Freedom for Duc Ta!

Just a quick note for those who check in here from time to time to find out what’s happening with Duc.

I am so happy to report that Duc’s parole hearing ended today with the recommendation that he be released in five months.

It’s about time!

The decision still has to be agreed to by the whole Board and by Jerry Brown, but we don’t anticipate any glitch there.

[Update: I realize a number of people have ended up at this post without finding the further information so it finally occurred to me now (May 2014) to add this note: Duc was released to housing with the Amity Foundation in downtown LA where he was hired to lead seminars for other men on release and also took on the responsibility for lining up housing and services for prisoners eligible for release after the barbaric Three Strikes law was amended. It’s a huge job that keeps him very busy and after a short while, Stanford University’s Three Strikes Project became his direct employer though he remains in residence at Amity. He is a remarkable man!]

Diane visiting friend Duc Ta in prison

And many thanks, as always, to Leslie Neale who has been an enduring support to Duc ever since she featured his story in her documentary, Juvies.


* * * * *

And I’ll be reporting soon about her new documentary, Unlikely Friends, about the healing relationships that have grown between violent perpetrators and their victims.

Unlikely Friends

Tickets for the screening on April 27th in Los Angeles to benefit the Amity Foundation can be purchased by clicking here.

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13 Responses to “Freedom for Duc Ta!”

  1. Carla Antrobus Says:

    I just saw the movie, “Juvies,” last night in a class I am taking at the University of North Florida. This young man has not left my mind since. I am so sorry that this has happened to him. I want to do something for him. I need to know when he is released and how I can contact him. He deserves the very best possible life when he is free. How can I find out when he is released? Will you let everyone know? I am just an old “mama,” but there is something about this young man and I want to be sure that he has ALL that he needs to heal, grow and live peacefully and fulfilled for the rest of his life. I am so happy to find that he is going to be released but I will not rest until I know that he is OUT of there. PLEASE let me know. Thank-you. I know there are others like him and that much needs to be done for all children who have been unjustly incarcerated. I plan to become very, very dedicated to finding solutions to this atrocity, but I need peace about this young man.

  2. desilef Says:

    Thank you so much for posting your comment and caring about Duc and so many other kids.
    I’ll write to you directly as well as posting a reply here so I can be sure to keep your email address.
    Right now, Duc is still in Corcoran State Prison but when I heard from him a couple of days ago, he said please no letters now as it’s possible he’ll be released and the mail will take forever to be processed and forwarded. But in truth, we still don’t know for sure. The recommendation following his parole hearing has not been signed off on yet. The entire board and the governor have until August 27 to approve or veto his release. We certainly hope to have news before then, but it’s possible this will be right down to the wire. I will post a note on the blog once he’s free. Also, we do know he will be moving into transitional housing at Amistad in Los Angeles, but I won’t send you that address till I know he’s there and mail will reach him. Again, many thanks.

  3. Volney Eugene Hyde, Sr. Says:

    I’ve had a VHS tape of “Juvies” for 11 years and finally watched it. It was heart-breaking. If you could get word to Duc that he is in my thoughts and prayers I would appreciate it. To hear from him personally would be even more rewarding. His story and poetry literally brought me to tears. I can be reached at or on my Facebook page at Volney Eugene Hyde, Sr. Oh, yeah…a little side note: I had the tape only for the reason…I was in it. I’m the bald black guy with the beard commenting on youth sentencing. I really hope to hear from him. God bless.

    • desilef Says:

      Dear Mr. Hyde. I am so sorry to be so late in responding to your message. I was out-of-town when you wrote me and while I did forward your kind words to Duc as soon as I returned, I just realized I never wrote to you. I do hope you hear from Duc soon. He’s been working with the Amity Foundation on a number of issues. Mostly, he’s being paid by the Stanford Three Strikes Project to work on reentry plans for people being released thanks to the reform of Three Strikes. He’s putting in so many hours of work, it’s been hard to catch up with him lately. In prison, he spent much of his free time writing letters, but these days, free time isn’t what he has much of! But he’s doing well. He had been living at Amity with hundreds of others post-release but now has moved in with a cousin. He needs some separation from the 24/7 world of prison. When I saw him a little more than a month ago, he and a few other Asian Americans were trying to start an outreach project to Asian American kids at risk for gang involvement. Duc hopes to continue working on youth and incarceration issues but part-time, as a volunteer, not as his real career and the center of his life in freedom. I — and I’m sure Duc — appreciate your support, both in the documentary and now.

      • Volney Eugene Hyde, Sr. Says:

        No worries on the delay, just GLAD to hear Duc is doing well. Sometimes God uses the mistakes of one to enlighten many. I hope this is the case for Duc. Many blessing to you for being in his corner when so many turned their backs on him as a lost cause. Take care!

  4. Chris mccausland Says:

    I had bought the movie juvies about ten years ago when I was 15 and going three my own troubles as a teen and I watched it and was so touched by everyone’s story including ducs I brought it in to my high school and had teachers play it in there class so I could help spread the word now I’m 25 and have done some time my self and have a baby girl now I haven’t had a chance to stay up on all this but I’m so happy to hear about ducs relese so so happy just glad every thing is working out for him he deserves the world and more

    • desilef Says:

      I hope everything is going well for you too. I am also touched that you remember Duc and even brought the movie to your high school to reach others. Makes me think you deserve the world as well. Wishing you and your baby girl much happiness in the coming year and then some!

  5. Nou Lor Says:

    I am so truly happy to hear that an angel like you care so much about a person like Duc to go far beyond to get to his freedom. As I watched this video twice, Duc has not left my mind ever since watching the Documentary of Juvies. I am just a college student but, watching these type of documentary opens up different path into life and wanting to change the world where their are equal rights to everyone. So glad that hear that Duc is doing well and is starting an outreach program to help other youths. Hoping that one day I will get to meet and have a chit chat with Duc. Hope all goes well, you inspired me to do better for this world. If I can hear from your response, my email is

    • desilef Says:

      Thank you for your message. It’s wonderful to know that Juvies and Duc inspired you. I haven’t spoken to him lately. Duc reached a point where he wanted to put the prison experience behind him and move ahead with his life without being reminded all the time of so much pain. He thought he would volunteer with youth but not let the criminal justice system be the focus of his life. His cousin, who is successful in the tech industry, offered him a place to stay and a chance to move forward. And I’m looking forward to the day when he’s happy with what he’s accomplished and gets back in touch.

  6. Dr. Ricky S. Gutierrez Says:

    As a criminal justice professor, I have been showing the film Juvies for close to 14 years. Duc’s case always illuminates the plight of poorly conceived laws that added years to the sentences of many who quite frankly, deserved far less. It was not until today that I found this page as I asked students to do some research and find out any information they could about him, but to no avail. I found this page on my own and am so happy he is doing well and now can provide information to my what a resilient human being he is. Thanks for posting this page and if Duc ever feels like contacting me if and when he is in Sacramento, I would be happy to sit down and have a discussion about the important work he is doing!

    • Dr. Ricky S. Gutierrez Says:

      The comment should say “provide information to my students” about…

    • desilef Says:

      Dr. Gutierrez, thanks for writing, and most of all, thank you for what you do to open the eyes of young people and challenge them. Duc reached a point where he needed to put the whole prison experience behind him and move forward with his life. When he explained this to me some years ago, it was sort of a goodbye (or a temporary one) as he expected to make his contribution to others once again after he felt secure and established as a returned citizen. I believe he still does some volunteer work with Asian American and Pacific Islander youth, but from what I gather he’s mostly focused these days on marketing and culinary work. Thank you for caring.

      • desilef Says:

        Dr. Gutierrez, It occurred to me your students might be interested in this essay I wrote some years ago (2011) as it features Duc as well as other material about juvenile in/justice. It’s old, so some laws have changed and, as you know, Duc is free, as is Sara Kruzan who now works to help others get parole. You need Adobe Flash to read it due to the format used by the magazine.

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