Last Stand of Eddie Zheng
by Kara Platoni, East Bay Express
Eddy Zheng has hundreds of supporters, an army of lawyers, the governor’s okay, and a new wife. So why does homeland security want to deport him?
The skinny, money-obsessed kid was one of three teenagers who committed an intensely frightening robbery-kidnap as clumsy as it was horrific. All three young men were caught immediately. Zheng received the maximum sentence — seven years to life — and his attorneys expected him to serve eight or nine years.
By the late ’90s, Zheng already had served twice that. He’d also made a stunning transformation from junior hoodlum to star pupil at San Quentin. He taught himself English, and earned a GED and an associate of arts degree. He developed a deep love of poetry, self-publishing his own zines and organizing the prison’s first poetry slam. He worked with “scared straight” programs, urging teenagers to avoid his fate. He carried on a torrential correspondence with civic leaders and literary luminaries in the outside world, who were attracted by his intellectual voracity and his evident desire to atone for the past. He avoided drugs and eschewed gangs. He didn’t just do time; he did it well.
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