Jarad was sentenced to 162 years to Life after facing 204 years to Life in the California Prison System. He was in the High Security Compound in Sylmar Juvenile Hall facing this amount of time as a 17 year old teenager. In California, juveniles who commit violent crimes can be tried as adults, while awaiting trial they are kept apart from other minors. Many of them won't come home, but Jarad did. As a 17 year old he was featured in the documentary, "They Call Us Monsters." Many people love to label minors who commit violent crimes as "monsters" but they don't know their whole story. Jarad would be the first to take responsibility for what he did and the harm he caused. He didn't make excuses for his behavior and went to prison and committed his life to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and immersed himself in his faith and his education. Nearly 8 1/2 years later his sentence was commuted by Governor Brown. After being found suitable for parole by the Board of Prison Hearings Commissioners, he walked out of prison after 9 years.
I heard of his story from a mutual friend and he wanted me to meet Jarad. I had to meet him. I had never heard of anyone with such a long sentence being released before serving a decade. I had to see him with my own eyes, congratulate him and hear his story. He's been out of prison for one year now and he's one of the kindest and most humble young men that I have ever met. I invited him on The Prison Post Podcast to share his story. He keeps a strong support team around him and his friend, David Rey, joined us at the studio. Impromptu, I asked David if he'd be willing to join us in a conversation. David Rey was also sentenced to life as a juvenile and has thrived in every way in his 8 years of freedom.
Many would like you to believe that transformation isn't possible for juveniles or young men who make the worst decision of their lives and end up in the carceral system. Legislators quoted on "They Call Us Monsters" said this about juveniles like Jarad, "There are no violent offenses for a juvenile. You commit crime, you're an adult." "If you commit an adult crime, you do adult time." "The age of the assailant is of no consequence." "These are evil menacing people, mini Charlie Mansons, this is absolutely outrageous that we're going to release these little psychopaths to the streets to yet murder again." These statements are meant to put fear into the public and perpetuate long sentences for juveniles, even when the evidence shows that transformation is possible.
I am so thankful that Governor Brown and Jarad's employer didn't feel that way about him. Today Jarad is a Committee Assistant for Senator Steven Bradford, Chair of the Senate Public Safety Committee. He's not only employed at the State Capitol, but also attends Sacramento State University and is majoring in criminal justice. His goal is to become a lawyer in the next several years. He loves God, attends church and shares his story to inspire others going down the path he did to change direction. His church has loved and embraced him. Jarad is a shining example of what transformation looks like and what's possible when we give a young man an opportunity to be someone new. It was an honor to have Jarad on The Prison Post Podcast and since we live in the same town, I hope to hang out with Jarod and be a part of one another's support system.