Frances in the Fight
Cruz in Court
In addition to the resilient inmates and advocacy organizations, one brave and determined Texan attorney played a vital role in the fight for prison reform. Frances Jalet-Cruz, a graduate from Colombia Law School, is known for representing Texas inmates in numerous lawsuits against the Texas Department of Corrections. One particular case involved an inmate named Fred Cruz. After loaning his Buddhist literature to other inmates, Fred Cruz was sent to solitary. This religious discrimination was the beginning of Frances' battle in the courtroom.
This letter from the Buddhist Churches of America to Fred Cruz not only expresses their sympathy in the matter but also directly acknowledges Frances as making progress in the legal fight. Correspondences such as this not only highlight Frances' pivotal role in this fight for justice but also serve as an important reminder. This letter was sent to a man seeking justice, a man whose rights had been violated, a man that most would only view as a criminal. This limited viewpoint was not one that Frances shared with society. Frances viewed Fred and each of the inmates she represented as clients and men who simply needed aid in their legal fight. As their attorney, Frances worked against a society and institution that too often silenced the voices of communities within confinement to legally pursue the much-needed reform.
Cruz as a Revolutionary
On Tuesday, December 19, 1972, the story of Frances Jalet-Cruz and the false accusations made against her made headlines. Although her work was revered by those she represented, Frances' work caused her to be viewed as an enemy by those who she worked to bring to justice. Representing multiple inmates in their fight against the system that seeks to silence them led to the conspiracy that Frances was conspiring to cause a revolution amongst prison inmates. Although the news article clearly states that she was exonerated of all conspiracy charges, these accusations prove the lengths that the affiliated state system would go to in an attempt to silence valued voices, voices that demanded accountability and justice. This transference of guilt is a pattern that is sadly still present in today's society. Instead of listening to the voices of those directly in the system, this transference strategy was and is used as another form of silencing those that bring attention to issues that go unrecognized and unchanged.