Time Saved: 3 Families Support Each Other to Beat a Collective of 41 Years to Life in Prison

Images taken at last week's ACJP meeting, where three families all successfully resolved their cases through mutual support. These images are a part of ACJP's "Time Saved" Series, documenting the stories, and amount of time saved from incarceration, due to community intervention in court cases. Photos by Charisse Domingo.

We took these pictures at the end of the weekly ACJP meeting last Sunday. It is of three families who didn’t know each other a month ago, but will be forever united in their life stories. They live in different counties, even speak different languages at home. One is a father trying to unite with his children. Another is a teen who faced as many years in prison as he has lived so far. The third is a young father, just starting the process of raising his new daughter. The common experience was that they all were facing the criminal justice system, and knew they would be stronger if they had support. The week of this picture, all three families – through their perseverance, efforts, and support of each other – all resolved their cases in a way that brought them home to resume their lives. They shared with each other techniques on how to better connect with the appointed attorneys, how to create ACJP mitigation packets to influence the prosecutors, and held each other up to not feel pressured into pleas they didn’t feel they deserved.

These image is part of ACJP’s “Time Saved” series – documenting the stories, as well as the amount of incarceration time stopped, through the intervention of family and community in the court system.

Luciano came to De-Bug about 4 weeks ago seeking support for his son Fernando who was facing 11 charges – 6 of which were felonies and 5 misdemeanors, 2 strikes -- for a total of 15 years.  With the help of his church community and De-Bug, Luciano put together a mitigation packet full of letters, school certificates, family photos, and community organizations willing to offer programs for his son upon release.  His attorney worked tirelessly on behalf of Fernando, and as a result, Fernando was able to come home to his family. 

Marcel was facing a third strike. His partner Shoshana did the investigative research to prove that the offense was only a misdemeanor, thus reducing the charge from its original status as a felony. The result was only a few weeks in jail rather then the potential life sentence. Shoshana learned how to be pro-active in building a defense from ACJP co-founder Gail.

Glen shows the "snapout" proving his case was dismissed "in the interests of justice." Glen was originally told he should just take a plea for loitering, but declined to take the offer. He was certain he was wrongfully arrested, and insisted he should go to trial. At the next court date his case was dismissed.

The three ACJPers showing their collective strength outide of the De-Bug building. They come from different walks of life, different communities, but their families formed a powerful model of community support.

This photo was actually taken a few weeks before the other photos. It was after the end of the first meeting that Luciano came to after his son was first arrested. He built a strong bond with Gail, who navigated him through the ways he could play a role in his son's release. A few weeks after this photo, Gail got the opportunity to meet Luciano's son, who thanked her for supporting him and his dad.

The families standing by the table the met around every week as they supported each other through their cases.

About Charisse Domingo


Charisse Domingo is a photojournalist with Silicon Valley De-Bug, and co-founder of the Albert Cobarrubias Justice Project. Domingo is also the co-founder of the Darkroom at Debug, a community for film photographers.

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