"I have sought to inculcate in others the importance of
weaving a tapestry of unity and awakening their consciousness about their
intrinsic value. Through this process we can spawn perpetual growth and rescue
humanity from the cycle of despair that evaporates hope." (Efren Paredes,
Efren Paredes, Jr. is a former 15-year-old Latino Lakeshore High School honor student who was wrongly convicted in 1989 for a
murder and armed robbery he did not commit. The crime occurred in St. Joseph,
Michigan (Berrien County), USA. To date Efren has served 24 years in prison for
Several notable scholars and activists across the country support Efren's
release including Dr. Elizabeth "Betita" Martinez, Director,
Institute for MultiRacial Justice, author, and activist; Dr. Carlos Munoz, Jr.,
Professor Emeritus, University of California, Berkeley, author and activist;
Dr. Rodolfo Acuna, historian, educator and Chicano studies scholar; Dr. Jorge
Chinea, Director of Chicano-Boricua Studies Department, Wayne State University,
author and activist; Dr. Martha Grace Duncan, Professor of Law, Emory
University, and author; Favianna Rodriguez, political printmaker, digital
artist, activist; Juana Alicia, muralist, printmaker, educator, and activist;
Elena Herrada, Director, Centro Obrero, Detroit Public Schools Board Member,
and writer; Elisha Miranda aka E-Fierce, filmmaker, writer, and activist; Dr.
Walter Garcia-Kawamoto, Journal of Adolescent Research, Manuscript Consulting
Editor; and others.
Efren also enjoys the support of world renowned wrongful convictions expert
, a veteran private investigator. Ciolino is the author of numerous
articles in professional publications and the book, "In the Company of
Giants: The Ultimate Investigation Guide for Legal Professionals, Activists,
Journalists and the Wrongfully Convicted." In addition, he co-wrote the
best-selling and critically acclaimed textbooks "Advanced Forensic
Criminal Defense Investigations" and "Advanced Forensic Civil
Ciolino is the former chief investigative advisor to Northwestern University
Law School's Center on Wrongful Convictions, the Medill School of Journalism,
and DePaul University Center for Justice in Capital Cases. In 2003, when former
Illinois Governor George Ryan granted clemency and pardons to 167 death row
inmates, he cited Ciolino's investigative work, which helped free five innocent
men, as one of the reasons for the en masse commutations.
According to Ciolino, "There is not one shred of credible evidence to
suggest that Efren was involved in the murder. No weapon, no eyewitnesses, no
pysical evidence, no motive, no prior conduct to suggest that a 15-year-old
student athlete, and honor role student with zero criminal background, would
have planned, participated in or committed this murder. The community and jury
were sold a bill of goods based on the words of drug dealers and thieves."
Learn more about the campaign to free Efren, details about his case, and how
you can support our efforts by clicking on the Case Info tab which contains
important information and documents related to Efren's case.Juvenile Life Without Parole
The "JLWOP Info" tab contains information related to the issue of
juvenile life without parole (JLWOP) sentences which includes court opinions,
peer-reviewed studies, reports, international treaties, articles, and activity
pertaining to this issue in Michigan.
There was no physical evidence linking Efren to the crime, no
eyewitnesses to the crime, and Efren was home with his parents and two brothers
when the crime was committed.Case Info
Efren had no juvenile or adult criminal record previous to his arrest on March
15, 1989. In a rush to judgment, and efforts to allay community concerns of
criminals committing further acts of violence, he was tried and convicted only
three months after his arrest by a jury comprised of 11 White jurors and one
Efren received illegal two life without parole (LWOP) sentences for one
homicide and a parolable life sentence for the armed robbery. The prosecutor
charged Efren under two alternate theories of murder -- premeditated murder and
felony murder -- and his trial judge, Zoe Burkholz, sentenced him for both
counts of murder.
The Berrien County Court is located St. Joseph, MI, the same city where the
crime occurred. St. Joseph had a racial composition of being 95% White at the
time. The judge, prosecutor, all the investigating police, and the victim in
the case were all White. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Berrien County
ranks among the top 25 most segregated metropolitan areas in the country.
All but one of the youths in Berrien County who have received life without
parole (LWOP) sentences have been children of color. Efren is the only Latino
youth in the county's history to receive the sentence.
The case against Efren was entirely
circumstantial and based primarily on the statements of other youth who received
reduced charges and sentences from the prosecutor in exchange for their
Asst. Prosecuting Attorney Michael Sepic knowingly committed professional
misconduct when he allowed a man, who would later become the jury foreman, to
be seated on the jury who worked with the aunt of the victim's widow in Efren's
The information about the juror's connection to the aunt was brought to Asst.
Prosecutor's attention on two occasions, once before the trial began and once
after it began by the victim's widow. The Asst. Prosecutor acknowledged that he
knew this information on December 4, 2008 at Efren's public hearing. Appellate
courts held these acts of unprofessionalism raised in Efren's legal appeals
were "harmless error."
February 10, 2009 the Berkeley City Council (California) voted to condemn the
LWOP sentences imposed on Efren as human rights violations in contravention
with several international treaties. They join the 192 nations in the world who
have ratified the convention on the Rights of the Child and universally
condemned the imposition of LWOP sentences for children.
Efren appeared in the 2004 study released by the ACLU of Michigan about LWOP
sentences for youth in Michigan titled, "Second Chances," and
appeared on the cover of the 2005 national LWOP sentences for youth study
released by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International titled, "The Rest
of Their Lives." His case was also presented to the United Nations Human
Rights Commission twice. Once by the University of San Francisco School of Law
Human Rights Advocates and once by the ACLU of Michigan.
December 4, 2008 a public hearing to
consider a commutation request for Efren was convened by the Michigan Parole
Board at the G. Robert Cotton Correctional Facility in Jackson, MI. The Parole
Board heard testimony from those who support Efren's release, as well as those
opposing it. Nearly 200 people attended the unprecedented nine-and-a-half hour
hearing. The vast majority of those in attendance were Efren's family members
The Berrien County Prosecutor, police and media colluded to
present false and misleading evidence against Efren through the media prior to
and during the course of his trial. The media widely reported that police found
a bloody T-shirt in Efren's bedroom at the time of his arrest, and that the
shoes he wore the evening of the crime had blood on them.
This information was categorically false and never corrected in the media.
Click here to view the actual forensic lab results about these items when they
were tested. Neither the T-shirt or shoes contained blood nor any other trace
evidence linking Efren to any crime. The alleged "bloody T-shirt"
falsely reported about was a shoe polish rag.
Sadly, the public has believed this and many other lies falsely manufactured by
the Berrien County Prosecutor, local police, and the media against Efren. This
is only two of the many things we can prove that were maliciously used to
wrongly convict Efren.Contact InfoClick
here to contact the TIME Committee via e-mail
If you would like to contact the TIME
Committee to leave a comment, make a suggestion, request additional
information about Efren's case, or learn how you can assist the campaign to
free Efren, you can send and email message to email@example.com.
If you would like to speak to a member of Efren's family, or a member of the
TIME Committee, please state what you would like to discuss and leave your
name, phone number, e-mail and the best time to return your phone call. This
will help us determine the best person to respond to your request.
Members of the media and the general public can contact Efren directly via U.S.
Efren Paredes, Jr. #203116
Muskegon Correctional Facility
2400 S. Sheridan Drive
Muskegon, MI 49442
You can also contact Efren directly electronically via JPay.com. You can locate
Efren on the JPay.com inmate locator by selecting Michigan as the state you
would like to locate a prisoner in and use Efren's prisoner number to locate
him which is "203116".
Make a Secure Online Donation to the Efren Paredes, Jr. Defense Fund
Click here to make a secure online PayPal donation to the Efren Paredes, Jr.
Defense Fund. These funds will be used to defray the cost of attorney fees, as
well as private investigation, public relations, expert witness evaluations,
and other services necessary to assist our efforts to free Efren.The Injustice Must End (TIME) Blog and Social Media Presence
To stay abreast of the latest information related to the injustice surrounding
Efren's case or read messages written by Efren and others opposed to social
injustice, you are encouraged to visit our blog at http://4Efren.blogspot.com.
Additional social media presence is:
"I have sought to inculcate in others the importance of weaving a tapestry
of unity and awakening their consciousness about their intrinsic value. Through
this process we can spawn perpetual growth and rescue humanity from the cycle
of despair that evaporates hope." (Efren Paredes, Jr.)Presentations About Efren's Case
To date members of the TIME Committee have made presentations about Efren's
case at churches, colleges, community centers, organization meetings, schools,
public libraries and homes. Anyone interested in having a member of the TIME
Committee do a presentation about Efren's case can contact us using any of the
avenues listed above. Your request will be forwarded to a TIME Committee member
closest to your area for follow-up.
Please include the following information to better help us determine which TIME
Committee member can be scheduled to do the presentation:
* Date and time you would like the presentation to be made;
* Location where presentation will be made (include street address, city, zip
* Size of location where presentation will be made (e.g., classroom, university
auditorium, church, library, home, etc.);
* If you have a digital projector to show a computer generated presentation;
* If you have a microphone and sound system (e.g., amplifier) or access to
these items for the presentation; and
* How many people you expect to attend the presentation.
The importance of these presentations can not be underscored enough. Through
discussing Efren's case, and casting light on the facts surrounding his
wrongful conviction, we are not only creating much needed dialogue about
Efren's case, we are also:
* Discussing systemic problems that exist in the criminal justice system;
* Bringing attention to needed changes in the way juveniles are treated in
adult courts and prisons;
* Educating people about the facts in Efren's case, and correcting the lies and
inaccurate information that have been circulated about Efren's case;
* Helping other families who are also going through similar experiences;
* Helping prevent this horrible experience from occurring to other families;
* Teaching others how to build a strong grassroots campaign to generate
attention and support for a cause; and
* Helping the community heal by creating unity and developing real solutions to
problems that plague the community.