One injustice that simply won’t end: The saga of Brandon Hein


Some students of mine from past semesters know that — for a host of personal and other reasons — the mind-boggling injustice of Brandon Hein’s continued imprisonment has concerned me for years.

More information about Brandon’s case can be found here, although the blog is only occasionally updated. Actor Charles Grodin has also devoted significant time and effort  to the cause of undoing this injustice. And William Gazecki’s superb documentary Reckless Indifference is still an excellent introduction to Brandon’s case.

We must never, ever, forget Brandon Hein.

And it is time for Governor Jerry Brown to use his executive powers to end Brandon’s imprisonment.

11 thoughts on “One injustice that simply won’t end: The saga of Brandon Hein

    • What a kind offer. Please do send Brandon my very best and tell him that we will never forget and never rest until he is released. Never.

      And when he finally does get the justice he deserves, tell him there’s a big family in New York who would be happy to show him around the Big Apple.


      Steve Gorelick

  1. You also might tell him that , while I don’t know what direction he wants to take his art, I think he is in a truly extraordinary position to do a riveting graphic novel of his own experience. His haunting style would be just perfect for this kind of work. I wonder how much Brandon has read or enjoyed graphic novels like the for vendetta or Black Hole or others.

  2. I watched the documentary “Reckless Indifference’ over 4 years ago and still check on Brandon Hein to see whether or not he has been freed. This story had a huge impact on me and how our criminal justice system fails people who are innocent. America is about locking people up, and not about rehabilitating. I believe that Brandon did not need rehabilitation. He ran around with the wrong type of friends, but so many people have been in the same situation. I been there and could very well have been in the same situation as Brandon. Luckily I live in Michigan. I grew up and realized there was more to life than what I was living. I now have a beautiful daughter and on my way to becoming a Corrections Officer. Brandon had his whole life a head of him and was cheated out of it because of who he knew and hung around with. Brandon is no longer that young teen I seen when I watched Reckless Indifference, but I still feel 100% that our justice system failed him and the other young men involved. Don’t ever give up hope.

    • Unfortunately, Brandon is still in prison.

      The only thing mitigating this injustice — for me — is watching this incredible young man and now accomplished artist move forward with his life under horrible circumstances.

      This is probably as a good a place as any to say that I will never forget the precious life of Jimmy Farris, the 16 year-old stabbed to death by someone other than Brandon during the commission of the crime. Brandon remains in prison under the felony murder rule.

      And while I probably don’t have to say it, I would never want anyone to think that my admiration for Brandon and absolute belief that his continued imprisonment is an incredible injustice means that I have overlooked what happened during the commission of that crime and the fact that Brandon was a participant in a horrible event. His judgement was atrocious. I am sure he knows it.

      But if there is a case anywhere that points out the disproportionality of life sentences without parole for someone present when a homicide occurs during the commission of a felony (whether of not they comm fitted the homicide), this is it.

      Brandon deserves immediate release.

  3. I have a friend at Lancaster. He is one of the inmates that has worked so hard for the honor yards and art program. Life without the possibility of parole is like ” The other death penalty”
    Prayers go out to Brandon and his family and friends.

  4. I just want you to know, we have your news paper clipping on our back fridge. I check from time to time to see whats going with you Brandon. I live in Agoura Hills, have a 20yo, 11yo & 8yo. We use your story for inspiration. We never forget you and your story. We remember to rise above and we know it’s a cure world out there. Just have faith, as we have for you if you ever don’t.

    • What wonderfully compassionate sentiments. Just knowing that there are people like you — so full of mercy and forgiveness and decency — makes me hopeful.

    • I too use this story to educate my boys about how accidents can go horribly wrong! I don’t think ANY of those boys deserve the time they are doing. I truly believe it was an accident. In any case Brandon should most definitely not be behind bars! I can’t imagine the pain and grief! Brandon’s aunt was my english professor and she opened my eyes to his case. Our family prays for yours and hopes that justice is served! Stay strong! God has big plans for you family!

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