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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Fast for Justice for Efren Paredes, Jr., the 300 Michigan Juvenile Lifers, and 2,000 Juvenile Lifers Throughout the USA

This is a call by The Injustice Must End (TIME) Committee to join and support a fast during Holy Week 2008 on behalf of Efren Paredes, Jr., the over 300 Michigan prisoners, and 2,000 other juveniles across the country sentenced as juveniles to mandatory life without parole. These are veritable death sentences and have been ecumenically condemned by the international community. In a season of public passion, we are passionate about their freedom and release.

The fast will begin on the evening of Palm Sunday, March 16, 2008 and conclude on Holy Saturday, March 22, 2008. A press conference will be held Monday, March 17, in Detroit at 10:00 A.M. in front of the Cadillac Place complex on W. Grand Boulevard, to declare the fasters' public intercession on behalf of Efren Paredes, Jr., the 15-year-old Latino honor student wrongly convicted of murder and robbery by a nearly all-White jury in Berrien County, Michigan.

The injustice perpetrated against Efren occurred in 1989. He was sentenced to two life sentences without the possibility of parole and one parolable life sentence. The fast marks the beginning of Efren's 19th year of incarceration. To learn more about this injustice you are invited to view our web site at

The fast supports the commutation request recently submitted to Governor Granholm on Efren's behalf and House Bills 4402-4405 currently pending in the Michigan House of Representatives. Enacting the bills would abolish the imposition of life without parole sentences on juveniles in Michigan and provide the possibility of parole to the 300 plus prisoners incarcerated for crimes they were convicted of committing when they were children.

Legislation to abolish juvenile life without parole sentences in Nebraska, Florida, California, and Illinois is currently pending, and efforts are being made to ban the practice in Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, and Washington as well. Our call is being heard across the nation.

Some fasters will undertake the entire week on water, others on juices. Some people will join the fast by choosing one day of the week to participate. Others will lend their prayer, voice, and presence to this effort of the spirit.

The tradition of Lenten and Holy Week fasting has always been an act of preparation and solidarity with those to be baptized or reconciled to the community in the Vigil of Easter. In the case of people wrongly convicted or unjustly held, it is the community which needs to be reconciled to the prisoner so that justice may be restored. Our fast is to that end.

On Good Friday, the Stations of the Cross walk through the city of Detroit, which begins at noon from St. Peter's Episcopal Church (Michigan and Trumbull), will include a meditation related to these prisoners.

The fast will be based at St. Peter's Episcopal Church. To join the fast, or for details of gatherings and events during the week, contact Rev. Bill Wylie-Kellerman via e-mail at or via phone at 313-841-7554.