Help us #BringJoseHome!
Help us #BringJoseHome!
Jose Armendariz has been incarcerated for more than 15 years. His experiences as a Latinx man behind bars have motivated him to become a student, writer, and organizer. Over the past year and a half, he has reported conditions of confinement issues, advocated on his behalf and that of others in custody, opposed jail expansion and backwards criminal justice propositions and supported voter education and registration in jails. Jose is an inside organizer with Transforming Justice OC (TJOC) and Initiate Justice (IJ). He has also supported many efforts of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California (ACLU SoCal) and the Stop the Musick Coalition.
At 16, Jose was tried as an adult and sentenced to 90 years to life - a de-facto life without parole sentence - despite not being the shooter in a crime that resulted in the tragic loss of two lives. With the support of his family, Jose appealed his conviction and the Court of Appeal reversed it in 2013. The Court held that Jose’s conviction violated the Eighth Amendment because it was cruel and unusual punishment to incarcerate a child for such an extreme period of time. Since his conviction was reversed, his case was remanded to juvenile court because of changes in California law. In November 2016, California voters overwhelmingly passed Proposition 57, the Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act, which increased parole and good behavior opportunities for certain people and allowed judges, not prosecutors, to decide whether to try minors as adults in court.
Jose has been candid about the challenging journey to accountability. His openness about past behaviors and missteps reveals a deep reflection of his actions and the social and structural conditions that contribute to such behavior in our society. He has thought deeply, sincerely, and critically about harm, the root causes of harmful behavior and the importance of accounting for it and repairing relationships in a transformative way. He has been proactive in seeking support, securing opportunities, and creating a plan for his potential release.
In his own words, “Everything I do I do because of my desire for redemption. But deep down there is also a part of me that hopes to never find it because my search for redemption has ignited a fire within me that has given me a purpose and I never want to satiate or satisfy the hunger that drives me to do good and to live a life of service. I am not a perfect man as I still have challenges and struggles that everyday I work to overcome but I have certainly become a better man and I can only thank my loved ones and my community for that.”
Jose’s lived experience, commitment to racial and social justice, and interpersonal skills have allowed him to make valuable contributions to policy campaigns in OC and beyond. His written and audio work have been used to provide public comment at local and statewide meetings to advance demands that center the wellbeing and needs of people in jails, and his op-eds have been published by the Voice of OC, JURIST, and Chispa. His experiences have been written about in La Opinion, Cal Matters, and LAist.
Upon his release, Jose would like to pursue a degree in journalism or creative writing to expose the inhumanity of jails and prisons and uplift the experiences of incarcerated people to inform policy, legislative and organizing work. We need your help to bring him home! His family and community await his return.
Please sign this petition to express your support for Jose’s return to the community and share it with your networks.
More from Jose’s family and friends:
"My only sibling, Jose Armendariz has been incarcerated for 15 long years. He is missed at home every second of the day. My daughter, his niece, has yet to be hugged by her uncle. It is time to bring my brother home. It is time to bring Jose home, so that he can continue his advocacy on the outside and flourish." - Johanna Diaz (sister)
"Le pido a Dios que pueda pronto darte muchos abrazos que no te he dado por 15 largos años de prisión por una sentencia injusta que te dieron siendo un menor de edad. Creo que ya es hora que te dejen regresar a casa donde tu familia que te ama y te espera con los brazos abiertos. Primero Dios así será tu mama que siempre te tiene en su mente y corazón y oraciones con mucho amor." - Reyna Diaz (mother)
Armendariz: Why Governor Newsom’s Recall Brouhaha Should be Directed at OC Sheriff Don Barnes (voiceofoc.org)
Armendariz: Sheriff Barnes, Rise of an Empire (voiceofoc.org)
Armendariz: Caught the Coronavirus in Jail? “Tough Biscuits” (voiceofoc.org)
The Confederate in the Room Must Go - JURIST - Commentary - Legal News & Commentary
El Confederado en la Habitación debe Marcharse - JURIST - Commentary - Legal News & Commentary
No On Prop 25: Treating a Venomous Bite with Poison - Chispa (chispaoc.org)