Recently, a jury in Rancho Cucamonga affirmed that sexual abuse in California’s prisons is unjustifiable. The jury unanimously decided that the civil rights of Guillermo Ruelas, Oscar Miranda, Alejandro Espinoza, and Martin Mendoza had been violated by James Shelby, a former guard at the Heman G. Stark Youth Prison. The lives of these four young men were forever changed by the sexual abuse they suffered in the hands of those entrusted with their care in the Division of Juvenile Justice.
This decision demands accountability from all of our State's prison guards to treat inmates with dignity and respect. That is just one basic step in creating a juvenile justice system where youth can change their mistakes into motivation and turn their lives around.
We have learned that the state intends to appeal the decision. Do not let California justify sexual abuse. Please stand with us in telling Attorney General Jerry Brown not to appeal the decision in this case. Furthermore, ask him to stop using California’s precious resources for the guards’ defense.
The young men's nightmare started 10 years ago. The jury's decision is small solace for the abuse the young men experienced, yet sends the bigger message that sexual abuse is unacceptable. Please do not seek an appeal of the judgment that holds the Division of Juvenile Justice accountable for the deplorable abuse suffered by the four young men. The State should not spend any additional resources (especially in this time of economic crisis) on further defending actions that have traumatized four young lives. I urge you to let the judgment stand as a stern warning that the abuse of our young people in the DJJ will not be tolerated and will no longer be defended by taxpayer money.
Thank you for your time,