Archive for the category “Restoration”

His judge became his mentor

Kurt Streeter reports for the Los Angeles Times:

In 1996, when Michael Banyard was arrested with what was literally a sliver of crack, California’s unforgiving three-strikes law kicked in. Convicted of his third felony, Michael received the mandatory sentence: 25 years to life.

His last chance came down to an appeal filed in federal court that landed on the desk of Judge Spencer Letts. Federal judges are inundated with such appeals and almost never reverse convictions. But Letts, then near 70, isn’t known for following the pack. In 2004, calling the punishment “cruel and unusual” for such a small amount of drugs, he ordered Michael freed.

The judge did something else too: He asked Michael to meet with him in chambers. Letts wanted to know more about the man he’d pulled from prison. The upshot: Letts became Michael’s mentor.

What a bond they formed. White and rich, Letts has the look of a professor emeritus at Harvard. Black and poor, Michael was a former Compton Crip with a barrel chest and a body scarred by bullets.

Read the rest of the story here.

Learn more about the Los Angeles Dream Center here.

Former sex slave finds freedom

Janean Chun reports on the Huffington Post:

Pamela Villarreal grew up as a sheltered child in a middle class home in upstate New York. But at age 15, one act of youthful rebellion ended up with her abduction as a sex slave for three weeks and not knowing on a daily basis whether she was going to live or die. By escaping the very day she was supposed to be sent by train to her new “owner” in New York City, Villarreal got the second chance at life she prayed for.

Healing from the traumatic experience didn’t come easily. Though her life was no longer in danger, Villarreal couldn’t find the comfort she needed in her family, as she had been a victim of incest, nor could she find it in marriage, as she was in two abusive relationships before reaching her mid 20s.

Read the full article here.

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