“In the API community, specifically, there is a lot of stigma against having a criminal background,” says Michael Maiko, a case manager at Long Beach’s Asian Pacific Counseling Services. “Your family’s unhappy with you, your parents, your elders … It creates anxiety and repression.”
Feeding into that stigma, community advocates say, are the stereotypes surrounding APIs as the “model minority,” creating pressure to maintain an image of success even when the reality may be far from it.
I believe it was the my faith community, drug treatment, and school intervention counselors that saved my life. These are the institutions that Prop. 47 dollars should fund, not more investment in policing and jails – which is a concern among advocates of Prop. 47, and is completely contrary to the redemptive nature of the law.
“I really felt the stigma of being a convicted felon,” said Hernandez as he reminisced about his experience. “You are told that once you do your time, you can live free, but in reality the second part of your sentence begins when you are released.”
My heart begins to pound as I enter the gym at the Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF) on the outskirts of Chowchilla, about 20 miles south of Merced. Within moments memories of my own time behind bars flood my mind.
The Public Defender’s Office began meeting with potential applicants as early as December of last year. “I see around 10 people every week,” said Andrade. “The application process is long and takes time because it's on a case by case basis.”