Lisa Smusz 0

Free Mary!

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Eight years ago while living in New Mexico, Mary Hogden was at one of the lowest points of her life. Dealing with the terminal illness of her father, struggling with serious physical health problems, mental health issues, and an abusive partner, Mary ultimately ended up homeless as well as using and selling drugs.  Ultimately, she was arrested for trying to sell to an undercover police officer. 

Mary hit rock bottom and made a decision to leave New Mexico and start a new life. In legal terms it was a terrible mistake -- she hadn't dealt with her legal issues yet and became a fugitive. In personal terms it was what may have saved her life -- away from the ghosts and social circles of New Mexico, she reinvented herself. 

Landing in Berkeley, Mary received treatment and support from Berkeley Mental Health system. She worked her way through the programs and supportive housing systems, recovering from addiction and her mental health issues. She found full-time work and was able to enjoy the satisfaction of once again having her own apartment to call home.

Mary chose a profession where she could help others that were struggling, working as an outreach worker and advocate for people with mental health issues in Alameda County. She worked tirelessly: organizing, supporting, and helping others. She became a leader in the Alameda County Pool of Consumer Champions where she volunteered hundreds of hours over three years, and was hired by Alameda County Behavioral Healthcare Services to oversee Consumer Relations where she is greatly admired and highly respected. 

But now, that fateful choice to flee New Mexico has come back to haunt her. On February 1st, two US Marshalls entered her work place where they arrested and hand-cuffed her, taking her to Santa Rita Jail where she is currently held without bail while she waits to be extradited to New Mexico. 

Mary is in real danger of losing everything she has fought so hard to attain -- her job, her apartment, and her ability to do the things that keep her mentally well. The community is in danger of losing a great leader, supporter, and role model as well. 

We know that Mary must be accountable for her past. But we ask the court to consider that this is a loving, loyal, and hard-working woman who is not only fully rehabilitated, but actively making a huge contribution to the community, helping others to break the cycle of mental illness, homelessness and drug addiction as she has done. 

Is the purpose of our judicial system punishment or rehabilitation? If the purpose is to rehabilitate people and stop crime, then that purpose is better served by freeing Mary on probation and allowing her to return to her work in Alameda County helping others, not imprisoning her.

Sign this petition if you believe the court should FREE MARY to return to Alameda County!


PEERS is a consumer-run organization that promotes wellness for people with mental health difficulties and their families through community outreach, empowerment, education, advocacy for social inclusion, and elimination of stigma and discrimination.


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