This event has been cancelled until further notice.
For decades, people serving life sentences in California prison had no real pathway to release. This situation began to change when, during his final term in office, California’s Governor Brown began to make active use of his power to authorize parole and to commute life without parole (LWOP) to life sentences with parole eligibility. Following Governor Brown’s lead, Governor Newsom is already doing the same. As a consequence, a small but growing number of people doing life are being given the chance to build new lives on the outside. Lifers released from prison have a vanishingly small recidivism rate. Yet after decades in custody, they face serious obstacles to successful reentry. Our panelists are all currently navigating these obstacles and have generously offered to share their experiences.
We are particularly eager to welcome Freddy Guzman to UCLAW. In 2011, he was 26 years into a 17-to-life sentence in California when a group of UCLA students came together to help him prepare for parole. What began as an extracurricular pursuit, dubbed “Team Freddy” by participants, evolved into an official practicum lasting an additional two years. The members of Team Freddy were guided in their work by Keith Wattley, the leading expert on parole in California, who generously agreed to represent Guzman pro bono. (Wattley has received many honors for his work, perhaps most notably his selection as one of the Obama Foundation’s inaugural Fellows.) Under Wattley’s supervision, Team Freddy met with Guzman multiple times to help him prepare for his parole hearing. [what else did TF do?] In 2013, Guzman came before the Parole Board, represented by UCLAW alum Jullian Calvin-Harris, with Wattley in second chair. Although Guzman was denied at that time, Wattley continued to work on his behalf and he was finally granted parole in the spring of 2019. Guzman credits Team Freddy for teaching him “about insight and compassion, and how to express” his “point of view with meaning”—lessons that put him in a position ultimately to make a convincing case to the Board.
Reception to follow