by Diana Block
The Parole Board denied Theresa Cruz a date for parole at her third hearing on September 20. The week before family members and advocates spoke at the monthly public meeting of the Board of Prison Terms. The presentations to the Board focused on Theresa’s excellent record in prison, her history of abuse and the fact that this was a first offense in which no one was permanently injured for which she has already served ten years. They also addressed the fact that the parole board is violating the law by denying release dates to thousands of eligible prisoners.
The most moving part of the day was the statement made by Theresa’s son, Carlitos, about his own abuse at the hands of his father (who is Theresa’s abuser). “My father beat me many times for years, he wouldn’t follow the court order, and he wouldn’t allow me to see my grandma for visitation because I had bruises. He would wait till the bruises went away and other times he just didn’t feel like letting me go. I was not allowed to call my sisters. He told me my sisters were not my sisters and my mother was not my mother and I was adopted. He would beat me up and take the phones out of the house so I could not call anyone for help. He would tell me if I told anyone he wouldn’t let my mother out of prison. He would also tell me if I was a good little boy he would let my mother out of prison. I did everything to be good because I was just a little boy and I believed him. No matter how good I was there was always an excuse that I was bad and couldn’t go see them.” However, at Theresa’s parole hearing, the Board refused to take into consideration the fact that Carlitos has recently been taken out of his father’s home because of abuse, and instead listened to the father’s argument that Theresa had poisoned her son’s mind against him.
Theresa’s lawyers are now trying to figure out other options for pursuing her release. As advocates, we can’t let this setback discourage us but must keep up the pressure to win Theresa’s freedom, which she and her family clearly deserve!