In 2004, Juan Rayford, Jr. was chilling at a friend’s Lancaster home, trying to avoid the violence of street culture.
He thought he was safe until a beef between rivals escalated to gunfire from another room.
Police detained Juan and another teen, Dupree Glass, despite the homeowner and her daughter backing up their innocence.
Even without any recovered weapons or injuries, prosecutors threw the book at both.
The prosecutors charged each with 11 counts of attempted murder and posted an $11 MILLION bail! Their version of mercy? A 15-year plea deal. SMH.
Now both youth have aged into adulthood behind bars - serving back-to-back life sentences without a chance at parole as a consequence for maintaining their innocence.
Juan’s father, Juan Sr. continues to fight hard for his son’s freedom...
Juan Sr.’s letter-writing campaign influenced California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who advocates for criminal justice reform, to reevaluate Juan Jr.’s case before the state Supreme Court for the cruelty and excessiveness of his punishment.
While we hope Rayford and Glass’ sentences are excommunicated and their records expunged, nothing will bring back the 15 years of life and freedom lost.
Black juvenile defendants are particularly vulnerable to being funneled into private prisons that profit off of their presence and labor.
Our uphill justice battle includes keeping this trend from continuing.