things that matter

A 19-Year-Old Maid Was Convicted Of Stealing Jewelry, But The Jury Felt So Bad They Paid Her Fine

Sandra Mendez Ortega, an undocumented 19-year-old single mother with a baby on the way, works as a maid – a tough job that affords little pay and is mostly held by women of color. According to The Washington Post, she cleaned houses for just $60 a day.

While cleaning the home of Lisa Copeland, Mendez Ortega stole three rings worth $5,000, reports The Washington Post. Police investigated the theft and questioned three women that all cleaned the home of Copeland family. Though all three initially denied the the theft, eventually Mendez Ortega confessed, which led to her arrest.

Mendez Ortega, who claims she didn’t know how much the rings were worth, spent eight days in jail and was released on $1,000 bond. Police made Mendez Ortega write an apology letter to Copeland. She wrote in Spanish: “Sorry for grabbing the rings. I don’t know what happened. I want you to forgive me.”

credit: PressFrom

During her trial, which ended last week, the jury was moved by Mendez Ortega’s story. She dropped out of school after sixth grade, was pregnant at 15 and again at 19, and did not have a job. Copeland called it a “sob story” and was angry to not only hear the jury and others feel compassion for Mendez Ortega, but that they’d give her such a small sentence for her crime.

Mendez Ortega’s punishment was a day’s pay — a $60 fine. According to the Washington Post, the jury felt terrible for convicting the single mother, and they felt even worse for making her pay that fine, so they did something extraordinary. They took up a collection to pay her fine.

The general sentiment was she was a victim, too,” said jury foreman Jeffery Memmott to The Washington Post. “Two of the women [jurors] were crying because of how bad they felt. One lady pulled out a $20 bill, and just about everybody chipped in.”

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credit: InformationLiberation

The juror then went to her home and gave her the entire collection of $80.

Copeland was not happy to hear about the jury’s giving nature.

“The punishment was she didn’t get paid for the day she stole from us,” Copeland told The Washington Post. “But then she did get paid for it. That’s changed my whole view of it.”

“She made $20 out of it, too,” she added.

So what did Mendez Ortega say when she was informed that the jury wanted to pay her fine?

“I became happy when I heard they wanted to give me that [money],” she said. “Thank you very much to all of them. God bless them.”

H/T: First the jury convicted this 19-year-old maid for stealing. Then they took up a collection to pay her fine.

READ: Latino Man Wins $20,000 Settlement After He Was Wrongfully Detained By ICE

Congress Will Be Confronted With Stories From DACA Recipients Every Day Until The Holiday Break Because Of This Jumbotron

things that matter

Congress Will Be Confronted With Stories From DACA Recipients Every Day Until The Holiday Break Because Of This Jumbotron

@marianalesandra / Twitter

The holiday break for Congress is fast approaching and millions are still waiting on legislators to make a decision on The Dream Act. Many politicians in Congress have threatened to shut down the government by not passing a budget for the coming year if a decision on The Dream Act doesn’t happen. The original deadline for that decision was Dec. 8 but Congress managed to pass a small budget bill to fund the government up to a Dec. 22 deadline. Americans and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients are applying more pressure to Congress to act before the holiday break to save millions of people who would benefit from The Dream Act.

Immigration rights group United We Dream is bringing the fight directly to Congress.

The activist group has set up a video screen they call the DreamActTron, which faces the Capitol building and shares stories of DACA recipients and those who would benefit from The Dream Act.

Anyone can participate in the project by posting a video of themselves telling their story on Instagram or Twitter and using #DreamActNow. The DreamActTron will stay in place for the rest of the session, so legislators will be confronted with the stories 24/7.

House Speaker Paul Ryan and others will be forced to see the faces of the people their choices are impacting.

According to American Progress, more that 12,000 people have lost their DACA status since the Trump administration rescinded the order on Sept. 5. An estimated 122 people will lose their DACA protections every day that Congress doesn’t pass The Dream Act. Losing DACA is more than losing a protected status. People who lose DACA are losing their access to driver’s licenses, work permits, and a chance at an education.

Congress has the time to act but Speaker Ryan has not acknowledged whether or not The Dream Act will come up for a vote in time.

According to a PolitiFact fact check, 76 percent, or two-thirds of the American public, support the passage of The Dream Act. With that much support for the measure, why don’t those in Congress want to do what their constituents want?

Tell us:


READ: Get To Know The Dream Act Of 2017 And How We Got To This Important Bill

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