Andrade

FREEDOM GAINED — Monica Andrade shows off the pardon former Gov. Jerry Brown signed.

MOJAVE — Monica An­drade served 16 months in prison starting in 2002, fol­lowed by three years on parole.

Her crime? Man­u­fac­tur­ing a controlled sub­stance for sale, and child endangerment. More specifically, An­dra­de manufactured meth­am­phet­amine while her 13-year-old son was home.

Andrade completed her sentence and set out to change her life. She went to AV-East Kern Second Chance for help.

Michelle Egberts, an ex-felon herself, is founder and executive director of Sec­ond Chance. She ran “ex­pungement” workshops to help ex-felons clear their rec­ords. The two-hour work­shops are packed with information including the barriers people face as they work to clear their record.

“She educates on all the records that are out there,” Andrade said.

Expungement is a court-ordered process that allows an offender to seal or erase the legal record of an arrest or criminal conviction in the eyes of the law.

An individual is eligible for expungement if he or she committed a felony or misdemeanor and was not incarcerated in state prison, has fulfilled his or her probation, and was not convicted of an ineligible crime such as rape or child sexual abuse.

Andrade, 50, served time in prison, so she was not eligible to have her record expunged. But she was eligible for a Certificate of Rehabilitation.

A Certificate of Re­hab­il­itation is available only for people who have gone to prison. They can get it after a certain amount of time if they meet the criteria. If granted, the doc­ument restores some of the rights of citizenship that were forfeited as a result of a felony con­vic­tion. It also acts as an aut­o­matic application and rec­om­mendation for a pardon from the governor.

Andrade attended four or five of Egberts’ work­shops to begin work on get­ting her Certificate of Re­hab­ilitation. She re­ceived the document in December 2016.

“There is an 11-page ques­tionnaire just from the courts, from the DA’s office, that needs to be addressed, and if it’s not addressed cor­rect­ly you’re not going to get your COR,” Egberts said.

The application package includes character refer­en­ces from at least four peop­le who know you went to prison and have turned your life around. Andrade had at least 10 letters of rec­om­mendation. Andrade submitted her application for the pardon, including another seven pages of ques­tions, in August 2017.

Former California Gov. Jerry Brown signed An­drade’s pardon on Nov. 21.

“She’s our first pardon,” Egberts said.

Egberts estimated Sec­ond Chance has helped more than 2,000 people ex­punge their records since 2012.

“Everybody is eligible so I don’t discriminate,” Eg­berts said

However, she noted in­div­iduals who committed crimes such as murder, rape, or kidnapping are not eligible for a certificate of rehabilitation.

Andrade visited Egberts’ Mojave home to talk about her pardon and how she is working toward creating a bet­ter life for herself and her family.

Andrade’s 13-year-old son, Carlos Boquin, is now 30.

“He is my idol because he never gave up on me,” An­drade said.

Boquin continues to help his mother and her two youngest children, his sis­ters, after Andrade’s hus­band was deported back to Guatemala six years ago. She lives with Boquin and his family.

“It was either fall back and go back to my bad ways and repeat history again, or this time, my son said, ‘Mom, I’ll watch the kids, you go to school,’ ” An­dra­de said.

Andrade went to school. She received an associate of arts degree in 2014. She received a bachelor’s de­gree in criminal justice from California State Uni­ver­sity, Bakersfield in 2017.

She is working on her master’s degree in crim­in­al justice at Grand Canyon University. Andrade hopes to become a probation officer in the juvenile div­is­ion for the Los Angeles De­partment of Probation some­day. Her ultimate goal is law school.

“I’ve been through it; I’ve experienced it. So that now I can understand and I can relate, so that if anyone wants to talk to me I can be there for them, “ Andrade said. “That’s my goal — is to be there for someone else, to help someone else.”

Andrade got involved with meth because of a weight problem.

She weighed nearly 300 pounds at one point and was in abusive marriage. She started losing weight with the assistance of a doc­tor who prescribed fen­flur­mine-phentermine, or fen-phen, an anti-obesity treat­ment later found to cause potential fatal heart prob­lems that led to its with­drawal from the mar­ket.

Andrade met drug traf­fick­ers through her for­mer sec­urity job. They in­tro­duced her to meth to help her lose weight. The meth gave Andrade energy that kept her busy cleaning her house and helped keep the weight off. Andrade said she had children and could not go to the gym.

One thing led to another and Andrade eventually start­ed to cook her own meth. That eventually led to prison.

Andrade has seven chil­dren, The two oldest are boys and the rest are girls. At one point her five old­est children were taken away from her. All are now adults. Andrade has seven grand­children.

Andrade did not expect to get her pardon as soon as she did.

“It couldn’t come at a bet­ter time,” Andrade said.

After five years renting the same home, Andrade and her family face evic­tion.

“I don’t make a whole lot of money; none of us do,” she said.

Andrade is concerned that although she has a gov­ernor’s pardon, po­ten­tial landlords might see her rec­ord after a background check and deny her.

The background check will show what Andrade was convicted her and her prison term, along with her Certificate of Re­hab­ilitation and her pardon.

Egberts started AV-East Kern Second Chance with her former partner, Rich­ard Macias, a retired law en­forcement officer with 25 years’ experience. Macias now serves as director em­er­itus.

“Everybody deserves to be rehabilitated,” Egberts said.

Egberts was convicted in 2004 for grand theft. Her case involved more than $100,000.

“I have not been able to fiscally pay off my res­tit­u­tion. But I have done it and more by giving back to my community.” Egberts said.

Egberts is not proud of her crimes. She spent al­most three years in prison. When she left prison, she had a four-year degree in bus­i­ness administration with an understudy in mar­keting.

“Couldn’t find a job for nothing,” Egberts said.

Egberts still has not found a job. She has not cleared her own record.

“I haven’t had time,” she said.

That is because she con­tin­ues to help other felons. She no longer has a place to conduct the workshops, so she works from home. She walked across the room and picked up a package she received in the mail re­cently.

“There’s 13 cases in it from Long Beach,” Egberts said.

They do not make any money from Second Chance. Any money they do get goes toward supplies such as postage and ink.

“We’re looking for a home,” Egberts said.

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(1) comment

monica andrade

[smile]It has been a long journey and as you can see the journey does not end. I am trying very hard and although this is good news for me and my family the part of having to move is very difficult. I am hoping that I would have the help of the AV to give me the strength and courage that I need to keep this Journey a positive one. I am very thankful for those who believed in me and for my kids who always was there for me. Second Chance is real and they can help if you ready to make a change in your life.

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