Gabriela Solano is an incarcerated immigrant and survivor of domestic violence who will soon be released from prison after unjustly serving time for actions of her abusive boyfriend and his acquaintances. But on her first day of freedom, she will face deportation to Mexico, a country she left as a baby, and the dangerous conditions in ICE detention during the COVID pandemic. Instead of receiving healing and support services for her trauma, she was criminalized, and now faces deportation from the only home she’s ever known.
Even though she took no actions and held no intent to end anyone’s life, Gabriela suffered from the connected experiences of domestic violence and punitive measures like the Felony Murder Rule, which allowed her to be sentenced to Life Without Parole with an additional 25 years to life. In December 2018, Governor Brown commuted Gabriela’s sentence. Sign this petition to urge Governor Newsom to stop the transfer of Gabriela to ICE detention for deportation proceedings and instead release her to the care of her family and community.
Why is this important?
Gabriela came to California with her parents as a Lawful Permanent Resident from Mexico when she was a two-year-old child. Her parents worked full time raising Gabriela and her two siblings in El Monte, California. Facing peer pressure, she began sporadically using drugs and skipping school. Eventually, she ran away from home and began experiencing relationship violence. At 18 years old, she met someone who would inflict extreme physical and emotional abuse for the next 8 years.
By her 26th birthday, Gabriela tried to leave the relationship but, like many survivors, felt afraid and stuck. A few days later, Gabriela’s boyfriend coerced her to drive him and his friends to steal a car. Later that night, the friend of Gabriela’s boyfriend started an argument with a pedestrian walking by that to Gabriela’s horror quickly escalated to a fight and a murder. Gabriela’s boyfriend threatened her with violence if she went to the police to report. Although Gabriela did not kill anyone or have any intent to harm or kill anyone, she was unfairly charged with murder under the Felony Murder Rule. At trial, the jury was blocked from hearing from domestic violence experts on how years of abuse had prevented her from leaving. Gabriela was sentenced to Life Without the Possibility of Parole (LWOP) and an additional 25 years to life.
Despite this devastating course of events, Gabriela spent the last 20 years seeking positive change for herself and for others. Gabriela worked hard to heal from the longstanding effects of her own trauma. She took over 1,000 hours of rehabilitative classes and volunteered to support fellow incarcerated survivors through the Walk of Love project. She obtained an outside counselor for substance abuse and is going on 21 years of sobriety. Using her training in office services, she served as a clerk for over 12 years and earned a GED, an A.A. degree in Social and Behavioral Sciences, and received her second A.A. in Liberal Arts in December 2020. Gabriela wants to be a social worker to help prevent kids from going down the road she did, and serve as an interpreter to support limited English speakers at the consulate or a courthouse.
In December of 2018, in recognition of her commitment to service, mentorship, and rehabilitation, former Governor Brown commuted Gabriela’s sentence to 20 years to life. However, due to Gabriela’s immigration status and her conviction, Gabriela will be automatically arrested by ICE on her release date. Governor Newsom and CDCR have no legal obligation to work with ICE, and yet California Governors and CDCR have a history of cooperating with ICE. This inhumane practice must end now. Urge Governor Newsom to #StopICEtransfers and release Gabriela to the care of her family and community. Gabriela loves languages, 90’s music, and sewing. She is a daughter, sister, aunt, friend, and valued community leader. Our communities in California have so much to gain from her courageous empathy and leadership.
For more updates on the fight to #FreeGabby and how you can take action to support, follow us on Twitter @survivepunish.
* Due to Gabriela’s exemplary rehabilitative record and the circumstances of her excessively harsh Life Without the Possibility of Parole (LWOP) sentence, the Governor reduced or granted her a parole eligible date so that she would have a chance of earning parole through the parole board hearing process.