Michael Romano, director of the Stanford Three Strikes Project, is mentioned in this New York Times magazine article for the efforts of the Three Strikes Project in supporting three stikers as they leave prison.
Two men were sitting in a parked car, waiting to pick someone up. Carlos Cervantes was in the driver’s seat. He was 30, with glassy green eyes — quiet by nature, but with a loaded, restrained intensity about him. He had picked up Roby So at home in Los Angeles around 3 o’clock that morning, and they’d made it here, to this empty parking lot in front of the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility, on the outskirts of San Diego, just after 6. Now, the sun was rising over the bare, brown mountains in the windshield. A hummingbird zipped around an air-conditioning unit outside. Already, they’d been waiting close to an hour.
Roby was three years older than Carlos but carried himself like a large and joyful child. He was hungry. He wanted biscuits and gravy and was still laughing about how, earlier, he caught himself telling Carlos that, unfortunately, he’d have to wait until tomorrow for biscuits and gravy, because today was Monday, and Monday was pancakes day. Part of his brain still tracked his old prison breakfast menu. ‘‘Why do I still know these things, man?’’ Roby said. ‘‘It’s been four years. I was supposed to. … ’’ His voice trailed off, so Carlos finished his sentence: ‘‘Delete.’’
The job started as a simple delivery service, to carry some of these discombobulated bodies from one place to another. In late 2013, the director of the Three Strikes Project, Michael Romano, contacted a nonprofit called the Anti-Recidivism Coalition, which has built up a close community of formerly incarcerated people in Los Angeles. (Romano, who is also an A.R.C. board member, is a friend of mine.) Romano asked if A.R.C. could dispatch one of its members to pick up third-strikers and drive them to their housing near the Staples Center in Los Angeles. A.R.C. recommended Carlos, a dependable young man just three years out of prison himself, who — most important — also had his own car and a credit card to front money for gas. Carlos was hired, for $12 an hour, to fetch an old man named Terry Critton from a prison in Chino. On the way back, Critton asked if Carlos wouldn’t mind stopping at Amoeba Records, so he could look at jazz LPs — he’d been a big collector. They wound up spending almost two hours in the store, just looking. Then, Critton wanted a patty melt, so Carlos found a place called Flooky’s, where they ordered two and caught the end of a Dodgers game. It was extraordinary: All day, Carlos could see this man coming back to life. He wanted to do more pickups, and he wanted to get his friend Roby involved. He told his bosses he needed a partner.
The first ride home Carlos and Roby did together was in February 2014. They were dispatched for an early-morning pickup at San Quentin, seven hours from Los Angeles in Marin County, and Michael Romano, the director of the Three Strikes Project, suggested they drive up the day before and stay at his house in San Francisco. He expected to take them out to dinner — get to know them, spoil them a bit. Instead, Carlos and Roby rolled in after midnight and unceremoniously bedded down on a couple of couches.Read More