Clemency for Corene De La Cruz, Incarcerated Domestic Violence Survivor

Movement:Justice for Wrongfully Punished or Killed
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Clemency for Corene De La Cruz, Incarcerated Domestic Violence Survivor

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Photo of David (brother), Corene, and Beatrice (mother)

Corene De La Cruz is an incarcerated survivor of domestic violence who has been imprisoned for 11 years. By the time Corene was convicted and sentenced to 22 years and 8 months in prison, she suffered from the long-term effects of psychological and sexual abuse. Corene has already served a 6-year base term, and she is now serving time on enhancements alone. Join us in asking Governor Newsom to commute Corene De La Cruz’s sentence and allow her to reunite with her loving family and community.

Background

Corene’s arrest and prosecution followed a tragic incident that began with her planning to commit suicide to escape the abuse of her boyfriend. She accidentally injured him when he grabbed the gun she planned to use. He proceeded to beat her and further threaten her life. Corene escaped the scene because she was afraid he would kill her with one of his guns. She drove to her friend’s house and her friend’s brother, who was a police officer, reported the incident.

Corene’s trial and conviction were compromised by her grossly inadequate defense, especially in the context of domestic violence evidence that was never considered. Corene experienced severe and sustained physical abuse and psychological terror from her boyfriend, who she was in a relationship with for 11 years, since the age of 22. Her boyfriend’s abuse included emotional violence, sexual humiliation, and verbal abuse, including blaming Corene for being sexually abused as a child. His climate of terror and violence, combined with Corene’s childhood experience of sexual and domestic violence, were central factors in Corene's suicidal behavior.

Corene’s attorney did not play available audio or video recordings of the incident at trial, which would have shown her boyfriend beating her and berating her with racist slurs. Her attorney said he didn’t want the jury to be offended by his racism. Introducing audio and video evidence would have corroborated Corene’s version of events, as it showed her saying she came to commit suicide because of his abuse. Her attorney also did not submit any of Corene’s suicide notes, or expert testimony on how intimate partner battering and its effects impacted Corene.

The jury found Corene not guilty of attempted murder, but guilty of “residential burglary,” which carries a sentence of 6 years. However, despite having no prior history of criminalization, Corene’s sentence was increased to almost 23 years using California’s sentencing enhancements, which, appallingly, included an enhancement that turned the blame on her for domestic violence. 

In Corene’s words: “What brought me to my incarceration 11 years ago was a toxic and abusive long-term relationship, where I was unfortunately too traumatized to fully understand the severity of my circumstances. I am a living example of how one's life can be forever altered due to a lack of interest and understanding by the justice system about the violence I suffered that resulted in my suicidal state at the time. I had no idea the justice system could impact one's future and freedom in this way, without considering context, including how I was victimized.”

While incarcerated, Corene has maintained an exemplary record and completed countless programs for self-improvement. She has also dedicated herself to serving her community and become a mentor to countless women in prison.

Corene is currently grieving the death of her younger brother David from COVID-19. This tragic loss has only increased the need for Corene and her family to be reunited to heal together. Corene has a comprehensive reentry plan and extensive support available to her, including from several reentry programs and community-based organizations, as well as her loving mother and family.  

Please join us in asking Governor Newsom to support domestic violence survivors by commuting Corene De La Cruz’s sentence.

*Please note: If you choose to sign, change.org provides an opportunity for you to "chip in" money. This money goes to change.org to promote the petition so that it reaches more people, not to Corene or her family.*

0 have signed. Let’s get to 35,000!
At 35,000 signatures, this petition becomes one of the top signed on Change.org!