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Primary Sources: Letter from Orson Welles to California Parole Board

March 1, 1944

Parole Board
San Quentin
California

Gentlemen:

After a very careful examination if the records and facts of the trial, I am convinced that the boys in the Sleepy Lagoon case were not given a fair trial, and that their conviction could only have been influenced by anti-Mexican prejudice. I am convinced, also, that the causes leading up to this case, as well as its outcome are of great importance to the Mexican minority in this community. That is to say, the case has importance aside from the boys incriminated -- the whole community is undermined. Any attempt at good relations is impaired -- as is the importance of unity in the furtherance of the war effort. To allow an injustice like this to stand is to impede the progress of unity.

I have heard of the splendid record the boys have made in San Quentin -- each having made a fine showing for himself in behavior, cooperation , etc.

Because this case is a very special one for the above reasons, I am of the opinion that it merits special attention on the part of the Board Members. Many people in the film colony have expressed great interest in it, and I feel I am speaking for them, too, in making this plea.

Sincerely,

Orson Welles



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