Raising Awareness for the Wrongly Convicted and Criminal Justice Reform
The NCCJR is pleased to be a sponsor for this year's Freedom March to raise awareness for the wrongly convicted and criminal justice reform. Last year, the event was observed in 18 different states--all coordinating their efforts, which involved hundreds of people. This year's event promises to be larger. For more information about the event, please visit http://freedommarchusa.org. And come back often to this website for updates. In the meantime, here's a video encouraging participation:
The Associated Press reports that the recent conviction of Douglas County, Nebraska, CSI Director David Kofoed for planting blood evidence might lead to a flood of appeals from those convicted by the now-disgraced criminologist in previous cases. The Nebraska case echoes malfeasance discovered previously in Dallas County, Texas.
Faulty use of forensic science is one of the most common reasons for wrongful convictions, according to the Innocence Project. The case in Nebraska provides one more reason to adopt the National Academy of Science's call for research and oversight of forensic science.
Sheriff Joe drops his RICO lawsuit, but claims victory. What kind of victory is that? Read the details.
Convicted of a robbery he didn't commit, Leroy McGee's life consists of two parts: before prison and after prison.
Before prison, McGee was a young man with a family, four children and big dreams.
After prison, three years and seven months later, McGee was divorced, living with his mother and working three jobs to get by.
On Tuesday, with a few strokes of a pen in Fort Lauderdale, the 42-year-old signed the papers that will deliver compensation from the state for his lost years: $179,000. The amount will be spread out over at least 10 years.
He could have signed the papers six months ago, said his lawyer, David Comras.
Instead, McGee waited to draw attention to what he and several lawyers called flaws in the current laws that could exclude from compensation most people who have been wrongfully convicted.
McGee is the first person to be awarded money through a Florida law that provides compensation to wrongfully imprisoned people.
McGee fears he could also be the last.
One reason, Comras said Tuesday during the signing at the Broward Public Defender's Office, is that anyone with a felony conviction from before or during the wrongful incarceration is excluded from the program.
The law also erects multiple hurdles that, Comras said, would often require the help of a lawyer -- but the compensation doesn't cover legal fees.
``This new act has some very serious flaws that will put its use beyond the reach of most of those it is meant to serve,'' Comras said, ``those who have been wrongfully incarcerated.''
McGee was lucky; Comras waived his fee.
When asked to speak, McGee opened with a hug for Comras and many thank-you's. Then he spoke about his legal nightmare.
It began in 1991, when he was convicted of the armed robbery of a Chevron gas station on Oakland Park Boulevard.
No physical evidence put him at the scene. The time card from his job as a custodian at Fort Lauderdale High School showed that he was at work.
But a gas station clerk picked McGee out of a lineup. McGee's defense lawyer at the time brought the wrong time card to court.
McGee remembers his inmate number: 693183. It's what the guards would call out, he says, and he heard it every day.
He fought to clear his name, starting while in prison. A special attorney, Michael Wrubel, was appointed to review his case.
A bill with major bipartisan backing that supporters call a significant step forward for criminal justice in Ohio remains stuck in the Statehouse political machinery, seven months after passing the Senate.
More than three weeks ago, a House committee voted 8-2 to send Senate Bill 77 to the full chamber. But the GOP-backed measure has sat idle waiting for Democratic House leaders to schedule a full vote.
"Hopefully, there are no games being played and they'll put a good, bipartisan bill on the floor and get it out," said Sen. David Goodman, R-New Albany, sponsor of the bill to expand DNA testing and set new standards for witness lineups.
"There is absolutely no reason for it not to go to the floor. This is a great opportunity for the House to show strong bipartisanship and support for good public policy. I'm not running for anything. No one has to worry whether I get any" credit.
No groups are opposing the bill, at least publicly, and it passed the Senate 32-1 in June. But since the start of 2009, broad support has not regularly translated into a smooth road to passage in the Statehouse.
Politically divided for the first time in 14 years, the Democrat-controlled House and Republican-controlled Senate have moved few bills into law during the past 13 months.
The chambers have sat on each other's bills, or instead passed their own versions of legislation, gumming up the process or forcing the two to engage in horse-trading before final passage. Goodman's bill is among those caught in the gears.
Speaker Armond Budish, D-Beachwood, has not said definitively when, or if, the Senate bill would get a vote.
"It hasn't been discussed yet in caucus," he said. "We've had other things we've been working on. In the normal course, it will come up for discussion, and we'll see."
Later, Budish spokesman Keary McCarthy said the bill is important, but also suggested that although Goodman's bill has already been amended and passed by the Senate and a House committee, a similar bill by Rep. W. Carlton Weddington, D-Columbus, could move forward instead.
"We would like to see one of these measures passed out of the House in the coming weeks," McCarthy said.
The delay has frustrated supporters, including Mark Godsey, director of the Ohio Innocence Project.
"All parties, including prosecutors, police, Democrats and Republicans, worked for years to create a consensus bill. It's a shame it's being delayed at this point," Godsey said, noting that the bill would help prevent convictions of innocent people.
The bill has four major components: requiring DNA samples from anyone charged with a felony; opening DNA testing to parolees; requiring law-enforcement agencies to retain biological evidence for up to 30 years in murder and sexual-assault cases; and requiring "blind" lineups for suspects, in which the officer either does not know the identity of the true suspect or which suspect photo the witness is viewing.
Senate President Bill M. Harris, R-Ashland, said the bill will be among those discussed by a "working group" that he and Budish soon will develop to try to break the logjam on bills stuck in both chambers.
"Without good communication about what is holding it up, usually I'm saying we need this bill passed, and the speaker is saying we need that bill passed," Harris said. "We need to have some discussion, and that is what the work group will do."
Gov. Ted Strickland has publicly supported the bill several times.
The bill's limbo status is unpopular with the men who have been wrongfully convicted in Ohio. Robert McClendon, who was freed in 2008 after serving 18 years in prison for a rape he didn't commit, said he and others who have been exonerated have been frustrated that it has taken lawmakers nearly two years to bring the bill to this point.
"This should be about justice, not politics, and those in power should remember that," McClendon said. "Your life is taken from you when you are locked up for things you didn't do. This bill will help prevent that from happening to others."
Working for a fair and effective criminal justice system by promoting reforms in sentencing law and practice and alternatives to incarceration.
This Sunday, THE WRONGED MAN, starring Julia Ormond, is having it's world television premiere at 8:00 PM ET/ 5:00 PM PT on Lifetime Movie Network.
Synopsis: Janet Gregory (Ormond), a single mother with a haunting past, is a paralegal struggling to overcome doubts about Calvin Willis (Ali), an African-American husband and father wrongfully accused of raping a neighborhood girl. Eventually convinced of his innocence, Janet takes Calvin’s pro bono case and wages a dramatic and stormy 22-year battle with the justice system that ultimately redeems an unjustly accused man and cements a life-long friendship.
The film is the real life story of Calvin Willis who was wrongfully accused of raping a young girl. Calvin served more than 20 years behind bars, then was set free after a DNA test proved he did not commit the crime.
Here's a preview of the film:
For more about the film, visit Lifetime Movie Network's website.
On December 18, 2009, James Bain was released from a Florida prison, where he had spent 35 years for a crime he didn't commit. A court-mandated DNA test proved Bain was wrongly convicted of sexual assault in 1974. Here's a PBS interview with Mr. Bain with commentary by Innocence Project founder Barry Scheck.
How many others are falsely imprisoned? As Barry Scheck points out, we know the causes. Although many states are now making allowances for DNA results to bring a reconsideration, many other changes are needed to ensure the innocent go free rather than the guilty.
Warning: this video contains graphic content.
From John Terzano of the Justice Project, and posted at http://seminal.firedoglake.com/diary/15949:
All too often, prosecutors’ offices fall prey to a culture of conviction-seeking at all costs. Prosecutors who become singularly focused on conviction rates often neglect their ethical duty to protect the innocent and guard the rights of the accused. The Kern County District Attorney’s Office in California provides a clear example of this pitfall, boasting that under District Attorney Ed Jagels’ supervision, the office “has had the highest per capita prison commitment rate of any major California County.” What the office fails to highlight is the startling twenty five wrongful convictions that the office has accrued during Jagels tenure as District Attorney. Jagels recently announced his retirement, and despite his appalling record, he hopes to personally select his successor.
For more information on this event visit the Grey-Haired Witnesses for Justice website.
Numerous activists, attorneys, and scientific organizations are pushing Congress to establish a federal body responsible for the regulation of forensic sciences. Show your support by signing the petition at Change.org
Help Thousand Kites organize the 10th annual Calls from Home radio program for prisoners and their families. Get involved with using the power of radio to connect families and to speak to those behind bars of our nation's prisons. Call us toll-free at 877-518-0606 (sing a song, read a poem, and speak from the heart to those incarcerated.)
Please read Johnnie's words and take action by signing his petition.
I was imprisoned for 30 years--which is approximately 11 thousand days--in Illinois for a crime I did not commit. Illinois has refused to test evidence in my case for DNA that could not only establish my innocence, but also point to the real murderer.
We have assembled a petition with a goal of collecting 11,000 signatures, one signature for every day I was wrongfully incarcerated. After we collect these signatures, we will take this petition to Illinois Governor Patrick Quinn and request that he order DNA testing in my case, which will be paid for by the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law.
Johnnie's been seeking DNA testing for long time, but the State of Illinois keeps ignoring tests that will not only exonerate him, but likely reveal the actual perpetrator of a double-murder. Watch the video below to learn a few details about Johnnie's case. Note that since the video was made, Illinois now has a new Governor, Patrick Quinn. He's the person who now has the responsibility to take up what the former discredited Illinois governor failed to do.
Sign Johnnie's petition now.
"CBS 5 News" Source: Arpaio being investigated by the FBI. If you are a victim of Sheriff Arpaio's harassment or abuse from any of his deputies call the FBI at 602 279-5511. Subscribe to here for more information on Arpaio.
Here's a revealing story about how authorities can elevate a simple dispute into a life-altering tragedy.
That the young woman, Heather Ellis, is black suggests a racist motivation. The Daily Censored has reported:
Today Dunklin County is 89% white and 9% black. Sticking with Missouri’s history of never repealing its laws banning marriages between white folks and Asians or blacks, 88% of Dunklin County’s voters recently voted for new marriage restrictions, this time aimed at gays.
Despite our hopes to the contrary, it appears that criminal prosecution continues to be a tool for social subjugation.
You can tell prosecuting attorney Steve Sokoloff what you think by faxing him at (573) 888-6677.
We learned recently in the New Yorker about the tragic case of Cameron Todd Willingham--executed by Texas as a result of bogus forensic testimony at his trial. Do your part to honor his sacrifice by signing the petition at http://www.just-science.org/ to create a federal agency to ensure that forensic evidence is based on solid science.
If you like to make videos, here's a good use for your talents: http://www.ncadp.org/index.cfm?content=97. The idea is simple. Let Justice Scalia know that an innocent man was executed. He recently said there has never been a single case in which an individual was wrongfully convicted and executed. If there was, he said, "the innocent's name would be shouted from the rooftops." Here's your chance to shout!
Please sign this petition to encourage Michael Moore to raise awareness for criminal justice reform. An NCCJR supporter will hand deliver the petition with signatures to Michael Moore. Here's the petition:
We know the Criminal Justice system is unjust. We know thousands of innocent people are in prison. We know there are unspeakable abuses that happen behind the walls of courtrooms and jails. We realize that some people are profiting off of the amount of bodies they hold, not necessarily the services they provide. We are jointly asking MR Michael Moore to hear our pleas to document these injustices and make them public.
We the undersigned have witnessed injustice in our system that directly affects our loved ones. We used to believe that one was innocent until proven guilty that is, until we found ourselves victimized by the reality of the our situations.
We realize now that corporations are profiting from those repeated and constant abuses within the criminal justice system and certain individuals are gaining status from our loved ones suffering. We are asking you to use your talents in raising public awareness on the most serious and growing issue of wrongful convictions. Please film this injustice and make it public.
Sign this petition at http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/ask-michael-moore-to-document-the-injustice-system.
The Action Committee for Women in Prison is working with Senator Webb's office for National Criminal Justice Reform as consultants. They are also trying to get our partner Gloria Killian appointed to the committee, please sign a petition urging her appointment. Together we will make a difference!
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Women Behind the Wall is the only show in the country that is by, for and about incarcerated women.
Your cohosts are 2 women who share the mutually horrifying experience of being sent to prison for crimes that they did not commit.
Mary Ellen served 5 years in Florida State prisons and Gloria Killian spent 17 1/2 years in a California prison.
Women Behind the Wall brings you the real truth about women in prison, who they are, why they are there, what should be done about them,
and why many of them deserve their freedom. The costs, the conflicts, the politics and the payers will all be covered in this unique program.
Listen to the latest show when it is broadcast from the United States. The local time for the show in your area is
Currently Bill HR3327 is in the house; its purpose is to amend title 18, United States Code, to prevent unjust and irrational criminal punishments due to Manditory Minimum Sentences. We would like to encourage you to write to your legislators to approve this bill and ask others to do the same. You can do this by filling out a petition at the following site: http://www.change.org/actions/view/sign_ramos-compean_justice_act_of_2009_hr_3327 . This proposed legislation is supported by the American Bar Association who wrote the following letter of support to the Chairman of the House Judicial Committee: www.abanet.org/poladv/.../2009jul28_mandatoryminimumh_l.pdf. Please distribute this petition site to as many of your friends as possible.
Our mission is to advocate for the humane and compassionate treatment of all incarcerated women everywhere. We work for the release of all women who are unjustly imprisoned, and strive to reduce the over reliance on incarceration
America's Wrongfully Convicted's goal is to expose the compelling evidence that has been intentionally suppressed, resulting in malicious prosecution. This allows the real perpetrators to escape justice and continue their criminal activities, adding victims to their list, often with more brazen and violent behavior. Hall of Honor, Hall of Shame, Resources & Assistance, State & Governmental Links, Stories of Wrongful Convictions and much more available.
An aggregator web site that provides latest feeds on video, news, blogs, and books that deal with capital punishment.
A constituency for the Innocent, CWC is a valuable source of information with a data of 1253 cases of wrongful conviction/exoneration in USA.
Seeking Freedom for the Imprisoned Innocent, the primary mission of Centurion Ministries is to vindicate and free from prison those who are completely innocent of the crimes for which they have been unjustly convicted and imprisoned for life or death.
Working for alternatives to the death penalty, the link provides: Facts on the Death Row Population, Profiles of Exonerees, Victims, Law Enforcement, 10 reasons to oppose the Death Penalty and much more...
DPIC is a non-profit organization serving the media and the public with analysis and information on issues concerning capital punishment. The Center was founded in 1990 and prepares in-depth reports, issues press releases, conducts briefing for journalists, and serves as a resource to those working on the issue. The Center is widely quoted and consulted by all those concerned with the death peanlty.
Providing funding, training and assistance to ensure that forensic DNA reaches its full potential to solve crimes, protect the innocent and identify missing persons.
FedUp! is the Pittsburgh chapter of the Human Rights Coalition dedicated to upholding the rights of prisoners through providing resources and support, exposing injustices, and building relationships with people in prison and their advocates. We are a organization of concerned citizens, people in prison and their loved ones. Our focus is on high level security facilities in Pennsylvania.
The mission of Innocence Matters is to identify the innocent and help secure their freedom. Moreover, we seek to dispel the absurd myth that cases like Troy Davis'' are flukes - i.e., rare, but unavoidable errors inherent in any human endeavor! Wrongful convictions occur as a result of a variety of systemic inadequacies including underfunded indigent criminal defense systems and prosecution zeal to fight for, and then defend, the conviction without careful examination of the integrity of their case. Convicting the innocent is preventable.
One of our purposes is to respond to every request for assistance. We may not be able to actually provide that assistance, but we will do our level best to find help for any inmate, any inmates family member, or any acquaintance of an inmate, and do it promptly!
Jeffrey Deskovic served 16 years in prison for a murder and rape that took place in NY. All 16 years, he fought to prove my innocence. At the innocent age of 16, he was arrested based upon a coerced false confession obtained from a 7 1/2 hours police interrogation. He was convicted DESPITE DNA evidence which showed that semen found inside of the victim did not match him. In addition, hair found on the victim did not match him. He was sentenced to 15 years to life, notwithstanding the judge commenting, "Maybe you are innocent."
Justice Denied magazine publicizes cases of wrongful conviction, and exposes how and why they occur. Produced by volunteer writers, editors and others persons located throughout the United States and other countries, you can submit a story of wrongful conviction using a provided submission guidelines. Other resources available.
On a Sunday afternoon in the fall of 2007 our son was falsely accused of a crime that never happened. Due to the seriousness of the allegations, we immediately sought legal counsel and went through the “justice” system.
Read our story at www.justiceformike.net
We lock jaws on injustice and shake until the truth prevails!
Wrongful Convictions and Innocence Resources
Founded in 1976 in response to the Supreme Court decision in Gregg v. Georgia which permitted executions to resume in the United States. NCADP serves its network of over 100 state and national affiliates, providing them with technical assistance, training and strategic advice and assists in devising public policy campaigns to end, limit or repeal the death penalty, state by state.
NDRAN of CURE is an organization helping death row prisoners to gain access to legal, investigative and community support.
The Prison Reform Community Center is a web-based advocacy organization that provides a place for grassroots organizations, activists, inmates, families and volunteers to come together to lend strength to the voices calling for change in our prison systems around the world.
T.I.M.E.© ~ Treating Inmates Morally & Ethically. Created by a convict (The Unforgiven) and his wife. Join them in their quest for justice within the prison systems across the US. Many groups with different information including one for The Freedom March for the Wrongfully Convicted.
The Exoneration Initiative (EXI) is a pioneering organization that provides free legal assistance to wrongfully convicted persons. EXI primarily focuses on the most challenging cases, those that lack DNA evidence. Its mission is simple: To exonerate the actually innocent.
From the Cardozo Law School, founded by Barry Scheck and Peter Newfeld. Browse the stories about over 230 exonerees. Read about the causes of wrongful convictions.
The Justice Project is working to increase fairness and accuracy in the criminal justice system. TJP develops, coordinates, and implements integrated national and state-based campaigns involving public education, litigation and legislation to reform the criminal justice system, with particular focus on capital punishment.
Working for a fair and effective criminal justice system by promoting reforms in sentencing law and practice and alternatives to incarceration
An innocent man facing execution in GA, despite recantation of 7/ 9 witnesses, no physical evidence and no murder weapon found. Troy Davis has been on death row since 1993 with a record of 4 scheduled execution dates. With another man implicated ... no court willing to hear the evidence.
Larry Vanderberg was falsely accused, wrongfully convicted, and has been sentenced to life in prison for supposed crimes he did not commit.
Truth in Justice primary goal is to heighten public awareness of the epidemic of wrongful convictions. TIJ has over 1,600 pages of information and resources.
Much to be explored in the Witness Justice site, it is a MUST to understand and use appropriated legal terms . Go to their tab "Justice system " then click on Criminal Justice Terminology Guide.
" It''s difficult to describe what it is like to serve time on death row knowing you are innocent. All you know is that what seems like an awful nightmare is now reality, reality beyond comprehension." -Ray Krone, released April 8, 2002
An aggregator website with the latest feeds on videos, news, blogs, and books relating to wrongful convictions.