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Campaign begun to free Efren Paredes

Published Feb 15, 2007 9:01 PM

Elena Herrada and
Efren Paredes in
Jackson Prison.

Elena Herrada, director of Centro Obrero in Detroit and a lifelong progressive labor and community activist, has initiated a campaign to collect 1,000 petition signatures demanding a new trial or pardon/commutation for Efren Paredes. The deadline for the signature campaign is March 15, the 18th anniversary of Paredes’ arrest.

Herrada wrote in a letter supporting Paredes: “He was sentenced to three life terms at age 15. He was incarcerated as a child and is now 33 years old.”

Paredes was a Latino honor student in Benton Harbor, Mich., when he was convicted in 1989 for a murder and armed robbery he did not commit—crimes to which others pled guilty. The case against Efren was entirely circumstantial. There was no physical evidence linking him to the crimes, no eyewitnesses, and Efren was home with his parents and two brothers when the crimes occurred.

Children of any age may be tried as adults in Michigan. Not surprisingly in a racist prison-industrial system, most children tried as adults in this state are African Americans.

A 2004 report by the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan documented 307 youth serving life sentences; 221 are youth of color and 211 of those are African Americans.

Background on the case is available at www.4Efren.com. The petition can be downloaded or signed online at: www.petitionspot.com/petitions/4Efren. Return paper petitions to Elena Herrada c/o Centro Obrero, 4300 Michigan Ave., Detroit, MI 48210

—Cheryl LaBash