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1-pg profile of PJ: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1GAOynQvCFDdlhH3CFJyc-4GZpe0S-4nEZtPiZLH0mmg/
Re: Letter of Support to Pardon Borey Ai (CDCR# K42190)
Dear Governor Brown:
I am writing to express my support to pardon Mr. Borey “PJ” Ai. Mr. Ai is an outstanding leader, mentor, and advocate. Mr. Ai currently faces deportation to Cambodia, a country he has never set foot in.
Mr. Ai fled to the United States with his family to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide when he was four years old and spent his childhood surrounded by poverty and violence. In first grade, he experienced a mass shooting at Cleveland Elementary School, which killed his cousin. With an absent father and a family that lacked the resources to support him through his trauma, Mr. Ai turned to gang involvement for a sense of safety and acceptance.
At 14, Mr. Ai and three older gang members committed an armed robbery at a liquor store. The store owner grabbed Mr. Ai’s gun, which discharged, killing the store owner. Mr. Ai surrendered himself to police and was tried as an adult, becoming one of California’s youngest individuals to be sentenced to life in prison.
While incarcerated, Mr. Ai took on leadership roles in numerous volunteer programs such as San Quentin’s SQUIRES, which mentors at-risk youth, and facilitated classes to help incarcerated men process trauma through programs like Restoring Out Original True Selves (ROOTS), Guiding Rage Into Power (GRIP), and Kid C.A.T. Mr. Ai’s leadership in Kid C.A.T was integral to the success of juvenile justice reforms such as Senate Bill (SB) 9- California Fair Sentencing for Youth, SB 260 and SB 261-Justice for Juveniles with Adult Sentencing. Additionally, Mr. Ai is a certified rape, crisis, and domestic violence counselor. After 20 years in prison, Mr. Ai was granted parole at his initial parole board hearing in recognition of his positive contributions to his community and the fact that he is no longer a danger to society.
Mr. Ai was released from state prison in 2016. However, rather than being reunited with his family, Mr. Ai was transferred directly to a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainment facility, where he spent 18 months. Mr. Ai was released from ICE on May 10th, 2018, but remains under ICE supervision and could be deported during the next round of deportations to Cambodia.
Since his release, he has started a part-time job at Guiding Rate Into Power (GRIP) as the Project Coordinator, where he provides support for GRIP rehabilitative programs in California state prisons, including orientations, trainings, event planning, reports, and other administrative and project support. Additionally, Mr. Ai has started a part-time internship at the Asian Prisoner Support Committee (APSC), where he provides reentry support, community outreach and engagement, and youth delinquency prevention activities. He is also working with youth programs in Oakland, including Asian Health Services Youth Program.
Mr. Ai has widespread community support -- as demonstrated by support letters for pardon from the API Legislative Caucus, Southeast Asia Resource Action Center, Chinese for Affirmative Action, Silicon Valley Debug, Advancing Justice - Asian Law Caucus, Fathers & Families of San Joaquin, Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), National Education Association (NEA), California Immigrant Policy Center (CIPC), Root & Rebound, The Progressive Vietnamese American Organization, Asian Prisoner Support Committee, and more.
Mr. Ai is committed to reforming not only his own life, but the lives of others. Mr. Ai’s contributions to our community demonstrate that he deserves a second chance. I support his request for a pardon so that he may continue improving our community. Please contact me if you have any questions.