Letter from Prison, from Ajay Dev

Ajay Dev in 2017 with his two sons

by Ajay Dev

I received a letter from someone I never met. She learned about me through a friend who knew about my case. She had read my story and the facts behind it, believed I was innocent, and expressed her sincere support for my cause. Needless to say, I was very grateful for her letter. 2021 was another difficult year for everyone. It was for me as well. I want to thank those who reached out and wrote to me this year. Your letters of love, encouragement and care gifted me the sanity and strength I needed; and your thoughtfulness helped calm my emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion. Thank you too to those who have continually prayed for me and kept me in your thoughts. And a special thanks to those who shared my story and acted on my behalf to keep my story alive. I am extremely grateful.

Do you remember when I wrote to you my first public letter in 2009? I said “.. .no matter how tough I try to be I have my moments…/ have got to learn to cry… “Twelve years later, these sentiments remain the same. You see everyone knows that trials are where the truth is discovered and justice is dispensed, where an impartial judge or jury sifts through the evidence and the arguments of prosecutors and defense attorneys, and then arrive at a just results. But what if that doesn’t happen? What if fantasy is endorsed as reality, and the truth is left knocking at the door? My questions remain the same. How do you prove that you didn’t commit a crime when there is no physical evidence against you, just an unexplained “she said” case? How do you live with the knowledge that the courts have labeled you a “rapist”, because someone has made a false accusation with clear motive? How do you keep hope alive, when every time you push the rock uphill, it rolls back down to the bottom, and you have to start all over to convince the world of your innocence?

For victims of wrongful conviction/incarceration, a prison sentence is a shattering experience. During the period before and during trial, the innocent is sustained by a hope that the terrible mistaken accusation will be refuted, justice will be served and innocence will prevail. Sentencing seems surreal, and then reality finally sinks in. In the end, the innocent is left with these choices: play nice, live a lie, publicly repent the crimes you didn’t commit, do your time, maybe get paroled, but get out period. Or be steadfast in your declarations of innocence, no matter what the cost. As for me, the cost has been extremely high. But I will stay strong and continue fighting through my Appeal process in the State Court because the truth of my innocence is the bright light that gives me courage to walk through the darkness as I cling to that hope that endures all fear.

After twelve years of imprisonment, mental and emotional hardship, and separation from my family I realized that they could take everything from me…everything except my mind and heart. These they couldn’t take from me. These I still have control over. And I have decided not to give them away. My fear is not about whether I will ever get out, but that when I do, there will not be enough left of me to put the pieces back together again. But I must keep my emotions in check to give myself a chance to heal. I’ve learned that when you forgive and forget you prevent others from holding your emotions hostage thus allowing you to move forward.

Earlier this year I was one of ten people who were selected to participate in the Peer Literacy Mentor Program {PLMP). PLMP is sponsored by Governor Newsom where we are asked to provide educational assistance to inmates. I have been mentoring and tutoring mathematics and working toward a certification as a Certified Literacy Mentor/Tutor. This work experience is truly satisfying to me. My aspiration in this Program is to be authentic in building trust between me and the students so to motivate them to follow my humble lead where it counts in education; and in tum, I hope they too will be inspired to do the same for others.

My sons are now 13 and 11 years old. They continue to give me hope, purpose and strength to fight for my freedom so I can come home to be with them. I often view the pictures they brought back from their trip to Nepal where I have my roots and where I grew up. I get sentimental when I think about how my sons visited the schools and classrooms I attended, walked the soccer fields I played on and stood on the stage I performed for my 5th grade drama class. There were also pictures of them in the small village where the legacy of the Dev family began. The people from this simple yet culturally rich village warmly embraced my sons and for that I’m grateful. Having them visit Nepal and seeing them connect to their roots and legacy is one of the greatest joy in my life because children learn what they live.

I ask that you remember me in your prayers and continue your commitment to stand by my side. I still believe, if love and compassion are in our hearts, every thought, word, and deed, it can bring about a miracle. May the holiday season and the New Year bring you good health, great success and much love, but most of all I wish you and yours a miracle.

In Freedom and Love…

Ajay Dev was convicted in Yolo County in 2009 and sentenced to 378 years in prison. He is currently at Mule Creek State Prison in Ione, CA.

About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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1 Comment

  1. Keith Olson

    I was thinking about Ajay Dev the other day and was wondering about his appeal and if he was still in prison.  Even if guilty, and that’s highly questionable, 12 years in prison is more than enough time for his alleged crime.  

    I sent an email years ago to the Governor asking for clemency in his case.

    Here’s the email for Gov. Newsom, there’s a “clemency” option that you can click on if anyone wants to  send a message.  I just sent another one.


    If there’s a better contact maybe David can post it here.

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