For the past several months, tens of thousands of Change.org members and anti-trafficking advocates around the country have been asking Governor Schwarzenegger to release imprisoned child trafficking victim Sara Kruzan with time served. Last night, he responded to her clemency petition by commuting her sentence from life without the possibility of parole to 25 years to life. That means for the first time in 16 years, Sara Kruzan has hope that, after being enslaved or imprisoned for most of her life, she will finally be free. Sixteen-year-old human trafficking victim Sara Kruzan was sentenced to life in prison without parole when, in a desperate act to escape years of sexual slavery, she shot her pimp. Now 32, Sara has spent half her life in prison as a model prisoner. In September, she finally asked Governor Schwarzenegger for clemency, having served over a decade and a half in prison for a crime she committed as a traumatized child.
The outpouring of support for Sara's clemency petition and tenacity of the campaigns to release her have been staggering. Over 40,000 Change.org members sent letters to Governor Schwarzenegger, asking him to release Sara with time served. Changemakers and activists throughout the country called for her release, in the name of justice, through op-eds and open letters. Additionally, campaigns were launched and driven by grassroots activists who organized thousands of people from across the country to call, tweet at, Facebook, and even fax the Governator showing their support for Sara. Some even sent him holidays cards with pleas for Sara's freedom. Over the past several months, America showed overwhelming material support for this remarkable woman and overwhelming symbolic support for the thousands of young girls who today are enslaved in the commercial sex industry, just like Sara was.
Governor Schwarzenegger, on the final day before leaving office, commuted Sara's sentence of life without parole to 25 years to life, with the possibility of parole. While he did not release her with time served, as many advocates had hoped, that he granted her clemency at all is extraordinary. It's a victory for Sara. It's a victory for her hard-working legal team. It's a victory for the vast network of organizers and activists who came together to demand and end the the institutional injustices Sara has suffered. And for all of you who signed the petition, tweeted, called, sent holidays cards, or otherwise participated in the campaign, it is a victory for you. You helped give the hope of freedom to a young woman who overcame a childhood riddled with slavery and abuse to become a strong, successful, accomplished woman.
Sara and her legal team are currently exploring next steps, but the commutation of her sentence alone is a hugely hopeful sign that, someday, Sara Kruzan may be free. And when that day comes, she will be able to share her extraordinary courage and strength with the world. Thank you to everyone who has supported Sara over the last few months. We will continue to keep you informed of her case and more opportunities for support as it moves forward.