to listen to Jack's exclusive interview with Efrén.



A special thanks to our friend Jack Ebling for his continued support, and for helping us keep the injustice surrounding Efrén's wrongful incarceration in the public eye.

Biographical Information

Jack Ebling, host of "Ebling and You" and co-host of "Jack and Tom" on WILS, is a broadcaster and writer who has covered high school, college, and pro sports for nearly 30 years. He has been named Michigan Sportswriter of the Year three times and was inducted into the Greater Lansing Sports Hall of Fame in 2006.

Jack spent more than 24 years at the Lansing State Journal as a beat writer and columnist before moving to talk radio, television, and freelance writing. He has also been a contributor to Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News, Basketball Times, and Street & Smith’s College Football and College Basketball.

While Jack's background has been largely sports, on Ebling and You, Jack tackles an array of topics and talks with daily with political, business, entertainment and sports newsmakers in Lansing, in Michigan and around the nation.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Efrén Appears on Ebling and You Radio Show

Yesterday afternoon, Wednesday, August 9, 2009, Jack Ebling, AM 1320 WILS Lansing radio show host, interviewed Efrén on his show, Ebling and You.

Jack and Efrén discussed a recent speech he gave to youth in Toronto, Ontario (Canada) encouraging peace between police and youth in the city, how Efrén remains so positive despite enduring 20 years of wrongful imprisonment, his work promoting the graduation of high school Xicana/Latina students, among other things.

Click the play button on the left side of the flash player below to listen to Jack's exclusive interview with Efrén.



A special thanks to our friend Jack Ebling for his continued support, and for helping us keep the injustice surrounding Efrén's wrongful incarceration in the public eye.

Biographical Information

Jack Ebling, host of "Ebling and You" and co-host of "Jack and Tom" on WILS, is a broadcaster and writer who has covered high school, college, and pro sports for nearly 30 years. He has been named Michigan Sportswriter of the Year three times and was inducted into the Greater Lansing Sports Hall of Fame in 2006.

Jack spent more than 24 years at the Lansing State Journal as a beat writer and columnist before moving to talk radio, television, and freelance writing. He has also been a contributor to Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News, Basketball Times, and Street & Smith’s College Football and College Basketball.

While Jack's background has been largely sports, on Ebling and You, Jack tackles an array of topics and talks with daily with political, business, entertainment and sports newsmakers in Lansing, in Michigan and around the nation.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Contact Us Via New Google Voice Number

You can now contact us using our new Google Voice number.

If you would like to call and leave a comment, make a suggestion, request additional information about Efrén's case, or learn how you can assist our campaign to free him, you can leave us a voice mail message by calling our Google Voice number at 269-849-9056.

If you would like to speak to a member of Efrén's family, or a member of The Injustice Must End (TIME) Committee to Free Efrén Paredes, Jr., please state what you would like to discuss and leave your name, phone number, and the best time to return your call.  This will help us determine the best person to respond to your request.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Petition to Gov. Granholm Supporting Release of Efrén Paredes, Jr. on Change.Org Web Site

Please sign the new petition to Gov. Granholm supporting Efrén's release that has been created on the Change.org web site. You are welcome to edit the letter and include additional personal thoughts and feelings which is highly encouraged. It will only take you a few brief moments to complete the process.

Once you sign the letter please forward the campaign to others and ask them to do the same. You are encouraged to to share this note on your wall to help spread the word as well. The petition appears below.

According to the Change.org web site:
"Today as citizens of the world, we face a daunting array of social and environmental problems ranging from health care and education to global warming and economic inequality. For each of these issues, whether local or global in scope, there are millions of people who care passionately about working for change but lack the information and opportunities necessary to translate their interest into effective action.

Change.org aims to address this need by serving as the central platform informing and empowering movements for social change around the most important issues of our time."
We can not underscore enough the urgency of this very important call to action. Efrén's life and future are depending on our collective efforts. Thank you for your continued support, and please keep our family in your thoughts and prayers.




Saturday, June 27, 2009

Freedom March for Wrongful Convictions

Organizers hosted the Freedom March for Wrongful Convictions ("FMWC") on the steps of the capitol in Lansing, Michigan on Saturday, June 27, 2009. It was part of a coordinated multi-state effort to raise awareness of wrongful convictions and cast a spotlight on the need for criminal justice reform.

Representatives from the Innocence Project, Amnesty International, Peace Education Center, and other organizations were in attendance. WLNS-TV 6 News, WILX-TV 10 News, and the Lansing State Journal were present to report about the gathering.

Walter Swift, a recently exonerated former prisoner who was released after serving 27 years of incarceration, spoke at the event and discussed his struggle to prove his innocence.

In November 1982, Walter was wrongly convicted of rape and sentenced to 55 years' imprisonment. Convicted at the age of 21 on the basis of evidence that has been discredited, Walter nonetheless languished behind bars for almost 27 years for a crime he did not commit.

Ten years ago his case came to the attention of the Innocence Project, a non-profit legal clinic founded in New York in 1992 by Barry C. Scheck and Peter J. Neufeld. "Evidence shows that the victim's eyewitness identification was tragically wrong", says Olga Akselrod, an Innocence Project attorney.

After a decade of investigation and campaigning by the Innocence Project, Walter was exonerated in April 2008. "Walter Swift has been fully exonerated after spending most of his adult life in prison", said Innocence Project Co-Director Barry Scheck.

After the event Efrén spoke with Walter Swift via telephone. Walter conveyed to Efrén that he will begin mentioning his campaign for freedom when he discusses wrongful convictions and the need for reform in the criminal justice system as he travels across the state.

Members of The Injustice Must End (TIME) Committee from both the Lansing and Detroit areas were also present to express support for Efrén and the event. One member of the Lansing TIME Committee spoke at the event on Efrén's behalf, and a member of the Detroit TIME Committee was interviewed by WLNX-TV 6.

The event was a success. Organizers of the event and those in attendance will work together to continue building on their efforts and plan for an even larger gathering next year. Educating the public about the facts surrounding wrongful convictions is a very important step in creating meaningful reform in a system that has ignored human rights and the rule of law for far too long.

Wrongful Convictions Facts

There have been 240 post-conviction DNA exonerations in the United States.
• The first DNA exoneration took place in 1989. Exonerations have been won in 34 states; since 2000, there have been 171 exonerations.
• 17 of the 240 people exonerated through DNA served time on death row.
• The average length of time served by exonerees is 12 years. The total number of years served is approximately 2,982.
Facts Source: http://www.innocenceproject.org/Content/351.php


Friday, June 5, 2009

Efrén Appears on Thousand Kites National Radio Broadcast

Efrén appeared on the Thousand Kites national radio broadcast June 4, 2009 to discuss his wrongful conviction and the subject of juvenile life without parole sentencing in the USA. He spoke to Thousand Kites six months to the day after his December 4, 2008 public hearing.

Efrén discussed the issue of juvenile life without parole (JLWOP) sentences, the state legislation pending in Michigan to abolish these sentences, and the upcoming U.S. House Judiciary Committee hearing in Congress to consider legislation to abolish the practice as well.

Click on the following link to visit the page where you can hear Efrén's interview: http://tinyurl.com/nffawq.

Thousand Kites is a national dialogue project addressing the criminal justice system. By being involved with Kites you will become part of a national movement to use the power of art to reform our criminal justice system and to talk about human rights in the United States. Using video, theater, radio, and the web as tools, you can bring people together to support organizing efforts and share experiences with the criminal justice system.

To learn more about Thousand Kites and how you can support its mission, please visit http://www.thousandkites.org. A special thanks to Julia Taylor for arranging the interview.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Efrén Appears on Ebling and You Radio Show

Yesterday afternoon, Monday, June 1, 2009, Jack Ebling, AM 1320 WILS Lansing radio show host, interviewed Efrén on his show, Ebling and You.

Jack and Efrén discussed the six months he has endured since his public hearing awaiting a decision about his commutation request, his wrongful conviction, and the issue of juvenile life without parole sentences.

Click the play button on the left side of the flash player below to listen to Jack's exclusive interview with Efrén.



A special thanks to our friend Jack Ebling for his continued support, and for helping us keep the injustice surrounding Efrén's wrongful incarceration in the public eye.

Biographical Information

Jack Ebling, host of "Ebling and You" and co-host of "Jack and Tom" on WILS, is a broadcaster and writer who has covered high school, college, and pro sports for nearly 30 years. He has been named Michigan Sportswriter of the Year three times and was inducted into the Greater Lansing Sports Hall of Fame in 2006.

Jack spent more than 24 years at the Lansing State Journal as a beat writer and columnist before moving to talk radio, television, and freelance writing. He has also been a contributor to Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News, Basketball Times, and Street & Smith’s College Football and College Basketball.

While Jack's background has been largely sports, on Ebling and You, Jack tackles an array of topics and talks with daily with political, business, entertainment and sports newsmakers in Lansing, in Michigan and around the nation.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Cristo Rey Festival in Lansing to Feature Info About Efrén for Next 3 Days

Friday, May 22 through Sunday, May 24 the Cristo Rey Community Center will be hosting their annual festival. The festival offers Mexican and Latino music, dancing, vendors, food and more. The event will take place at Cristo Rey Church, 201 W. Miller Road, Lansing, Michigan. The hours of the event are: Friday 5pm - 11pm, Saturday Noon - 11 pm, and Sunday Noon - 6pm.

The Peace Education Center (PEC), which has been a strong supporter of Efrén and our efforts to free him, will be having an informational table each day of the festival. This is the third year the PEC will be at the festival. PEC's table will be staffed during the festival hours. The two main focused of the PEC info table are:

(1) Get people to sign postcards addressed to Governor Granholm expressing support for the granting of Efrén's commutation request, collect the postcards for mailing, and provide additional information about Efrén's case. They will also share the recent article, "New Latino youth justice report shines spotlight on the case of Efrén Paredes Jr.", which was published on Wednesday, May 20, 2009, on the blog Latina Lista by author Marisa Treviño.

(2) Counter-recruiting to convince young Latinos to consider career options other than military service. The PEC will also be selling by donation bumper stickers and buttons with peace theme.

We are very grateful for the continued strong support that PEC has consistently provided to Efrén since they have joined our campaign for his freedom. They are a wonderful group of people who are doing positive work in the community. They are an inspiration to others demonstrating that persistent action for a cause can manifest in real change.

This weekend as you are visiting friends and family please ask them to send a message to the Governor to express support for Efrén's release. They can learn to do this by visiting http://tinyurl.com/michgov. We wish you all a wonderful and safe weekend.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

New Latino Youth Justice Report Shines Spotlight on the Case of Efrén Paredes, Jr.








by Marisa Treviño on 20 de Mayo 2009 11:23 AM

According to a new report released today by The National Council of La Raza (NCLR) and the Campaign for Youth Justice (CFYJ), one out of 4 incarcerated Latino youth is held in an adult jail facility.

The report, America’s Invisible Children: Latino Youth and the Failure of Justice discovered several key facts that underscore the institutionalized prejudices that exist in our legal system towards Latino youth and other youth of color.

These prejudices have resulted in a domino effect of discrepancies in treatment among youth inmates resulting in Latino youth being overrepresented in the judicial system, receiving harsher treatment, being dealt a sentence that is more punitive than their white counterparts for the same offense and more likely to be placed in adult prisons.

Yet, one of the more surprising, and disappointing, finds of the report, is that "a higher proportion of white youth prosecuted in the adult system are released pretrial (60%) than any other racial or ethnic categories. While most (54%) of Latino youth prosecuted in the adult system were detained pretrial; of the Latino youth detained pretrial, 72% were held in adult jails."

The obvious question from such a finding is: What makes white youth seem more trustworthy to be released pretrial than Latino youth?

Is it who their parents are? The school they went to? The section of town they live in?

Or is it the color of their skin?

The report's authors admit that "there is no simple answer to the question of why Latino youth are being treated so unfairly." However, the overriding message from this report is that the current justice system is not just committing a disservice to Latino youth but is trapping them in a failed system with little recourse for rehabilitation or rejoining society where they can make a decent living and improve their lives.

In a system that is all too ready to commit juveniles into an adult facility, Latino youth are at an even greater disadvantage because they are subjected to rape and assault in those adult prison facilities.

Fortunately, this gross disparity has not gone unnoticed.

Florida State University Clinical Law professor Paolo Annino told Latina Lista readers in March of he and his students drafting legislation titled the Second Chance Act for Children in Prison of 2009 .

Professor Annino wrote:
Florida takes the lead in placing the youngest children in the adult prison system. The most recent Florida data shows, there is 1 inmate who was 10, 4 inmates who were 11, 5 inmates who were 12, and 31 inmates who were 13 years old at the time of their offense.

These children all received adult prison sentences of more than 10 years. Of the four inmates who were 11 at the time of their offense, three are Hispanic.

In total, there are 448 inmates who received adult prison sentences of 10 years or more and who were 15-years-old or younger at the time of their offense. Approximately 10 percent of these child inmates who received long adult prison sentences are Hispanic.

Florida State University College of Law, Children in Prison Project has been researching the issue of children in Florida prisons for over 11 years and based on this research, FSU law students have created the Second Chance for Children in Prison Act of 2009 (House Bill 757 and Senate Bill 1430)…

This Act provides these 448 adolescent offenders adjudicated as adults in Florida the opportunity of parole. Only those adolescent offenders who have worked to get their lives back on track while in prison and who have already served at least 8 years of their prison sentence are eligible for parole under this Act.
When he wrote this piece, Professor Annino had high hopes that the bill would pass. The Senate version of the bill passed but it was blocked in the Criminal & Civil Justice Policy Council by the committee chair — effectively killing the bill.

“After interviewing each committee member, I believe the votes were there to pass the bill,” said Professor Paolo Annino. "We will re-file in December 2009 for the spring legislative session in 2010."

A bill, such as proposed by Professor Annino, would go a long way in pulling Latino youth out of a judicial system that has made it clear that it has no desire to review Latino juvenile cases or rehabilitate Latino youth.

One Latino, who experienced the prejudice and discrimination of a judicial system that has effectively locked him up and thrown away the key, is Efren Paredes Jr.

Efren was a 15-year-old high school honor student in Michigan who was convicted in 1989 for murder and armed robbery — charges that he has steadfastly and consistently denied and to which others have plead guilty.
His sentence — three consecutive life sentences.

After the trial, it came to light that several improprieties were committed by the prosecutor. Yet, after all this time, 20 years, the injustice that was committed against Efren has yet to be addressed in a serious manner that acknowledges that this was a boy who had no criminal record when he was arrested, was a student athlete and honor student.

His arrest was based on the statements of people with a criminal history.

Since he's been in jail, Efren has accomplished much. He's earned his GED, attended college, received degrees and certifications, delivers presentations at national conferences via telephone. Lord knows what he would have become had he not been implicated in this crime.

To be 15 and handed three consecutive life sentences does not make sense for Efren or any other young person put in jail. Though the evidence overwhelmingly points to the innocence of Efren Paredes Jr, for those kids who do commit crimes and are handed life sentences, only to show through what they accomplish in prison, that their lapse in youthful judgement was but for a moment in time, they certainly don't deserve to have the key thrown away.

As with Professor Annino's bill, these kids do deserve a second chance.

Over the years, a small army of supporters have tried their best to bring Efren's case before the court of public opinion. They want the governor of Michigan to commute his sentence.

The big question is why hasn't he done so?

So, in the meantime, Efren's supporters carry on his 20-year battle for justice. They have created an online petition, a Facebook page, MySpace, a blog.

They have also made available powerpoint presentation about Efren's case which underscore why his continued imprisonment defies explanation and common sense.

It is time the national Latino community took up the cause of Efren Paredes Jr.

Where is MALDEF? Where is NCLR? Where is LULAC?

Reports are fine to alert us all to what has been transpiring but we've reached a point in our evolution as a community where reports are meaningless, unless we identify those who suffer from the very injustices outlined in these reports, and put our collective voices towards correcting those injustices.

The time to act is long overdue.

Source: http://www.latinalista.net/palabrafinal/2009/05/new_latino_youth_justice_report_shines_i.html

Sunday, April 26, 2009

University of Southern Califonia (USC) Holds Forum on Life Sentences for Youth

Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 6:00 PM the University of Southern California (USC) will host a forum focused on the use of life sentences without the possibility of parole on people under the age of 18-years-old.

Panelists include Professor Heidi Rummel of the USC School of Law; Elizabeth Calvin of Human Rights Watch, a researcher and advocate with Human Rights Watch will discuss SB399 and California specific issues regarding juvenile justice; and Efrén Paredes, Jr. who is serving sentences of life without parole in Michigan (present by phone); and students from USC Gould School of Law's Post Conviction Justice Project who are currently working on cases in which juveniles have been sentenced to life without parole.

Panelists will discuss several questions, including: Should juveniles be sentenced to life in prison? Are our youth incorrigible? Why is the U.S. the only nation in the world to not ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child?

There is a statewide campaign to end juvenile life without parole in California, where more than 250 youth have been sentenced to die in prison. A bill has just been introduced in the California state legislature that would provide review and possible re-sentencing of all life without parole cases cases in which the offender was under the age of 18 when the crime occurred. Students at USC could play an important role in helping to get SB 399, the Fair Sentences for Youth Act, passed.

President Barack Obama who has openly expressed his dissatisfaction with the fact that the United States has not, like the country of Somalia, yet ratified the Convention On the Rights of the Child which prohibits the imposition of life without parole sentences on juveniles. The United States and Somalia are the only countries in the world who have not ratified the treaty.

In October 2008, President Obama responded to this at the Walden University Presidential Youth Debate by saying, "It is embarrassing to find ourselves in the company of Somalia, a lawless land." He continued, "I will review this and other treaties and ensure that the United States resum es its global leadership in human rights."

Location: USC Campus WPH102 Sponsored by M.E.Ch.A. de USC .

Source: http://tinyurl.com/c2c368

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Local Leaders Rally to Support Efren Paredes, Jr.

Local Leaders Rally to Support Efren Paredes, Jr.

by Juliana Birnbaum Fox

The Bay Area has become an active center of support for Michigan inmate Efren Paredes, Jr., convicted in 1989 and sentenced to life at the age of 15 for a murder he still maintains he did not commit. There was no physical evidence linking Efren to the crime, nor any eyewitnesses, and his family maintains that he was home with them when the murder occurred.

Over the past decades, Paredes, now 35, has become a symbol for prison system reform in cases involving juveniles. His parole appeal is currently being considered by a state commission.

“Paredes’ sentence as a juvenile to life in prison without parole (JLWOP) violates human rights legal standards,” reads a letter from the Berkeley City Council to Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm. The letter mentions the questionable circumstances that led to Paredes’ conviction, and his leadership and positive contribution to society despite his 20 years of incarceration. “For this country to be the lone holdout on the issue of JLWOP weakens our moral and legal standing in the international community,” the letter continues, urging a ban on the practice. The city council adopted a resolution condemning Paredes’ sentence as a human rights violation in February of this year.

Despite being an honor student and having no prior convictions, the judge in Paredes’ case exercised his option to sentence him as an adult because of his apparent lack of remorse for the crime, which involved an armed robbery and murder at a store where Paredes worked. All of the other defendants in the case pleaded guilty in exchange for plea bargains, and have since been released from prison.

Local activist Elizabeth “Betita” Martínez, director of the Institute for Multi-Racial Justice, wrote in her support letter for Paredes, points out the larger systemic issue of injustice imposed upon the Latino community in the court system.

“Mr. Paredes’ trial attorney had advised him to show no emotion during his trial, which had a very negative effect on the sentencing phase,” Martinez writes. “Until recently the attorney always denied giving this advice. However, he has now admitted it, a fact that is included in Mr. Paredes’ current appeal.”

Michigan has sentenced more juveniles to life in prison without parole than any other state except Pennsylvania, according to a 2007 UCSF study, "Sentencing Our Children to Die in Prison." Currently local Paredes supporters are also calling attention to the fact that California has ­277 such individuals are serving these sentences in the state. The United States is the only nation that imprisons juveniles for life.

“For many children, [life without parole] is an effective death sentence carried out by the state slowly over a long period of time,” said Michelle Leighton, chief author of the study. Life terms also fall disproportionately on youths of color, with blacks 20 times more likely to receive such a sentence in California.

The UCSF report asserts that trying children and teenagers in adult courts does not take into account several important factors: the bigger potential for rehabilitation and reintegration into society; their ineptness at navigating the criminal justice system, and their lessened culpability as compared with adult offenders.

“It’s a local issue to us,” said Wendy Kenin of the Berkeley Peace and Justice Commission. “This gives us an opportunity to weigh in­to take a stand on the issue of juvenile sentences of life without parole.”

The board will be making a recommendation to the Governor’s Office about Paredes’s release in the coming weeks. The Governor will render the final decision. Generally these decisions are made within a few months, but there is no official timetable.

Source: http://www.elreporterosf.com/editions/?q=node/3217

This article appeared on the front page of El Reportero, Vol. 19, No. 6. The original article included Israel as a nation that imprisons juveniles to life in prison. That statement has been removed from this re-post becuase it is inaccurate. The US is the only country in the world imposing the sentence. Click here to view the PDF version of this file as it originally appeared in print.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Jack Ebling Interviews Mario Rocha About His Wrongful Conviction, His Documentary "Mario's Story," and Efrén Paredes, Jr.

This afternoon, Monday, April 20, 2009, Jack Ebling, AM 1320 WILS Lansing radio show host, interviewed Mario Rocha, a friend of Efrén's and member of The Injustice Must End (TIME) Committee to Free Efrén Paredes, Jr.

Jack and Mario discussed his wrongful conviction which robbed him of 10 years of his freedom, his documentary "Mario's Story" that has been airing on Mondays on Showtime for the past month, what he is doing with his life today, and about how he became involved in the campaign to free Efrén.

Click the play button on the left side of the flash player below to listen to Jack's exclusive interview with Mario Rocha.



You can also read a recent post Efrén wrote about Maria which you can view by clicking on the following link:

http://4efren.blogspot.com/2009/04/mario-rocha-another-tragic-story-of.html

Mario is expected to visit Michigan in the coming weeks to screen his documentary, discuss his case, wrongful convictions, and the importance for the citizens of the State of Michigan to support Efrén's release.

A special thanks to our friend Jack Ebling for his continued support, and for helping us keep the injustice surrounding Efrén's wrongful incarceration in the public eye.

Biographical Information

Jack Ebling, host of "Ebling and You" and co-host of "Jack and Tom" on WILS, is a broadcaster and writer who has covered high school, college, and pro sports for nearly 30 years. He has been named Michigan Sportswriter of the Year three times and was inducted into the Greater Lansing Sports Hall of Fame in 2006.

Jack spent more than 24 years at the Lansing State Journal as a beat writer and columnist before moving to talk radio, television, and freelance writing. He has also been a contributor to Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News, Basketball Times, and Street & Smith’s College Football and College Basketball.

While Jack's background has been largely sports, on Ebling and You, Jack tackles an array of topics and talks with daily with political, business, entertainment and sports newsmakers in Lansing, in Michigan and around the nation.

Monday, April 13, 2009

As bill to ban life imprisonment for children languishes, inequities of defense persist

Children facing prospect of life sentence often have no choice but rely on state's overworked and under-resourced public defenders.

by Earth Jane Melzer
The Michigan Messenger
April, 13, 2009

As legislation to end juvenile-life-without-parole sentences in Michigan remains stalled in the Senate Judiciary Committee, some court watchers are warning that the controversial sentence may not be in tune with recent public opinion and is not applied fairly by the justice system.


Currently, nearly 350 people in the state are serving life sentences for crimes committed when they were age 17 or younger. Seventy percent of them are African American, according to the state’s Department of Corrections.

Michigan, which currently spends approximately 20 percent of it’s general budget on corrections, has the third-highest number of inmates serving juvenile-life-without-parole sentences, according to a 2005 study by the Wayne State University School of Social Work.

Wayne State’s study surveyed public sentiment on juvenile crime and punishment and found that a majority did not support juvenile-life-without-parole sentences.

“Michigan residents are unequivocal in their belief that youth should be held accountable for their violent crimes,” the study’s authors wrote, “but that it should be in a manner that recognizes the physiologic, psychological and emotional capabilities of the youths, understanding that these capabilities differ from that of adults. These findings seem to support alternative sentencing arrangements and changes to Michigan’s current policies and legislation.”

When asked what would be an appropriate sentence for a juvenile convicted of homicide, the largest portion of respondents, 39 percent, said they preferred confinement in a juvenile facility then transfer to an adult facility for a life sentence with possibility of parole. Only 5 percent said life in adult prison without parole was the appropriate sentence; 78 percent of those surveyed said that 14-16 year-olds should not be sentenced to adult prison.

Patricia Caruso, director of the state Department of Corrections, supports the legislation to end juvenile-life-without-parole sentencing and told the Capitol News Service last month that juveniles should never come into the adult prison system.

“When you put a 14-year-old in an adult system, you’ve given up.” she said. “Adult prisons are not designed for juveniles.”

The legislation, sponsored by State Sen. Liz Brater, an Ann Arbor Democrat, would ban juvenile-life-without-parole sentences and allow those already serving mandatory life sentences for crimes committed as juveniles to apply for parole after a portion of their sentence is served. The bill was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee in February, where it has been stuck ever since.

Young Defendants Often Lack Adequate Defense

When juveniles are facing charges that carry a life sentence, they are especially dependent on legal counsel in a state that has one of the most under-funded public defender systems in the country. A recent report by the National Legal Aid and Defender Association done in cooperation with the State Bar of Michigan found that the lack of state funding, standards and oversight leads to inadequate public defense locally where counties often lack the resources to provide adequate support for those who can’t afford an attorney.

Because young people are especially dependent on counsel to represent their interests, the failure of the state to provide adequate resources for public defense hits youth especially hard. According to the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, 78 percent of juveniles sentenced to life without parole relied on appointed counsel.

Coalition for Justice, an alliance of legal and human rights groups concerned about inequities in the state justice system, together with the ACLU of Michigan is suing the state for failing to ensure equal access to representation in Michigan. The group point out that in Berrien County, for example, the prosecution receives four times as much funding as the defense.

Scott Elliot of Benton Harbor is a member of the Coalition for Justice’s public defense task force and is also the chair of groups racial relations council of Southwest Michigan.

Elliot has closely followed the case of Efren Paredes, Jr., a 15-year old Latino honor student who in 1989 became Michigan’s first juvenile to receive the life-without-parole sentence after being convicted of murder and robbery. Paredes, who has now served 20 years in prison, maintains that he is innocent.

During his years of incarceration he has become a widely known advocate for sentencing reform and he works translating books for the blind.

Elliot said stereotypes and cultural bias were an important factor in Paredes conviction.

A notebook with lyrics from rap group N.W.A.’s double platinum selling “Straight Outta Compton” album was found in Paredes’ locker at school.

Despite the fact that Paredes was a good student and had no criminal record, the prosecutor, who assumed that the lyrics were written by Paredes himself, Elliot said, introduced them as a “window into his mind” and tried to characterize him as a dangerous gang member.

Twenty years later, the lyrics remain a key element of the case against Paredes, Elliot said. At a December 2008 parole board hearing for Paredes commutation request, Berrien County Prosecutor Arthur J. Cotter again read the lyrics to the parole board as a central element of his testimony about Paredes.

The Berrien County prosecutor’s office did not respond to a request for comment on use of the lyrics and the county’s sentencing statistics.

Uneven Treatment, County by County

According to an American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan report, “Second Chances: Juveniles Serving Life Without Parole in Michigan,” the rate of juvenile-life-without-parole sentences varies widely among Michigan counties. Between 1990 and 2000, the counties with the highest rate of this sentence were Saginaw, Calhoun and Berrien counties.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Saginaw and Berrien rank among the top 25 most segregated metropolitan areas in the country.

Elliot, who has studied trends in punishment in Berrien County over three decades, said that social exclusion is a key factor in why some counties are more likely to send juvenile offenders to adult prison for life.

“It’s kind of easy to say that it was racial. I think in this community everybody’s father and uncle either belongs to Rotary or the Lion’s club or Kiwanis or their brother-in-law was a police officer,” Elliot said.

“If you are outside that large circle which is 99 percent white then you are vulnerable whether you are Latino of some other minority or black or even like me don’t go to church and don’t belong to those clubs. Anybody who is not under that umbrella is vulnerable.”

Michael Thomas, prosecuting attorney for Saginaw County, said that he was unaware that the U.S. Census Bureau lists the Saginaw as among the nation’s most segregated areas. “Segregation,” he said, “is a word I haven’t heard in around 15 years.”

Thomas said that he does not believe that racism or inability to pay for lawyers are direct factors in Saginaw’s rank as the county with the highest rate of juvenile-life-without-parole sentences in the state.

“There has been a loss of public safety in Michigan,” he said. “We now have the highest violent crime rate in the Midwest with Saginaw and Detroit tied for most violent crime,” in this climate, there are more murders committed by people of all ages.

“Children who are raised in homes where they don’t see violence and don’t have to worry where their next meal is coming from are less likely to commit violent crimes,” Thomas said.

Source: http://michiganmessenger.com/16689/as-bill-to-ban-life-imprisonment-for-children-languishes-inequities-of-defens-persist

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

"Another Commutation," Opinion, Detroit Free Press

Opinion
The Detroit Free Press
April 8, 2009

We are grateful for Jeff Gerritt's column on parolee Mike Chegwidden ("A forsaken dream leaves Michigan parolee on ice," March 26). Gerritt allowed Chegwidden space to acknowledge the "one poor choice" he made when he was 16 years old. It is clear, however, that the sentence Chegwidden was given was indeed "ridiculously harsh" and justice was better served in the commutation he received from Gov. Jennifer Granholm last year.

Gerritt also alluded to the many more cases that need to be looked at. We would like to draw readers' attention to one case that Gerritt reported on last year. We refer to the case of Efren Paredes, Jr. ("Justice makes case for commutations," Dec. 11).

From sources we consider credible, we believe that Paredes was in all likelihood not guilty. From our background in human rights issues, we know that he should not have been sentenced as a juvenile to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. From his stellar educational, employment and personal good conduct record in jail, we are confident he will have an excellent chance of leading a good, productive life if he is released.

Paredes' case was reviewed by the Michigan Board of Pardons and Paroles several months ago. We hope that the board will make the wise and just recommendation to commute his sentence in as timely a manner as possible.

Ken and Geraldine Grunow
Coordinators, Detroit Chapter
Amnesty International U.S.A.

Source: http://www.freep.com/article/20090408/OPINION04/904080316/0/OPINION01

Monday, March 30, 2009

Jack Ebling Interviews Detroit Free Press Editorial Writer About Wrongful Convictions and Efrén Paredes, Jr.

This afternoon, Tuesday, March 31, 2009, Jack Ebling, AM 1320 WILS Lansing radio show host, interviewed Detroit Free Press editorial writer Jeff Gerritt.

Jack and Gerritt discussed his recent article that appeared in the Detroit Free Press regarding the alarming rate of wrongful convictions and problems with the Michigan justice system. He also discussed Efrén's pending commutation request and other related matters.

Click the play button on the left side of the flash player below to listen to Jack's exclusive interview with Jeff Gerritt.



A special thanks to our friend Jack Ebling for his continued support, and for helping us keep the injustice surrounding Efrén's wrongful incarceration in the public eye.

Biographical Information

Jack Ebling, host of "Ebling and You" and co-host of "Jack and Tom" on WILS, is a broadcaster and writer who has covered high school, college, and pro sports for nearly 30 years. He has been named Michigan Sportswriter of the Year three times and was inducted into the Greater Lansing Sports Hall of Fame in 2006.

Jack spent more than 24 years at the Lansing State Journal as a beat writer and columnist before moving to talk radio, television, and freelance writing. He has also been a contributor to Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News, Basketball Times, and Street & Smith’s College Football and College Basketball.

While Jack's background has been largely sports, on Ebling and You, Jack tackles an array of topics and talks with daily with political, business, entertainment and sports newsmakers in Lansing, in Michigan and around the nation.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

New Michigan House Bills 4518 and 4594-4596 Introduced Seeking to Abolish Juvenile Life Without Parole (LWOP) Sentences

We recently learned that House Bills 4518 and 4594-4596 were introduced March 5, 2009 in the Michigan Senate, and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee the same day, in an effort to abolish juvenile life without parole (LWOP) sentences in Michigan. Below are links for you to download and/or view the package of bills.

You will recall that 2008 House Bills 4402-4405 were passed overwhelmingly in the Michigan House on December 4, 2008. The bills were not, however, voted on in the Senate and 2009 versions of the bills had to be reintroduced.

You are encouraged to circulate this link to people of conscience in your network who are opposed to human rights violations being perpetrated against the nation's children — our most vulnerable population.

You are also asked to visit the two blog post links that appear at the end of this message which call on you to contact our state legislators and ask them to pass this legislation. Now that we know the bill numbers people can include this information in their letters to legislators.

Please remember, if passed, the bills will not release a single prisoner. They will only provide them with the opportunity to be reviewed by the Parole Board for possible release. The bills do not abandon the concept of redemption. In fact, they seek to re-infuse it into the existing system.

These bills are very important to Efrén's life and future, and to 330+ others who were sentenced to LWOP when they were juveniles as well.

A House Judiciary Committee hearing is expected to be held on these bills during the month of April 2009. We will post the date and any additional information here as we learn it.

You can view or download the package of bills or individual bills in PDF format below.

Click here to view or download the entire package of bills.

Click here to view House Bill 4518.

Click here to view House Bill 4594.

Click here to view House Bill 4595.

Click here to view House Bill 4596.

Click here to view Helen's message calling on people to contact their legislators to encourage them to abolish juvenile LWOP sentences in Michigan and how to do so.

Click here to view Efrén's message calling on people to contact their legislators to encourage them to abolish juvenile LWOP sentences in Michigan.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Jack Ebling Interviews Efrén About 20-Year Anniversary of Imprisonment

This afternoon, Monday, March 16, 2009, Jack Ebling, AM 1320 WILS Lansing radio show host, interviewed Efrén on Ebling and You.

Jack and Efrén discussed the 20-year anniversary of Efrén's imprisonment which occurred the previous day, his pending commutation request, and about how he has managed to remain a strong, positive person during the past two decades of incarceration.

Click the play button on the left side of the flash player below to listen to Jack's exclusive interview with Efrén.



A special thanks to our friend Jack Ebling for his continued support, and for helping us keep the injustice surrounding Efrén's wrongful incarceration in the public eye.

Biographical Information

Jack Ebling, host of "Ebling and You" and co-host of "Jack and Tom" on WILS, is a broadcaster and writer who has covered high school, college, and pro sports for nearly 30 years. He has been named Michigan Sportswriter of the Year three times and was inducted into the Greater Lansing Sports Hall of Fame in 2006.

Jack spent more than 24 years at the Lansing State Journal as a beat writer and columnist before moving to talk radio, television, and freelance writing. He has also been a contributor to Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News, Basketball Times, and Street & Smith’s College Football and College Basketball.

While Jack's background has been largely sports, on Ebling and You, Jack tackles an array of topics and talks with daily with political, business, entertainment and sports newsmakers in Lansing, in Michigan and around the nation.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Juvenile Life Without Parole, Youth Sentencing Targeted for Reform in Legislature


by Eartha Jane Melzer
Michigan Messenger
Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Despite growing bipartisan support for corrections reform, some state Republicans are wary of reforms affecting juvenile sentencing and parole.

Nearly 1,000 of the roughly 49,000 inmates of the Michigan Department of Corrections have served more than 10 years for crimes they committed while under 18. And nearly 350 of them are serving life sentences without parole for crimes they committed as children.

The youthful-offender parole reform bill (SB 174), which is tied to a bill to end juvenile life-without-parole sentences (SB 173), passed the House last year and was reintroduced this session in the Senate. The bills are now before the Judiciary Committee, which has yet to take action on the legislation.

The measure would allow a parole board, after 10 years, to evaluate the cases of some juvenile offenders who are serving sentences of more than 10 years or serving life sentences or life without parole. Currently, those serving life are eligible for parole after 15 years; those serving life without parole are ineligible.

Efren Paredes Jr., 35, is the most widely known of the inmates who could be affected by the legislation.

Paredes was a 15-year-old honor student with no criminal record when he was convicted of a 1989 murder and robbery in St. Joseph. He was sentenced to three life sentences without parole.

Throughout his imprisonment at Jackson and other state prison facilities, he has maintained his innocence. Paredes received his GED at 16, enrolled in college courses and has worked since 1995 translating textbooks into Braille.

In February, the city council in Berkeley, Calif., passed a resolution calling for the end of juvenile-life-without-parole sentencing and for the commutation of Parades’ sentence.

Also last month, a parole board heard more than eight hours of testimony at a hearing where Paredes sought commutation of his sentence. Russ Marlin, spokesman for the Department of Corrections, said that parole board members are expected to issue a recommendation this month.

The passage of the juvenile-life-without-parole legislative package would allow Paredes, and others in his class, to be considered for parole.

Velia Koppenhoefer, Paredes’ mother, continues to press for her son’s release and is pressing for reform. She said via email:
Efren will be imprisoned for a complete 20 years on March 15. With all he has accomplished in his life while incarcerated, his outpouring of nationwide support, as well as having home placement and guaranteed employment if released, he would have been an excellent candidate for release long before now.
The key things to understand about the pending Senate Bills which seek to abolish life without parole sentences for juveniles (i.e., Senate Bills 173-176) is that they do not release a single prisoner. There is a big misconception among people that the bills will release people and that is simply not true.
State Sen. Alan Cropsey (R-DeWitt), who serves on the Judiciary Committee, is not in favor of passing the juvenile sentencing bills out of his committee. The lawmaker said he was unfamiliar with the case of Efren Paredes and noted that the juvenile sentencing package is unlikely to advance through the Judiciary Committee “until someone shows us why it should move.”

Among his objections, he said, is his skepticism about the cost savings claims associated with the measure.

An analysis conducted by the Legislature last year found that Michigan could save up to $6.3 million per year by allowing juvenile offenders who are serving sentences of more than 10 years to be reviewed for parole.

Also, a recent state-commissioned report by the Council of State Governments noted that Michigan’s high corrections costs — now 20 percent of the total state budget — are a result of long prison sentences. The average prisoner serves 127 percent of his or her minimum sentence, before being granted parole. The report recommended that inmates be evaluated for parole after serving the minimum sentence, adding that this could save $90.7 million and reduce the prison population by more than 4,000 inmates by 2015. These recommendations have received bipartisan support.

But Cropsey said that increasing parole review for juveniles serving long sentences and ending life without parole for juveniles is unlikely to reduce the prison population.

“You can talk about it theoretically, but when you start talking about the facts of a case, when you open up a file and look at the victims, you think, ‘This is not a good risk.‘”

Parole boards are unlikely to release people convicted of such horrible crimes, he said, and the governor has the power to commute sentences in rare cases where appropriate.

When state law was revised in 1988 to allow the sentencing of younger people to long prison terms in adult incarceration, he was initially disturbed, Cropsey said.

He said he thought: “Now, this is nuts. Are we just going to do away with the eight- and nine-year-olds?”

But his worries about very young people doing hard time were calmed by the introduction of successful legislation that allows probate judges to decide whether to sentence young people as juveniles or as adults, he added.

“This increased discretion fixes the problem,” he said. “We have life without parole here instead of the death penalty.”

Cropsey said that he was open to sitting down with anyone with information about a case that might change his mind about the package.

“I am a conservative Republican, basically a law-and-order type, but I’m also a man of faith,” he said, “Can people change? Yes, people can change.”

Source: http://michiganmessenger.com/14053/juvenile-life-without-parole-youth-sentencing-targeted-for-reform-in-legislature?disqus_reply=6899376#comment-6899376

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Jack Ebling Interviews Eartha Jane Melzer About Recent Juvenile Life Without Parole Article in the Michigan Messenger

Jack Ebling, AM 1320 WILS Lansing radio show host, interviewed Michigan Messenger fellow and journalist, Eartha Jane Melzer, on Tuesday, February 24, 2009.

Jack and Eartha discuss her recent article titled "Juveniles Sentenced to Life Without Parole Cost the State Millions," which appeared February 24, 2009 on the Michigan Messenger web site.

The article discusses the introduction of recent legislation in the Michigan Senate which seeks to abolish juvenile life without parole sentences, views espoused by proponents of the bills, and other related information. Efrén's case was referenced during their dialogue as well.

Click the play button on the left side of the flash player below to listen to Jack's interview with Eartha.



Click here to view Eartha's article on the Michigan Messenger.

Click here to view a recent post on our blog about the Michigan Senate bills seeking to abolish JLWOP sentences. The post contains links to view the bills as well.

A special thanks to our friend Jack Ebling for his continued support and advocacy of Efrén's release.

Biographical Information

Jack Ebling, host of "Ebling and You" and co-host of "Jack and Tom" on WILS, is a broadcaster and writer who has covered high school, college, and pro sports for nearly 30 years. He has been named Michigan Sportswriter of the Year three times and was inducted into the Greater Lansing Sports Hall of Fame in 2006.

Jack spent more than 24 years at the Lansing State Journal as a beat writer and columnist before moving to talk radio, television, and freelance writing. He has also been a contributor to Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News, Basketball Times, and Street & Smith’s College Football and College Basketball.

While Jack's background has been largely sports, on Ebling and You, Jack tackles an array of topics and talks with daily with political, business, entertainment and sports newsmakers in Lansing, in Michigan and around the nation.

Eartha Jane Melzer is a 1997 graduate of Antioch College with a degree in cross-cultural communications. Her documentary work has appeared in outlets as diverse as Fox News and the Inter-American Court on Human Rights.

She has worked as a freelance reporter and staff writer for the Washington Blade. Eartha received an Honorable Mention from the National Press Club for the Hume Award this year, in relation to her investigative reporting on private security company Sovereign Deed.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Jack Ebling Interviews Wendy Kenin, Commissioner, Berkeley Peace and Justice Commission, About Berkeley City Council Condemning Efrén's Sentence as Human Rights Violation

Jack Ebling, WILS 1320 AM Lansing radio show host, interviewed Wendy Kenin, Commissioner, Berkeley Peace and Justice Commission, on Friday, February 13, 2009.  They discussed the news that the Berkeley City Council (California) adopted a resolution condemning Efrén's sentence as a human rights violation on February 10, 2009.

The Berkeley City Council joined in solidarity with 192 nations of the world who have condemned the imposition of life without parole sentences on juveniles as a violation of several international treaties which the U.S. is a member party to.

Wendy discusses how the city council arrived at their decision, how she learned about Efrén's social justice work and wrongful conviction, and how she got involved in wanting to assist Efrén's campaign for justice.

A special thanks to Wendy, to Jesse Arreguin (the Councilmember who introduced the resolution), and to the Berkeley City Council for their valiant decision to uphold the principles of justice and human rights.

Click the play button on the left side of the flash player below to listen to the interview.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

New Michigan Senate Bills 173-176 Introduced Seeking to Abolish Juvenile Life Without Parole (LWOP) Sentences

We just learned that Senate Bills 173-176 were introduced January 29, 2009 in the Michigan Senate, and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee on February 3, 2009, in an effort to abolish juvenile life without parole (LWOP) sentences in Michigan. Below are links for you to download and/or view the package of bills.

You will recall that 2008 House Bills 4402-4405 were passed overwhelmingly in the Michigan House on December 4, 2008. The bills were not, however, voted on in the Senate and 2009 versions of the bills had to be reintroduced.

You are encouraged to circulate this link to people of conscience in your network who are opposed to human rights violations being perpetrated against the nation's children — our most vulnerable population.

You are also asked to visit the two blog post links that appear at the end of this message which call on you to contact our state legislators and ask them to pass this legislation. Now that we know the bill numbers people can include this information in their letters to legislators.

Please remember, if passed, the bills will not release a single prisoner. They will only provide them with the opportunity to be reviewed by the Parole Board for possible release. The bills do not abandon the concept of redemption. In fact, they seek to re-infuse it into the existing system.

These bills are very important to Efrén's life and future, and to 330+ others who were sentenced to LWOP when they were juveniles as well.

Click here to download all four bills in PDF format.

Click here to view Senate Bill 173.

Click here to view Senate Bill 174.

Click here to view Senate Bill 175.

Click here to view Senate Bill 176.

Click here to view Helen's message calling on people to contact their legislators to encourage them to abolish juvenile LWOP sentences in Michigan and how to do so.

Click here to view Efrén's message calling on people to contact their legislators to encourage them to abolish juvenile LWOP sentences in Michigan.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Follow Campaign to Free Efrén on Twitter

Dear Friends,

Members of The Injustice Must End (TIME) Committee and Efrén's family are now advancing our efforts using Twitter.

Twitter is a micro blogging platform used by millions of people around the world that allows them to publish short messages of less than 140 characters through different mediums. We have integrated Twitter into Efrén's web site, blogs, Facebook page, and MySpace page.

Anyone visiting these platforms will be able to learn all the latest information about our campaign to free Efrén or about his life by reading the messages posted via Twitter. Through this medium we will be able to reach thousands of people weekly who visit any of the platforms that are dedicated to educating people about Efrén's case.

We speak to Efrén daily on the telephone each evening — more frequently on the weekends — and will be able to share information with people about things Efrén is working on each day, his feelings, mood, plans, and the issue of juvenile life without parole (JLWOP) sentences. We will also be sharing links to new web site changes, blog posts, and other important information relevant to our campaign to free Efrén and abolish JLWOP sentences.

Businesses, corporations, organizations, churches, students, community organizers, activists, politicians, journalists, major TV news network anchors, and others are utilizing this powerful networking tool.

According to Efrén, "Taking our message to the masses and educating them about social injustice and my wrongful incarceration is essential to our continued progress. Harnessing the enormous power of social networking sites keeps us reaching out to people all over the world who are being affected by this injustice. Through the use of Twitter the world can watch our story continue to unfold before their eyes."

People who have Twitter accounts are asked to also add our Twitter page to the list of pages they follow. Our Twitter URL is http://twitter.com/free_efren.

In Solidarity,

The Injustice Must End (TIME)
Committee to Free Efrén Paredes, Jr.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Support Efrén and Our Efforts to Abolish JLWOP Sentences in Michigan

The following message was posted before we were made aware that the new bills seeking to abolish juvenile life without parole sentences in Michigan were re-introduced in the Michigan Senate. Click here to read our post about the introduction of the new bills.


Dear Friends,

We just learned that a legislator in Iowa has introduced new legislation to abolish juvenile life without parole (JLWOP) in that state. That makes six states that are currently working on this, which includes Michigan.

At a recent JLWOP workshop at the University of Michigan, State Representative Alma Wheeler Smith recommended that we contact other State Representatives who voted to oppose passage of legislation to abolish JLWOP sentences.

Representative Smith stated that we should work to get the other State Representatives who opposed the legislation and encourage them to change their votes. She also suggested that we attempt to learn why they opposed it, so we can do a better job of addressing their concerns when the bills are re-introduced.

Click here to view a condensed Michigan House Journal that shows how State Representatives voted for House Bills 4402-4405 which were aimed at abolishing JLWOP sentences. (This condensed document only includes the pages pertaining to House Bills 4402-4405, as the entire document was over 90 pages. Also, the nay voters that were not re-elected are crossed out in blue.)

While the bills passed the Michigan House they did not get voted on in the Michigan Senate. Representative Smith informed us that the bills are being reintroduced in the coming months so that there will be time for the State Senate to hold hearings and get the legislation passed this year.

In preparation for introduction of these very important bills we are asking you to please contact state legislators in the Michigan House and Senate and encourage them to support an end to the imposition of JLWOP sentences when the bills are introduced.

Please contact state legislators in your own districts from both the Michigan House and the Senate. Representative Smith suggested contacting each one who voted no, regardless of the district. She said they represent all of the people of Michigan, not just those in their districts.

At the end of this message there are links that will help you identify your state legislators and contact info for those that voted no. We ask that if you contact legislator(s) that you please let me know the names of those contacted, even a 'Copy To' or 'Forward' of your email is fine. (Click here to send me an email.) It would be very much appreciated. (Also, if anyone needs assistance constructing a letter to send to them, please feel free to ask.)

Thank you all so much for your continued support and for helping us advance our campaign to free Efrén. It is our prayer that he will soon receive the long overdue justice he deserves. Efrén is in good spirits and he continues to work each day writing people, educating others, and being productive.

As Efrén recently said, "I will never stop fueling the flame of hope with an unyielding desire for victory!"

Warm Regards and Continuing in the Struggle,

Helen

Locate State Senator: http://tinyurl.com/yu5wkv
Locate State Representative: http://tinyurl.com/22bgf9
University of Michigan JLWOP Event Blog Post: http://tinyurl.com/btnvmg

Link to message from Efrén supporting this effort: http://tinyurl.com/al9fmn

This post was updated 2/9/09 at 10:25 PM.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Efrén Family Members to Speak About His Case and Juvenile Life Without Parole (JLWOP) Sentences at University of Michigan's 23rd Annual MLK Symposium


Two family members of Efrén will be discussing his case and the subject of life without parole sentences for juveniles at the The University of Michigan's 23rd Annual MLK Symposium on Monday, January 19, 2009 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. The panel discussion, "Only in America: Children Without Parole," will also include State Representative Alma Wheeler Smith and others.

This event takes place one day before the historic inauguration of Barack Obama as our next President. You are encouraged to invite friends and family to attend this very important symposium. Several of Efrén's supporters will be present as well. We look forward to seeing you all there!

Location

University of Michigan Union Pendleton Room
530 S. State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
View map: http://tinyurl.com/6uuxsz

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Jack Ebling Interviews Efrén on WILS 1320 AM About City of Berkeley Peace and Justice Commission Condemning His Sentence as Human Rights Violation

Jack Ebling, WILS 1320 AM Lansing radio show host, interviewed Efrén this evening, Wednesday, January 7, 2008. They discussed the recent news that the City of Berkeley (California) Peace and Justice Commission passed a recommendation condemning Efrén's sentence as a human rights violation.

The Commission joined in solidarity with 192 nations of the world who have condemned the imposition of life without parole sentences on juveniles as a violation of several international treaties which the U.S. is a member party to.

The Commission will now submit a proposed resolution to the Berkeley City Council to consider adopting later this month. Similar proposed resolutions will be introduced in other municipalities across the nation as well.

Click the play button on the left side of the flash player below to listen to the interview.

Free Efrén Paredes, Jr. Poster and T-Shirt Slide Show

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