Efren Paredes, Jr. Resentencing Hearing Support Letter
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In early 2016 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the case of Montgomery v. Louisiana, 136 S.Ct. 718 (2016), that mandatory life without parole (LWOP) sentences for juvenile offenders are unconstitutional. The court ordered the resentencing of all 2,500 prisoners nationwide who previously received the sentence. Michigan is home to approximately 363 prisoners that have to be resentenced, including Efren Paredes, Jr.
On July 21, 2016 the Berrien County Prosecutor's Office filed a motion seeking to re-impose LWOP sentences on all 10 of the prisoners from that county who previously received mandatory LWOP sentences when they were juveniles. Efren is among those included in the list as well. The majority of the prisoners are people of color.
The motion was filed against Efren seeking a LWOP sentence despite the U.S. Supreme Court making it abundantly clear that upon re-sentencing LWOP sentences should become uncommon and rarely imposed on juvenile offenders. The court went on to say that sentencing courts must also establish that prisoners who receive the unforgiving sentence are incapable of change for the remainder of their lives.
As of August 1, 2016 Michigan prosecutors have defiantly filed motions seeking to re-impose LWOP sentences on 218 of the 363 cases that need to be resentenced in the state in direct contravention with the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Montgomery v. Louisiana.
The facts in Efren's case and his list of accomplishments while incarcerated are documented online and available at www.fb.com/Free.Efren and www.4Efren.com Click here to read an impressive list of Efren's accomplishments during his incarceration.
A template letter is available below for people to sign who would like to express their support for Efren. Once signed, the letter is sent electronically to Judge Angela Pasula and Efren's family. The letter asks the court to impose a 25-year minimum to 60-year maximum sentence on Efren when he is resentenced in the coming months. This is the minimum sentence allowed by Michigan law pursuant to MCL 769.25(9).
The issue of Efren's innocence can not be addressed at his resentencing hearing. The resentencing hearing will focus solely on Efren's conviction that occurred in 1989 in accordance with the U.S. Supreme Court mandate.
At his hearing Efren and his attorney will produce overwhelming evidence about why the LWOP sentence being sought against him is inappropriate and unlawful. Character testimony will be offered on Efren's behalf at the hearing in addition to testimony by expert witnesses.
We invite you to please sign the letter below and invite others to do the same. We ask that you please share a link to this page on your Facebook wall, groups, and pages, as well as on Twitter, and other popular social network platforms. Please also share a link to the page via e-mail, listservs, and post to web sites and blogs.
Those who wish to write their own personal letter separate from the template letter can do so. If you choose to do so please include information about your interactions with Efren and your thoughts about his character today. For example, you can discuss phone conversations, visits, or exchanging letters with him.
We ask that you address any letters you write to Judge Angela Pasula. Upon completion of the letters please mail them to Efren's family so they can make copies for Efren and his attorney, and submit the original letter to the court on your behalf. The letters should be mailed to:
Efren Paredes, Jr.
P.O. Box 5
Paw Paw, MI 49079
If it is more convenient for you then you can send a scanned PDF version of your letter as an e-mail attachment to Efren's family at the e-mail address which appears below and they will print it out for you for the court.
Your assistance with this campaign would be most appreciated.
The Injustice Must End (TIME)
Committee to Free Efren Paredes, Jr.
Web Site: www.4Efren.com
Use template letter below:
Judge Angela Pasula:
I am writing regarding the future resentencing hearing of Efren Paredes, Jr., Berrien County Trial Court number 89-1127-FC-Z.
The U.S. Supreme Court made it abundantly clear in Montgomery v. Louisiana, 136 S.Ct. 718 (2016), that the imposition of life without parole (LWOP) sentences on juvenile offenders must be unequivocally "rare," "uncommon," and only imposed on those cases where it can be clearly established that the person is "incapable of change" the remainder of her/his life. The Michigan Court of Appeals reiterated this language in People v. Hyatt, Mich. App. #325741 (2016).
Efren has exhibited enormous personal growth and development during the past nearly 29 years of imprisonment. He has made numerous selfless contributions to society mentoring young people, fostering violence reduction, and improving race-relations. Additionally, he has successfully completed a broad range of education and self-help programs which have helped him develop invaluable communication and conflict resolution skills.
Countless posts documenting the positive work Efren has done transforming lives are featured on various blogs and social media sites. Archived interviews Efren has done with various print, television, and radio media, both nationally and internationally, are also featured on dozens of web sites. Click here to view a list of his impressive accomplishments.
Other important factors the court should consider are Efren's very young age at the time of his arrest (i.e., he was 15-years-old), he had no previous juvenile record, no history of violent behavior during incarceration, he has employment opportunities and home placement awaiting him upon release, and he enjoys the long-time, overwhelming support of family and friends.
During the past year 95 prisoners sentenced to mandatory LWOP when they were juveniles have been resentenced in Michigan. Of the prisoners who were 15-years-old at the time of their arrest, 90% of them have received 25- to 60-year sentences or sentences equalling the time they have already served, making them eligible for parole consideration. I believe Efren is equally deserving of this opportunity.
The Berrien County Prosecutor's Office filed a motion with your court on July 21, 2016 -- over a year ago -- seeking a LWOP sentence against Efren when he is resentenced. I respectfully request that you dismiss the motion and impose a more reasonable and humane sentence of 29 to 60 years. The sentence is permitted according to MCL 769.25.
A 29- to 60-year sentence is a very lengthy sentence for a person arrested at age 15. Twenty-nine years is a startling two-thirds of Efren's entire lifespan thus far. A recent report revealed that Michigan adults who negotiate guilty pleas for first- or second-degree murder serve an average of 12.2 years. The Michigan Parole Board would also have jurisdiction to potentially keep Efren incarcerated until the year 2049. There is no guarantee of release prior to that date.
The Parole Board would utilize their wealth of resources to safely assess future release consideration as they do for thousands of parolees each year. They are in a better position to assess potential release risk factors than a court at the time of sentencing. This also prevents a court from engaging in guesswork or speculation about rehabilitation years in advance.
I ask this court to embrace the concept of redemption and consider the possibility of change which psychologists, teachers, parents and nearly every adult understands young people have the enormous capacity for. No mistake or success defines a person for their entire life. This is even more true in the case of juveniles who will undergo many changes throughout their lifetimes.
If released, I believe Efren would pose no danger to society, he would be a productive citizen, and he would have a great deal to contribute to the world. In the interest of justice and spirit of fairness I ask this honorable court to impose a 29- to 60-year sentence on Efren when he is resentenced.
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