Justice for Jesse Meraz
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To California Governor Jerry Brown and the Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation, Jesse Meraz is just a six-character inmate number. But to me he is a faithful, hard-working, loving husband and father. You see, Jesse was thrown back into prison even after serving his sentence and our family is in a tail spin.
Jesse made some bad decisions when he was a kid and before he even went to his first middle school dance, like too many men of color he was just another statistic in the criminal justice system.
Jesse and I make no excuses for his bad behavior. He was hanging out with the wrong crowd, skipping school, and doing drugs. It wasn’t long before he was arrested for possession of a firearm. By his mid-20s he had been accused of four felonies and was serving his sentences. Under California’s draconian three-strikes law, he was looking at a life sentence for the non-violent crimes he committed. But in 2014, a Court of Appeals, reversed two of the charges and Jesse was resentenced to what we all believed was the maximum sentence under the law. Since he had already served seven years, Jesse was released with probation.
Jesse was 36-years-old when he left prison and he worked hard to make the most of his second chance. He got a job, a good union job as an ironworker with Local 433. That’s no small feat for someone with a criminal record. He remained drug-and-drink-free. He obeyed all laws, had zero run-ins with law enforcement, and fulfilled all the requirements of his probation. He had even began getting his tattoos removed with the help of Homeboy Industry in Los Angeles.
As a family, we both worked hard to provide for our four kids. We are home owners and during the housing crunch when we fell behind on our payments, Jesse worked every day to get us caught up. We did not have to rely of government services for anything. We attended church regularly, made sure our kids did well in school, and we paid our taxes. We were productive members of our community and Jesse had finally put all the mistakes of the past behind him.
Then suddenly in all came to an abrupt halt. The Riverside District Attorney (Indio office) filed a petition to reverse the appeal that got him out in 2014. At his court hearing, Jesse had more than 20 people show up to speak on his behalf and we also had character letters from several community members including the former Indio Chief of Police but the judge did not allow us to present anything. The District Attorney argued that Jesse should not benefit from the new laws and would have to be resentenced under the old three-strikes law. He was sentenced to 25-years-to-life. Jesse was placed back into custody on January 30, 2017.
I have worked for Riverside County for almost a decade now. I believe in a rehabilitation system that punishes those who commit crimes and then allows that person to do their time and move on. Additionally, as a taxpayer, I do not want to have to pay for another inmate when he has already served his time and has a proven record of living as a productive member of society who is not reliant on the government dime.
Please sign my petition to ask the court to reverse the latest sentence and release my husband. Our family wants to go on living our lives quietly and without fear of having to pay for my husband’s mistakes from his past.
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