After serving nearly 26 years in prison on a 15 years to life sentence, Martina Olea, a client of the Post-Conviction Justice Project since 1999, was released from prison and reunited with her family in Mexico.
Ms. Olea, a migrant worker with a long history of abuse at the hands of her parents and then her husband, had been found suitable for parole six times in the last eight years. Governors Gray Davis and Arnold Schwarzenegger reversed the first five parole grants based on little more than the nature of the commitment offense. In February 2011, Governor Jerry Brown allowed the California Board of Parole Hearings’ sixth finding of suitability to stand.
During her incarceration at the California Institution for Women, Ms. Olea built an exemplary and inspiring record of self-improvement, gaining insight into the causative factors of her crime, including her issues with a lifetime of trauma and abuse, as well as her struggle with alcoholism. She was also an active member of Convicted Women Against Abuse, a support group for women whose crimes stemmed from abuse, and earned her high school diploma in 2010.
Ms. Olea returned to Tijuana where she was reunited with friends and family, including her sons. Ms. Olea plans to use her understanding of alcoholism and the cycle of abuse to counsel others in her community who struggle with the same issues.