Gov. Jerry Brown pardons community activist Eddy Zheng

After being incarcerated for over 20 years, Zheng dedicated his life to preventing youth violence.

Formerly incarcerated Chinatown community leader Eddy Zheng, who spent almost two decades in prison for a crimes committed as a teenager, has been granted a pardon by California Governor Jerry Brown.

Chinatown activist among 83 pardoned by Gov. Brown

Zheng was 16 in 1986 when he and two other teens staged a home invasion, tying up a Chinatown family and robbing their store. He was convicted of burglary, kidnapping, assault and other crimes and served 19 years in prison with five years parole. He completed his sentence five years ago.

When he was released from prison, Zheng dedicated his life to preventing youth violence and delinquency, working with the Community Youth Center of San Francisco and serving on a number of city commissions and councils. He was among 83 people who were pardoned by the governor on Easter Sunday.

Gov. Jerry Brown on Sunday granted pardons to 83 people. An announcement by Brown's office said that each person has been out of state prison for at least 10 years and leads a productive life with no new criminal convictions. Most of them had been convicted of drug and robbery cases.

Zheng said he feels like he won the lottery.

"It doesn't change the fact that I committed my crime," Zheng said. "It doesn't change that I hurt my victims, my community, my family and myself."

But he said that the pardon validates his rehabilitation.

This is a guy who has clearly turned his life around, and he's shown it in every way that matters. But Zheng, who is now married with a 17-month-old daughter, still faces possible deportation for the crimes of his youth. He is expected to appear before an immigration judge in May and is hopeful the pardon will bolster his case.

More here: Chinatown activist among 83 pardoned by Gov. Brown

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