After 32 years in prison, woman released with help from new CA law, nonprofit legal aid

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Saturday, January 7, 2023
Woman released from prison after 32 years thanks to new CA law
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Ranza Marshall spent 32 years behind bars for participating in an armed robbery that left a store owner shot, but she was not the one who pulled the trigger.

It's a moment 50-year-old Ranza Marshall never thought would come.

"I'm just blessed to still have my parents and I'm just so happy to be able to start over again," Ranza said.

On Friday she walked out of the California Institution for Women after serving 32 years behind bars for her role in an armed robbery of a jewelry store where the owner was shot.

"First, I just want to go home and just really take in my parents because they've been here since day one," Ranza said.

In 1990 Ranza was convicted of charges including robbery and attempted murder even though she never pulled the trigger.

Ceasar McDowell, CEO of Unite the People, a nonprofit organization that promotes social justice said, "She got caught up in something that she shouldn't have but it was something she didn't do."

Unite the People provided affordable legal services to Ranza to help get her out of prison.

Rosemary Chávez, chief counsel for Unite the People, said, "There's so much potential in that building and in this person. People are not disposable."

Under a new California law, McDowell said Ranza's attempted murder conviction could be dismissed because she was not the shooter and never meant to kill anyone.

Last month a judge resentenced Ranza and granted her parole.

McDowell said, "The opportunity they give us when they come to us to help reunite them with their family, that's big for all of us."

Ranza's mother, Arwilda Marshall said, "She's here now so from today we go forward."

Ranza said, "New start, new mindset and I want give back to my community and I want to be successful."

Unite the People plans to be by Ranza's side during the entire re-entry process back into society which will include her going back to school and interning for the organization.