“You Handed Us Our Lifeline”

Photos by Patricia Williams

April 25, 2017: At STF’s Year-End Leadership Workshop, Sara Kruzan, human rights defender and formerly incarcerated youth, shared her heart-rending story of being sex trafficked at age 13 and being sentenced to juvenile life without parole (JLWOP) at 16 for killing her pimp. Through emotions of joy and pain, she reminded her audience why STF’s work is so critical: “When you are incarcerated you are made to feel that you don’t have a place. You begin to question your purpose and value; do you even matter? It is individuals, like you guys (STF has repeatedly worked on juvenile justice issues), who really care, that make the difference. You hand us our lifeline… The work that you’re doing is absolutely amazing. Each of you has the ability to make a change. You may not have the opportunity to see the effects, but you will feel the difference in your heart.”

[Note: An earlier generation of STF chapters joined thousands of activists writing to and advocating for Governor Schwarzenegger to grant Sara clemency. In 2011 the Governor commuted her sentence and Sara was ultimately paroled in 2013 from Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla after serving 19 years.]

Sara was introduced at the workshop by veteran juvenile justice activist Javier Stauring, who met with STF last fall to educate students about the Proposition 57 campaign for juvenile justice. Students, teachers and special guests from 12 STF chapters gathered at the workshop to continue to learn how to be more effective human rights advocates and to remember we are part of something bigger than ourselves, or just one school.

Student leaders also reviewed the spring “Know Your Rights, Protect Our Rights” campaign, and the recent productive STF delegation meeting with Congressman Ted Lieu.

Learn about Sara Kruzan’s experience while incarcerated (6:15)

(Click to watch, 6:15)

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