First Days of Freedom for Eddy Zheng

In 2005, we reported on The Last Stand of Eddy Zheng, the bizarre legal saga of the Chinese immigrant to Oakland who has spent his entire adult life trying to repay a crime of his youth. As a sixteen-year-old, Zheng participated in an armed robbery and was sentenced to seven years to life in prison, although he was expected to serve only eight or nine of those years. Instead, despite becoming a model prisoner who wrote poetry, published zines, and worked with youth programs from inside San Quentin, Zheng served more than nineteen, rousing massive support from Bay Area progressive leaders and Asian-American organizers who felt he had been punished more than enough and had become an exemplary member of the community. Zheng was finally paroled in 2005, but instead of being released, because of errors made by his defense attorneys when he was a teenager, Zheng was placed in immigration detention pending deportation to China. After nearly two more years of legal wrangling, Anmol Chaddha, who runs Zheng’s Web site tells us that his friend — now 37 — has finally been released from detention. However, Chaddha points out, his deportation is still pending despite a legal challenge to it. Nevertheless, for Eddy Zheng, it is his first taste of the outside world in 21 years.

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