Last Thursday, I walked out of the Yuba County Jail as a free person for the first time in sixteen years. At twenty, I was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole – a death in prison sentence. With a deportation hold on top of that, hope that I’d ever rejoin my community in California was slim. Prison walls make it even harder to protect what little hope we have by isolating us from our community outside.
I kept hope alive because of all of you. My heroes at Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus fought alongside me in court, in prison, and in the streets. My (formerly) incarcerated family at the California Coalition for Women Prisoners, Asian Prisoner Support Committee, and Survived and Punished reminded me that I’m not alone. All of you who took time to write me, attend a court hearing, or make a call to ICE gave me courage and hope that prison walls couldn’t extinguish.
I’m free but ICE continues to appeal to send me back to immigration detention and deport me. I am joining all of you outside in fighting for not just my freedom, but for the freedom of all of my sisters and brothers that I left behind inside. Together, we can replace a system built to punish with humanity and compassion for all of us.
Here’s how you can take action today:
1. In the past month, ICE has arrested hundreds of my Cambodian and Vietnamese refugee family. Sign the petition calling on ICE to stop the raids – https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/stop-the-deportation-of-cambodian-refugees
2. Kelly Savage was a mentor to me and so many others in prison. Like me and countless other incarcerated survivors, Kelly was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for a murder committed by her abusive partner. Sign a petition for Governor Jerry Brown to commute Kelly’s sentence: https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/give-domestic-violence-survivor-kelly-ann-savage-a-chance-at-parole