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STOP THE INJUSTICE March and Demonsration

On Saturday, March 13, 2010 a Coalition of Concerned Citizens of Yolo County, The Justice Reform Coalition and the Advocates for Ajay organized a march and demonstration in Davis to highlight the epidemic of INJUSTICE in Yolo County perpetrated by those who are sworn to seek the truth and to protect the innocent. Marching through Downtown Davis and ending at the Farmers market were over 150 people expressing their outrage and frustration with the Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig. Marchers were educating the attendees of the Farmers Market about the corruption in Yolo County, that is leading to the wrongful convictions of people such as Ajay Dev and Jeff Lockwood, both prosecuted by DDA Steve Mount.

From the Davis Vanguard:
  Peggy Dev, the wife of Ajay Dev spoke to the crowd, telling them that this was the first time that she has publicly spoken since her husband was convicted.  She told the crowd, “I’m here to say that my husband is innocent.”  She continued talking about the case arguing that her husband’s conviction was based on a recorded conversation, partially in Nepalese.  “[It was] misunderstood, translated by the accuser.  That’s what convicted him.  If the court allowed us to give the proper interpretation he would be standing here today a free man.”
  “We are taught that the truth and everything is allowed in court, it’s not. It’s a façade.  We need to educate ourselves, we need to stand up for what are our inalienable rights.  We were taught in school that the judicial system works, well let’s make it work. Seek out the guilty, we want them punished, but the innocent should be able to have a fair trial.”

The recently formed Civil Rights Commission is uncovering abuses and intimidation by people who are sworn to protect the innocent. Marchers called for an end to the injustice and for an Independent Federal Investigation into the Legal System of Yolo County.

The following is a press statement by the Advocates for Ajay:

We are here today in an effort to educate the citizens of Yolo County of a well kept secret. I am sure that most people here today believe, or at one time believed, that Yolo County’s judicial system is dedicated to fighting for truth and justice—that every citizen is entitled to proper due process, and that its system is rooted in moral principle ensuring the best of all possible systems. A grand ideology, but elevated principles such as these cannot exist within a judicial system that capitalizes on the number of convictions it produces. The question that each and everyone of us should ask is: How can there be constitutional and impartial due process in a County where the police department, sheriff’s department, the district attorney’s office and EVEN the Court receive a monetary benefit for each conviction they process?

Just imagine if you will, a judicial system wherein the system itself has a clear monetary motive to push convictions through the system. Not all counties in California operate under what we’ve described as the “Cash for Convictions Program.” Yolo County receives grant monies based on the number of convictions it produces relating to specific crimes. And, in some cases, in order to qualify for renewal, they need to show an increase in the number of convictions targeting a specific area.

Statistics have illustrated that since Yolo County has adopted the “Cash for Convictions” program, miraculously, their prosecution/conviction rates, especially for minorities, have soared above the state and national average. Comparatively speaking and given the demographics of Yolo County, this would be an impossible scenario. How then, does a County with a population of approximately 200K people manage to prosecute and convict crimes well above the state and national average? They do so by targeting specific groups that directly correlate to the grant money received and by “stacking” charges against defendants. Each charge is considered a potential conviction, and each conviction fills the coffers. Convictions in order to secure grant monies have become a significant component to the current budget crisis. In 2009 Yolo County received over six million dollars in grant and stimulus money for crimes relating to sexual assault and gangs. They also receive money for other types of crime. The District Attorney’s office has three times the budget of the Public Defender’s office.

You may have heard about a recent case wherein the current District Attorney, Jeff Reisig’s office was seeking a life in prison sentence for a man who had stolen a block of cheese from the Nugget Market in Woodland. Since the story made international news, Mr. Reisig’s office has reconsidered his position and that man is now serving a term of over 7 years in prison for stealing a $3.99 block of cheese. One cannot help but be reminded of Victor Hugo’s protagonist in his novel Les Miserables, wherein a man is relentlessly prosecuted for stealing a loaf of bread in economically depressed times. In another well-documented case, a minority man was facing 170 counts and up to 60 years in prison because some of his goats had escaped his property. More recently, 3 Pakistani men were charged with 63 counts for one incident of rape. My brother-in-law, Ajay Dev, was charged with 96 counts and is facing 378 years in prison. As represented by a number of groups here today, who will share their stories with you, this type of activity stemming from the Yolo County judicial system is more common than they might lead us to believe. With this type of prosecution, not any one of us is guaranteed our constitutional right to due process. By making convictions a quantitative measure in which monies are received, the system has been corrupted. Justice cannot be found on a balance sheet.

We cannot allow the standards of our constitutional right to due process to be compromised by a corrupt system. We, as citizens must act to uphold our individual rights. We must say, “Enough is enough.” We must act for ourselves and for future generations—for your children and your children’s children. We must unite and send the message that we will not tolerate Balance Sheet Justice. Help us as we work together with various organizations, such as the Justice Reform Coalition to seek Federal Oversight to ensure that all citizens, no matter what ethnicity, receive what is their moral and constitutional right—the entitlement of each citizen to PROPER legal and NATURAL justice. Thank you.


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