Free Efren Orange Banner

Free Efren Orange Banner

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Message from Efrén Supporting Call to Action to Abolish Juvenile Life Without Parole (JLWOP) Sentences

"We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality,
tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly,
affects all indirectly." —Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dear Friends,

I am writing asking you to support a call to action urging people to contact your state legislators and asking them to support the passage of Senate Bills 173-176 which seek to abolish juvenile life without parole (JLWOP) sentences in Michigan.

I am currently constructing a letter to President Obama's transition team and administration encouraging them to ratify the Convention On the Rights of the Child (CRC). The CRC expressly prohibits the imposition of JLWOP sentences, however, the U.S. has not ratified the treaty.

The CRC was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1989 and instituted as international law in 1990. The U.S. signed the treaty with reservations, but is the only remaining country in the world that has not ratified it besides Somalia. Somalia, however, does not have a functioning government.

A couple months ago when asked about the CRC on the campaign trail, President Obama stated, "It is embarrassing to find ourselves in the company of Somalia, a lawless land." He continued, "I will review this and other treaties and ensure that the United States resumes its global leadership in human rights." You can view his response at

I believe President Obama's recent vow to reclaim our "moral high ground" in the world, his commitment to ensure that "transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones" of his administration, and his signing of the Executive Order banning torture to protect the human rights of foreigners abroad, signal that he will also ensure the protection of children's rights at home.

President Obama signed the Executive Order to ensure that the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment is adhered to. This same treaty contains provisions which offer protections of juveniles as well. JLWOP sentences constitute a violation of this treaty along with several others, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention On the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination.

If President Obama ratifies the CRC it would become a very strong instrument for citizens to utilize to encourage legislators across the nation to abolish JLWOP sentences.

I will also be urging the Obama administration to ask members of Congress to pass H.R. 4300, a bill introduced by U.S. Representative Robert Scott (D-VA) and co-sponsored by U.S. Representative John Conyers (D-MI) that seeks to abolish JLWOP sentences nationwide. H.R. 4300 is currently pending in the U.S. House of Representatives and can be viewed at

We continue to make progress each day. While it has certainly been a challenging time waiting to hear the Parole Board's recommendation the past 55 days since my public hearing, it has also been a time of prayer, deep reflection, and strengthening of my faith.

I continue to remain strong and focused, working each day to reach out to people who can help us make a difference in the world. Not a day expires that I do not do something to advance our campaign to restore my freedom and abolish the imposition of JLWOP sentences. Thank you for your continued support, and thank you for helping me never lose sight of our enduring spirit to seek justice.

In Solidarity,


Click on the following link to view a TIME Committee blog post that contains additional information about pending Senate Bills 173-176, including links to download the bills:

Click on the following link to view information about how to contact your legislators to urge them to support passage of Senate Bills 173-176:

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Reviving the Goal of an Integrated Society: A 21st Century Challenge

The newest report in a series of Civil Rights Project (CRP) annual reports on desegregation trends, Reviving the Goal of an Integrated Society: A 21st Century Challenge, points out that it would be wrong to assume that our nation has realized Dr. King's dream and created a society where race no longer matters. In fact, the report concludes the opposite. The U.S. continues to move backward toward increasing minority segregation in highly unequal schools.

The mission of the Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles at University of California, Los Angeles, is to help renew the civil rights movement by bridging the worlds of ideas and action, to be a preeminent source of intellectual capital within that movement, and to deepen the understanding of the issues that must be resolved to achieve racial and ethnic equity as society moves through the great transformation of the 21st century.

They believe that either the country will learn to deal effectively with the richness of its astonishing diversity or it will lose pace in a globalizing world and decline and divide. Focused research and the best ideas of scholars and leaders from all parts of the country can make a decisive contribution to a renewal of the promise of the civil rights movement.

Please review this report and circulate it widely with others who are concerned about this very important issue.
Reviving the Goal of an Integrated Society

Monday, January 19, 2009

Only in America: Children Without Parole

"We must use time creatively and forever realize
that the time is always ripe to do what is right."
—Martin Luther King, Jr.—

Monday, January 19, 2009, the University of Michigan Prison Creative Arts Project (PCAP) held a workshop at the University of Michigan 23rd Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Symposium to discuss the issue of life without parole (LWOP) sentences for juveniles.

There are currently over 330 people in Michigan prisons serving LWOP sentences for crimes they were accused of committing as children. Nationally that number has exceeded 2,500 people. Shamefully the U.S. stands along as the only country in the world that sentences children to die in prison in violation of several international treaties.

The event drew over 200 people who attended to hear several powerful and moving messages by the panel members which included State Representative Alma Wheeler Smith, Anita Colón, Warden Millie Warren, Monica Jahner, Jerry Moore (reading the testimony of Jerry Lashuay), as well as Efrén's wife and mother.

There was discussion about how juvenile LWOP impacts children in the U.S. nationally, information about how young prisoners are being housed in the Michigan Department of Corrections and programs available to them, what people can do to promote the campaign to abolish juvenile LWOP sentences, and the personal stories of men and women serving LWOP sentences for crimes they were accused of committing as juveniles.

Efrén's wife and and mother spoke about his case and the issue of juvenile LWOP sentences. They were there representing Efrén's family and The Injustice Must End (TIME) Committee to Free Efrén Paredes, Jr.

During her message, Efrén's wife stated, "Life without parole sentences have been characterized as a 'living tomb.' Modern courts have characterized JLWOP as a 'slow death sentence' that is 'equally severe' to a death sentence. Others have described it as a 'virtually hopeless lifetime incarceration' that is '... a denial of hope' that renders "good behavior and character improvement' immaterial and worse, is cancerous to human development.

Efrén's mother added, "Sentences for juvenile offenders should not conclude today what kind of adults these youths will be many years from now. As any parent knows, predicting what teenagers will become by next week, let alone when they are adults, is nearly impossible. That decision should wait until they have reached adulthood and can be assessed more accurately."

After the panelists spoke they fielded several questions from the audience. Information was available for distribution at the end of the workshop regarding juvenile LWOP sentences along with sign-up sheets for writing letters to legislators. Information about Efrén's case and how to support our campaign to free him was also available.

Later that evening one of the panel members, Anita Colón from Pennsylvania, and Efrén, appeared on the Ebling and You radio show on 1320 WILS-AM to discuss the event and juvenile life without parole sentences. Click the play button on the left side of the flash player below to listen to the interview.

A special thanks to the PCAP event organizers, to everyone who attended, and to our friend Jack Ebling for continuing to generate awareness and support for our campaign to free Efrén.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

"Three Wise Men" by Arthur Fidel Argomaniz

College essay titled "Three Wise Men" by Arthur Fidel Argomaniz about the imposition of life without parole sentences (LWOP) for juveniles. Included in this must-read article are several references to Efren's writings. It is a powerful example of how Efren continues to help shape the social consciousness of people across the nation through his writings.

Arthur is a McNair Scholar, senior attending the University of Southern California (USC) majoring in sociology. He is also president of MEChA de USC, a member of CCU (Campus and
Community United) and a SAJE (Strategic Action for a Just Economy)
Three Wise Men by Arthur Argomaniz