Live Free Merced

Live Free Merced



The LIVE FREE Campaign is a faith-based movement to organize local communities across the country to reduce gun violence, end mass incarceration. and counter practices that target communities of color.

The Movement to End Gun Violence and Mass Incarceration

We share in the outrage growing from every corner of our nation that we have abandoned our young people to the clutches of violence fueled by greed, fear and despair. We bear witness to the deep pain of our nation’s people, whose loved ones are dying needlessly in our communities across the land, and that faith commands we speak out about the sanctity of all life and affirm that all have the right to live in peace and safety.

There have been over 12 thousand gun deaths since the Newtown shooting in December of 2013:

  • African-Americans are six times as likely as white Americans to die at the hands of a murderer, and roughly seven times as likely to murder someone. Young black men are fifteen times as likely to be murdered as young white men.
  • In the first seven years of the U.S.-Iraq War, over 4,400 American soldiers were killed. Almost as many civilians are killed with guns in the U.S., however, every seven weeks.
  • Guns were used in 11,078 homicides in the U.S. in 2010, comprising almost 35% of all gun deaths, and over 68% of all homicides.


People of faith everywhere are commanded by to work tirelessly and in coalition with one another across racial lines, class and place lines, age and gender lines to vigorously confront:

  • The proliferation and increasing lethality of guns in our neighborhoods and cities, towns and streets, malls and schools.
  • The public policies that prevent formerly incarcerated people from returning to full citizenship across the country.

We seek to counter the dominant narrative that black and brown bodies are expendable, by engaging race and faith and continuing to lift of the stories of those closest to the pain.

Mass Incarceration is the New Jim Crow:

  • In the U.S., 2.2 million people are currently in prison or jail—a 500% increase over 30 years.
  • Roughly 70% of imprisoned men and women in the U.S. are persons of color.
  • Although Black Americans make up only 12.7% of the U.S. population, they comprise 48.2% of adults in federal, state, or local prisons and jails.

The New Jim Crow | Michelle Alexander

Michelle Alexander’s groundbreaking book outlines how the country’s current system of mass incarceration systematically strips African Americans of most of the essential rights gained during the Civil Rights movement.


The Merced Campaign:

Through a sustained effort, we will build partnerships that extend from the church to the precinct. By implementing anti-violence strategies and engaging in community-led night walks along with launching two youth programs, we have invested in building a base that can turn the public will to save/preserve the lives of those most impacted- low-income people of color. This effort is our Live Free Merced campaign.



Created and led by formerly incarcerated leaders for formerly incarcerated and at-risk youth, our objective is to transform the lives of youth who have been stigmatized by the system and who need extra love and support.

MIJAS – Catered specifically for young women and their needs, the Mijas program aims to empower youth through education, mentorship and leadership development.

HERMANOS – Designed with young men of color in mind, Hermanos strives to introduce positive role models, education, leadership, and civic engagement in the life of this vulnerable population.


Our Mission:

Our mission is to reverse the effects of the school-to-prison pipeline by supporting at-risk and formerly incarcerated youth through programs which include re-entry services, mentorship, and leadership development.

Our Vision:

Our vision is for all marginalized young women and men of color to LIVE FREE without any barriers or systems that oppress them.

The need for MIJAS and HERMANOS:

  • Recidivism among youthful offenders is extremely high.

  • Merced has highest murder rate per capita.

  • Central Valley incarcerates more people than any other area in the world.

  • In past 30 years, 22 prisons have been built, but only 1 university has been established.

For more information about our programs, you can email us at or contact MIJAS Program Manager Claudia Gonzalez at or  (209)872-8405. For information regarding the HERMANOS Program, please contact Jesse Ornelas at or (209)230-6867.


HOW CAN YOU HELP ?????????????


We are now accepting applications for our 2015-2016 program year.  Applications are due at our office on April 13th at 5 pm. Applications are attached below.


If you would like to make a donation to either program, please contact Claudia Gonzalez for more information (contact information is above).