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PCJP’s Defense of Mary Jones

Written April 3rd, 2014 by

PCJP: Over 75 Lifers Released

Written April 3rd, 2014 by

For more than thirty years, the Post-Conviction Justice Project has represented thousands of clients before state and federal parole boards, and in both the state and federal court systems.  For the past twenty years, students in the Project have represented state prisoners, mostly women incarcerated at the California Institution for Women, serving life-term sentences for murder convictions.  Many committed crimes related to a history of physical or sexual abuse, and some were convicted for killing their abusers.  PCJP client Rose Parker, now Dr. Rose Parker-Sterling, was one of only three life-term inmates to be released on parole under then-Governor Gray Davis.  Her release in 2000 marked the first in an ever-growing number of PCJP clients to be released.

In 2008, PCJP students prevailed in a habeas challenge to parole denial on behalf of long-time client Sandra Davis-Lawrence in the California Supreme Court. The Lawrence decision was the first case where the California Supreme Court ruled in favor of an inmate in a parole case.  The Project’s victory in Lawrence changed the landscape of judicial review in parole habeas challenges.  At the time of the Lawrence decision, twenty-one PCJP clients had been released from prison.  In the last five years, another sixty-one clients have been released through grants of parole or habeas challenges.  The vast majority of thesse women and men are giving back to their communities through drug counseling, work with at-risk youth, and various religious organizations.

PCJP’s most recently released client, Mary Jones, served nearly 33 years for crimes committed by her batterer.

Currently, the Project represents fifty clients at the California Institution for Women and other state prisons across California.

To read more about the Project’s featured clients, click here.

SB 260 Passes the Assembly Floor

Written September 9th, 2013 by

SB 260 – Youthful Offender Parole Hearing – Passes the Assembly Floor

Senate Bill 260, authored by Senator Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley), passed the Assembly floor with a vote of 51-21. SB 260 requires the Board of Parole Hearings to conduct a youth offender parole hearing to consider release of offenders who committed specified crimes prior to being 18 years old and who were sentenced to state prison. The Post-Conviction Justice Project was a co-sponsor of the bill along with Human Rights Watch, Youth Law Center, and Friends Committee on Legislation.

This bill will head back to the Senate for concurrence. If the bill passes the Senate floor on concurrence, the bill will head to Governor Brown for final consideration.

For more details and specific bill language, click here.

PCJP Hosts Second Annual “Lifer School”

Written February 12th, 2013 by

Heidi Rummel and Keith Wattley (third from left) joined by two former lifers.

 This past Saturday, the Post-Conviction Justice Project and UnCommon Law, a non-profit legal services provider in Oakland, California that specializes in challenging unlawful prison conditions including the parole consideration process for lifers, hosted the second annual “Lifer School” at the USC Gould School of Law.  Over the course of the all-day event, speakers addressed the various aspects of a parole-suitability determination, from both sides of the process. 

Attorney Keith Wattley of UnCommon Law, an experienced parole lawyer who has represented thousands of prisoners before all levels of state and federal courts and administrative boards, gave a presentation on the present state of the law.  Psychologist Yoshado Lang, Ph.D. discussed the critical role of psychological evaluations and risk assessments in the determination of suitability for parole.  Board of Parole Hearings Executive Officer Jennifer Shaffer and Chief Counsel Howard Moseley discussed aspects of the process from the administrative side and took questions from the participants. 

A panel, including Heidi Rummel and former lifers, answers questions.

Later in the day, former lifers Heid Smith, Carletha Steward, Teresa Ethridge, and Charlotte Henderson discussed how they overcame insight challenges inuring the parole process.  Experienced parole attorneys Heidi Rummel, Debbie Page, and Michael Parente, ’12, discussed client preparation and building an administrative record, followed by an open Q and A session where participants, lawyers, and former lifers discussed common pitfalls and the role of attorneys and law students in lifer parole considerations.  The event’s attendees included students from UCLA, USC, and Loyola law schools; lawyers; law professors; former lifers; and family members of inmates.  

 

Two Students Lecture on Parole Process at San Quentin Prison

Written February 6th, 2013 by

Third-year clinical students Ryan Appleby and Jackson Trugman, along with supervising attorney Heidi Rummel, recently presented a three-part lecture on California Parole Law and Lifer Hearings to members of Kid C.A.T. and their guests at San Quentin Prison. Kid C.A.T., which stands for Creating Awareness Together, is a group of inmates who received life sentences for crimes they committed as juveniles. To an audience of about forty inmates, Appleby and Trugman covered topics ranging from “insight” to parole plans over the course of three sessions.

To learn more about Kid C.A.T., and keep up-to-date with its going-ons, click here to view its Facebook page.

PCJP Files Request Urging Gov. Brown to Grant Parole to Terminally Ill Inmate

Written February 6th, 2013 by

Glenda Jo Virgil at California Institution for Women, January 2013

On Thursday, January 31, 2013, second-year PCJP student Julia Deixler filed an official request with Governor Brown to release Glenda Jo Virgil, 66, who has served 25 years for killing her physically, mentally, and emotionally abusive partner who, after beating Ms. Virgil for several hours, threatened to kill her to prevent her from leaving him.

Ms. Virgil is wheelchair-bound and in poor health. In September, doctors diagnosed Ms. Virgil with an aggressive form of lung cancer, and earlier this year she suffered four pulmonary embolisms. Ms. Virgil would like to spend the end of her life with her family.

In August, a panel of the Parole Board denied her parole for three more years for smoking cigarettes in prison. However, under California law, the Governor has 30 days to reverse the parole denial.

According to Heidi Rummel, co-director of PCJP, “the law has changed since the Board’s denial and we hope Governor Brown will do the right thing and grant her parole. Virgil has Stage III cancer and her health is rapidly deteriorating.”

See the press release by Gilien Silsby here.

Client Sentenced As Juvenile Gives Back, Is Found Suitable For Parole

Written January 22nd, 2013 by

Gary "Malachi" Scott at San Quentin Prison

Gary “Malachi” Scott has been incarcerated his entire adult life.  Despite this, he has matured into a thoughtful, kind, and talented adult.  On December 27, 2012, the Board of Parole hearing found him suitable for parole.  Governor Brown will make his final decision May 2013.

Malachi was born in South Los Angeles to a single working mother and grew up in a chaotic home and a violent neighborhood.  At thirteen years old, Malachi became involved with the local gang because it was the one place where he believed he belonged. At fifteen, he agreed to help an older gang member commit a robbery. The robbery victim was shot and killed during a struggle over the gun, and Malachi was sentenced to state custody at age sixteen.

A couple of years into his incarceration, Malachi removed himself from the gang and has since dedicated his life to speaking to at-risk youth about the dangers of gangs and repeating his mistakes. He and a small group of fellow inmates founded “Kid C.A.T.” (Creating Awareness Together), a group for inmates convicted as juveniles committed to addressing the underlying issues leading to juvenile crime and incarceration through education, mentorship, and restorative practices.  The group has partnered directly with community leaders to develop a curriculum to educate people inside and outside of prison, and has participated extensively in community service projects. Malachi currently serves as Treasurer of the Executive Board and hopes to continue Kid C.A.T.’s mission by forming a similar non-profit organization outside of prison. In addition to Kid C.A.T., Malachi is a leader in a variety of self-help groups including the Victim Offender Education Group (VOEG), Narcotics Anonymous, and the San Quentin Utilization of Inmate Resources, Experiences and Studies (SQUIRES).

Malachi is the sports writer for The San Quentin News, the only prisoner-run newspaper in California. Recognizing his outstanding writing, The New York Times selected his piece about incarcerated juveniles for online publication. In the piece, he discusses the difficulty of rehabilitating juvenile offenders in dangerous prison settings.

Malachi is a remarkable man deserving of release. He has the support of numerous prison staff and volunteers.  He has firm parole plans, including a paid full-time job offer to work with at risk youth and a stable residence. Please join us in urging Governor Brown to allow Gary Scott’s grant of parole to stand.

If interested in reading some of Malachi’s work, click here for his New York Times article and here for the San Quentin News website.

To learn more about Kid C.A.T., and keep up-to-date with its going-ons, click here to view its Facebook page.

PCJP Alumnus Elected to Washington State Supreme Court

Written December 10th, 2012 by

Sheryl Gordon McCloud, USC Class of 1984 and alumnus of the Post-Conviction Justice Project, was elected to the Washington State Supreme Court on November 6, 2012.

For over two decades, Justice McCloud has been a criminal defense attorney with an active appellate practice — including hundreds of arguments before the Washington State Supreme Court.

She will assume office on January 14, 2013 and will serve a six-year term on the high court. She has promised “to uphold our rights as promised by the Constitution and ensure equal justice for all.”

Join Our LinkedIn Alumni Network!

Written November 1st, 2012 by

Please join our newly created alumni network on LinkedIn by clicking here and share with your friends!

Sign the Petition to Parole 65-year-old Glenda Jo Virgil

Written October 31st, 2012 by

Glenda Jo Virgil, 65, has served 25 years for killing her physically, mentally, and emotionally abusive partner who, after beating Ms. Virgil for several hours, threatened to kill her to prevent her from leaving him.

Ms. Virgil is wheelchair-bound and in poor health. In September, doctors diagnosed Ms. Virgil with an aggressive form of lung cancer, and earlier this year she suffered four pulmonary embolisms.

Ms. Virgil would like to spend the end of her life with her family. In August, a panel of the Parole Board denied her parole for three more years for smoking cigarettes in prison. It is now up to the full Board and the Governor to determine whether the three-year denial will stand — and whether she will spend her last days in prison. Sign the petition below to urge the Board and Governor to reconsider the denial.

Sign the petition, and view more information about Ms. Virgil, by clicking here.

Read the NPR article about Ms. Virgil and victims of abuse like her by clicking here.

Designed by PCJP in Los Angeles, California
©2017 The Post-Conviction Justice Project