EAST PALTO ALTO MAN GOES FROM 5 YEAR SENTENCE TO 3 MONTH OUTPATIENT PROGRAM
Summary of the Case:
C. Majors was facing charges of possession for sale. Allegedly, he sold drugs worth $20 to an undercover officer. While he admits doing so, what he was unwilling to accept was an extremely harsh five year prison sentence. The long sentence was due to previous drug charges from over 10 years prior, when C was a different man. When he came to De-Bug, he was unhappy with his public defender who he felt was pushing him to take the deal of 5 years. At the time of the incident, C had been the sole provider for his children, the sole caretaker of his disabled mother, and had been on a steady path of rehabilitating his life since he was released from prison in 2000. He admits to doing drugs, but it had been an addiction he kept hidden from his family – all the while being able to meet his responsibilities as a father and as a son. His children’s mother had been in and out of jail and had been cited for numerous child endangerment incidents. If C were to be sent to prison, it would mean his children being sent to the foster care system and his mother possibly being conserved, left with no one to care for them.
C really wanted the Judge to know how sorry he felt for doing so and how much prison was going to be devastating for his children. “I can handle the environment itself,” he says, “but I don’t want my kids to have to go through it.” To actively work on his case, C and members of De-Bug supported him by developing a mitigation package that would help inform the court of the factors they should consider when deciding his sentence. Even before his sentence, without any prodding from his attorney or anyone, C himself enrolled in AA classes, joined parenting and anger management classes, found a steady job after months of looking (even before the incident happened), and assumed full custody of his children. However, he felt that his public defender was not willing to look at the other circumstances in his life that would make going to prison deal a devastating blow to his family.
The main point of the mitigation package was to give the court (particularly probation and the judge) a full picture of who C is. We wanted to show that while C did feel extremely sorry for what happened, he belonged in the community, not in prison. And as a community, we were ready to support him to succeed in rehabilitation. His mitigation package included:
· Letters of support from his mother, father, stepmother, community organizations and leaders, and his children’s school psychologists who testified to how vital C was to his kids’ lives;
· Certificates of completion and progress in his drug rehab classes/ anger management/ parenting classes;
· High school completion certificate;
· Paycheck stubs showing consistency of holding down a job;
· Transcripts of his children’s participation and attendance at school that show how under C’s care, the kids have been doing well (getting straight A’s, student of the month, etc)
· A photo journal showing how C takes care of his children from waking them, feeding them breakfast, taking them to school, taking them to afterschool programs, doing homework with them, spending time with them, and putting them to bed