CA ATTORNEY GENERAL SPENDS $2 MILLION TO GET 65 MORE DAYS IN PRISON FOR WOMAN WHO ALREADY SERVED 7 YEARS FOR THEFT OF $30 TOOL BOX

PAM MARTINEZ

On July 9, 1996, Pam Martinez was sentenced to 25 years to life under California’s three strikes law. She was convicted of petty theft with a prior after allegedly stealing a used toolbox worth $30.

In July 1999, Pam's conviction was reversed because of ineffective counsel and her sentence vacated. Charges were reinstated, and a new trial was ordered. A Superior Court judge struck a prior strike resulting from a 1978 plea bargain and offered a sentence of nine years for the tool box theft. Not willing to risk another sentence of 25 to life, Martinez accepted the plea bargain.

The CA Appellate Court ordered that the three years already served under the 1996 invalid conviction should be calculated as pre-trial credit rather than post-trial credit, and Pam was released on October 24, 2001 after serving a total of seven years. Having paid a heavy debt for a $30 theft, Pam began to rebuild her life.

And that’s where the story could have ended, but it didn’t. Prosecutors were unhappy with Pam's release and appealed to the California Supreme Court, claiming that the three years she served before her retrial should have been considered post-trial credits. Calculated in that manner, the State's Attorney said Martinez still owed the California Corrections Department sixty-five days of incarceration.

The California Supreme Court agreed with the state's attorney and has ordered Pam to be re-incarcerated for the additional 65 days. Martinez’estimate of the states price tag for the two-and-a-half years of appeals and re-incarceration:over: 2 million dollars.

After her release from prison over two years ago, Pam rented an apartment and has held steady employment. She is proud of her job at Home Depot where her supportive managers and coworkers say they cannot believe that they are witnessing this injustice first-hand.

Pam is two months shy of her one-year anniversary at Home Depot which would allow her a leave of absence, a continuance of health benefits and a raise. Instead, Pam will lose her job, and when - and if - she is released in the agreed upon 65 days, she will have to start all over again, again.

Pam will return to court on Friday, February 27th where she will ask for a one-month continuance so that she can put her affairs in order. If her request is denied, Pam will be taken into custody and re-incarcerated then and there. Friends and community leaders will hold a rally and press conference at 9AM on Friday, February 27th in front of the Los Angeles Suprerior Court at 11701 S. La Cienega, 90045.



Action Committee for Women in Prison
1249 N. Holliston
Pasadena, California 91104

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