J Vasquez

Policy & Legal Services Manager


At 16 years old, J was processed through adult court and sentenced to 31 years to life. Repeatedly told that he would always be a gang member and never get out of prison, J earned six associate degrees with honors, co-founded a mentoring program for incarcerated young people, created curriculum for two dozen self-help workshops, and volunteered as a staff writer for the prison newsletter. After serving 25 years, J was released in late 2018 but never forgot about the people he left behind.

Today, J organizes individuals facing criminal charges as well as their families to positively impact the outcome of court cases. J also advocates for criminal and juvenile justice reform through coalition building and legislative state policy campaigns. J’s work has seen the passage of Senate Bill 203, which protects young people’s Miranda rights; Proposition 17 which restored voting rights for 50,000 Californians on parole; and the defeat of Proposition 20, which would have dramatically increased mass incarceration in California. J is currently working on the following campaigns: Police Decertification (SB 2), the CRISES Act (AB 118), End Endless Juvenile Probation (AB 503), the Cunningham Fix (SB 567), and the Family Unity Act (AB 990).

J is a FICPFM Organizing Fellowship Alumni and served on the Raheem Advisory Council which collected community input regarding use-of-force encounters by Oakland Police. He is a member of the Justice Reinvestment Coalition Steering Committee as well as a member of the Alameda County DA Accountability Subcommittee. Last year, as a Willie Brown Fellow, J interned in Supervisor Shamann Walton’s office representing District 10 in San Francisco where he staffed the Close Juvenile Hall working group and participated in the Latino Task Force Violence Prevention/Reentry Subcommittee.

J graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in Sociology and minor in Criminal Justice Studies from SFSU and was selected as the 2021 hood recipient for the College of Health & Social Sciences. J is highly motivated to serve his community, particularly marginalized and system-impacted people, as part of his living amends and also because J believes that he is representing all of his fellow lifers still behind prison walls.

    Back to top