Category Archives: Uncategorized

POST MEEK MILL: REPORTS DISCLOSES COMPANIES PROFITING FROM PRISON

Robert Rihmeek Williams may be free but millions of other young, black and brown men just like him are not—and that’s no coincidence. After a lengthy legal battle and an outpouring of national support, the 30-year-old Philadelphia rapper better known as “Meek Mill” was released from jail on April 24. The hip-hop star was sentenced last November to two to four years behind bars for a series of minor, non-violent probation violations, following his 2008 conviction for drug and weapons charges. One of the violations included performing a motorcycle stunt while shooting a music video in New York in August 2017.

The sentence sparked mass outrage among fans, celebrities, professional athletes, prison reform activists, and the hip-hop community at large. Hundreds of thousands of people protested in Philadelphia, signed online petitions, and stood behind the #FreeMeekMill campaign. They argued that the harsh punishment was unwarranted and rooted in racism. For many, the hip-hop star became a symbol of discrimination within the U.S. criminal justice system, which predominantly impacts men of color.

Following his release last week, Williams vowed to help others trapped in the cycle of recidivism. “I understand that many people of color across the country don’t have that luxury [to fight justice] and I plan to use my platform to shine a light on those issues,” he tweeted.

Williams’ case is not unusual. According to reports, one in three black men can expect to go to prison in their lifetime. After being convicted of a crime, offenders are then often subjected to parole or probation and years of court-ordered supervision. As a result, even a small violation can send them back to prison for a long time. This policy disproportionately affects African American men who compromise one-third of the 4.6 million Americans currently on parole or subject to probation, according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. Overall, 1 in every 15 African American men are incarcerated compared to 1 in every 36 Hispanic men and 1 in every 106 white men. But, not only are these men being stripped of their time and families, corporations are making billions of dollars in exchange for their freedom.

Read about the corporations making a profit on other’s freedom Here

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Greenville man wins settlement after spending 2 years in jail on charge that was dropped

Did Outdated Laws in Louisiana Help Convict an Innocent Man?

Kirk Bloodsworth’s new passion: Championship rings for those who won freedom

What does Kansas owe the wrongfully convicted? Actual compensation

The state of Kansas is poised to take a significant step toward righting a grave injustice, the theft of people’s freedom for crimes they did not commit.

On Friday, legislators worked out a compromise, agreeing to award $65,000 per year for every year an exoneree was wrongfully imprisoned.

Initial payments would be up to $100,000 or 25 percent of what is owed. Subsequent annual payments would be $80,000.

The reason is telling. Several Kansas men were wrongfully imprisoned for so long that legislators felt it would take too many years to fairly compensate them without the higher yearly payouts.

Read more about the compensation here.

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More States Forcing Prosecutors to Hand Over Evidence — Even When It Hurts Their Case

The next frontier in criminal justice reform

The Power of Prosecutors

Innocence March: Recognizing the Wrongfully Convicted

On March 24, 2018, more than five hundred men and women marched through Memphis Tennessee.  Most of them had spent a large part of their lives in prison– a combined 3,501 years among them– for crimes they did not commit.

The march was the closing event for the 2018 Innocence Network conference, a gathering of exonorees and lawyers working on behalf of those wrongfully convicted.  Exonorees came from every state in the country and from countries across the globe. They marched with attorneys and advocates and family. They held signs demanding change in the system that had wronged them.  Demanding accountability. Demanding, at least, public recognition that innocent men and women were being arrested and convicted by agents acting on the public’s behalf.

Just days before the march, the National Registry of Exonerations at the University of Michigan released a review of the 139 people exonerated in 2017.  Of them, well over half were initially convicted as the result of official misconduct, such as officers threatening witnesses, lab analysts falsifying results, or exculpatory information being withheld at trial. This misconduct is statistically more likely to occur in Reading more here

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DNA’s Revolutionary Role in Freeing the Innocent

Biases in forensic experts

 

Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds

Fascinating stuff related to confirmation bias and tunnel vision…

In 1975, researchers at Stanford invited a group of undergraduates to take part in a study about suicide. They were presented with pairs of suicide notes. In each pair, one note had been composed by a random individual, the other by a person who had subsequently taken his own life. The students were then asked to distinguish between the genuine notes and the fake ones.

Some students discovered that they had a genius for the task. Out of twenty-five pairs of notes, they correctly identified the real one twenty-four times. Others discovered that they were hopeless. They identified the real note in only ten instances.

As is often the case with psychological studies, the whole setup was a put-on. Though half the notes were indeed genuine—they’d been obtained from the Los Angeles County coroner’s office—the scores were fictitious. The students who’d been told they were almost always right were, on average, no more discerning than those who had been told they were mostly wrong.

In the second phase of the study, the deception was revealed. Read more here.

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#BlindInjusticeChapter5BlindMemory

A classic by the leading memory expert, Elizabeth Loftus. Best 17 minutes you can spend to learn about human memory problems and how they impact the criminal justice system.

Fake media is coming for our memories

 

New Jersey AG Presses for Reforms in Response to Exonerations of Eric Kelley and Ralph Lee

The recent exonerations of Eric Kelley and Ralph Lee for a 1993 robbery and murder in Paterson, New Jersey have sparked serious concerns from Attorney General Gurbir Grewal who has decided to take over the investigation from Passaic County Prosecutors. The wrongful convictions of both Kelley and Lee, which were overturned based on new DNA evidence pointing to another man who committed a similar crime, have moved Grewal to consider statewide reforms that would improve how the criminal justice system responds to wrongful convictions in the state. He has also called on Supreme Court Chief Justice James Zazzali to independently review how prosecutors managed Kelley and Lee’s case.  The prosecutors defended the convictions of Kelley and Lee rather, yet failed to investigate the man identified by the DNA testing.

“We’re going to supersede the investigation … to ensure public confidence in light of the criticism that has been leveled and the coverage of the matter,” said Attorney General Grewal.

The proposed reforms Grewal has decided to pursue include creating a conviction review unit to examine wrongful conviction claims and help prevent innocent people Read more here

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Can Prosecutors Put the Same Gun in the Hands of More Than One Shooter?

John Thompson vs. American Justice

The Power of Prosecutors

Criminal (In)justice

In the US, there have been almost two thousand wrongful convictions Yet in so many cases, prosecutors, police, judges and even defense attorneys simply refuse to acknowledge these catastrophic mistakes. Our guest – a former prosecutor – explains why we blind ourselves to these injustices. Read more and listen to the podcast here

Former FBI Investigator says convicted killer Jens Soering should be pardoned

Some law enforcement officers stepping up for innocence and pointing to tunnel vision as leading to a wrongful conviction

 

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His Clients Weren’t Complaining. But the Judge Said This Lawyer Worked Too Hard.

Letter: Probation is prison, minus the metal bars

New Trial Upheld for Adnan Syed of ‘Serial’

An appeals panel on Thursday vacated the conviction of Adnan Syed, whose case was chronicled in the first season of the hit podcast “Serial,” and ruled that he should be granted a new trial on all charges.

Mr. Syed was convicted in 2000 of the first-degree murder and kidnapping of his former girlfriend, Hae Min Lee.

In the ruling, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals said he had received ineffective legal counsel at his trial because his original lawyer had failed to call a witness whose testimony, if believed, “would have made it impossible for Syed to have murdered Hae.”

“Accordingly, Syed’s murder conviction must be vacated, and because Syed’s convictions for kidnapping, robbery, and false imprisonment are predicated on his commission of Hae’s murder, these convictions must be vacated as well,” the panel wrote. “The instant case will be remanded for a new trial on all charges against Syed.”

Mr. Syed’s new lawyer, Justin Brown, said both he and Mr. Syed were “thrilled” with the panel’s decision.

At a news conference, he said Mr. Syed “asked me to convey his deep gratitude and thanks from the bottom of his heart to all those who have supported him and believed in him.”

The accounts by the new witness, and other evidence seeming to cast doubt on the conviction, were the focus of “Serial,” which was a wildly successful podcast in 2014 and popularized the format for a general audience.

The 12-episode series featured Sarah Koenig, a former producer with the weekly public radio program “This American Life,” telling the story of the killing, investigation and trial in a conversational narrative with interviews. It was downloaded more than 175 million times and won a Peabody Award.

Mr. Syed’s lawyer, Mr. Brown, said he had been unable to locate the witness, Asia McClain, until the “Serial” team began investigating Mr. Syed’s story. He said the podcast had been “enormously helpful” in pursuing justice for his client continue reading here

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Prosecutorial Misconduct Reaches Epidemic Proportions

Innocence Project Lawyers Support Texas Prosecutor

50 Years Later, Remembering King, and the Battles That Outlived Him

Martin Luther King Jr. remains frozen in time for many Americans. Seared into our consciousness is the man who battled Southern segregation.

We see him standing before hundreds of thousands of followers in the nation’s capital in 1963, proclaiming his dream for racial harmony. We see him marching, arms locked with fellow protesters, through the battleground of Alabama in 1965.

But on the 50th anniversary of his death, it is worth noting how his message and his priorities had evolved by the time he was shot on that balcony at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis in 1968. Dr. King was confronting many challenges that remain with us today.

He was battling racism in the North then, not just in the South. He was pushing the government to address poverty, income inequality, structural racism and segregation in cities like Boston and Chicago. He was also calling for an end to a war that was draining the national treasury of funds needed to finance a progressive domestic agenda.

This may not be the Dr. King that many remember. Yet, his words resonate powerfully – and, perhaps, uncomfortably – today in a country that remains deeply divided on issues of race and class.

“All the issues that he raised toward the end of his life are as contemporary now as they were then,” said Taylor Branch, the Pulitzer-Prize winning historian who has written several books about Dr. King.

It is no surprise that Americans remember the man who focused on demolishing the legal underpinnings of Jim Crow.

Holding on to the memory of the earlier Dr. King allows us to focus on our nation’s progress, not on the deeply entrenched problems that remain.

Continue reading here

Credit Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley for Ru-El Sailor exoneration

CINCINNATI — Today, the only thing that stops Ru-El Sailor from walking free after serving 15 hard years in prison for a murder that he didn’t commit is the fate of a motion to vacate his conviction. That motion was filed by Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley.

If a Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court judge approves O’Malley’s motion, Sailor will join his family, friends, and community in a celebration of justice that we don’t often see in today’s news.

He also will be greeted by Evin King, whom O’Malley exonerated last year. Evin spent nearly 23 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit, but as a free man will welcome Sailor, who was wrongly convicted in the 2002 murder of a Cleveland man, to the family of Ohio’s exonerees.

Sailor is represented by two outstanding advocates, Cleveland attorney Kim Corral and Jennifer Bergeron of the Ohio Innocence Project. Corral and Bergeron worked tirelessly on Sailor’s case.

That work eventually brought them to O’Malley’s Conviction Integrity Unit, led by another committed attorney, Russell Tye.

If the motion to vacate Sailor’s conviction is granted, O’Malley and his Conviction Integrity Unit deserve much credit for his freedom.

It might seem to those unfamiliar with how wrongful conviction cases work that once evidence surfaces of the innocence of someone wrongfully imprisoned, prosecutors just agree to freedom, like we see on television shows or in movies. But unfortunately, too often that is not the case.

For those of us who do innocence work, we see case after case where prosecutors presented with evidence of a wrongful conviction resist that evidence. They dig in and refuse to admit a mistake no matter how great the showing of innocence. This is because prosecutors are human.

Read the full article here

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Hundreds marched in Downtown Memphis demanding criminal justice reform

We’re off! #INConf2018 The largest gathering of wrongly convicted people marching in honor of #MLK50 as we strive to fix our broken criminal justice system.

 

 

When the innocent go to prison, how many guilty go free?

Jennifer Thompson has told her harrowing tale many times. In 1984, a man broke into her apartment and sexually assaulted her at knifepoint. She picked Ronald Cotton out of a police lineup, and he was sent to prison. But a decade later he was proven innocent and released. The two met and eventually co-authored a book, “Picking Cotton.” They toured the country, advocating for laws that might prevent such tragedies. The real perpetrator, Bobby Poole, was identified through DNA, and died in prison in 1998.

Jennifer Thompson has spoken about how wrongful convictions contribute to crime by allowing the guilty to go free.

But here’s the lesser-known epilogue: After the book was released, Thompson was contacted by a woman named LuAnn Mullis. Mullis had also been sexually assaulted by Bobby Poole, months after Cotton was wrongfully arrested. In fact, Poole had been accused of more than 20 crimes after the police arrested the wrong man. “If they had done it right then, what happened to me would not have occurred,” Mullis told Thompson.

Thompson spoke in her public appearances about how wrongful convictions contribute to crime by allowing the guilty to go free. But there were no numbers.

It just so happened that Thompson married a political scientist named Frank Baumgartner, who for years has studied data on wrongful convictions. Together, they began discussing how to show the public that preventing wrongful convictions is not just a way of stopping individual injustices: it’s a way of fighting crime continue reading here

 

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‘Testilying’ by Police: A Stubborn Problem

Why the Prevalence of Lying by Police is a Problem for the Innocent

Texas Cop Who Killed A Black Man In Front Of His Children Indicted For Lying             (The cop still has his job.)