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Video Clears Men Falsely Accused Of Rape

A cellphone video taken during a night of sex between two men and a woman saved the men from a prison term. The woman accused both men of rape and without the video police and prosecutors would have believed her story.

Click here to read the full article in The Sacramento Bee.

http://www.sacbee.com/2013/07/09/5553262/sex-video-clears-men-accused-of.html

Is This Terrorism?

18-year old Justin Carter has been charged with making terrorist threats and spent 4 months in jail for posting a sarcastic comment on Facebook. He sat in jail for a month before even being questioned by authorities and remains there on a $500,000 bond. The authorities want Justin to agree to an 8-year sentence, which he refuses to do. He says he is sorry for what he said but he was just joking.

 

Click here to read more.

The 712th Mile for the California 12

Thursday, June 20 - Very few people in this world would ever consider walking 20 miles. How about 712 excruciating miles? That is exactly what three attorneys (Justin, Mike and Alissa) with the San Diego Innocence Project did. They walked all the way from San Diego to Sacramento - up the coast, along railroad tracks, over mountains, through fields and valleys and occasionally jumping over barriers in what was dubbed The Innocence March. Each attorney carried around their neck the electronic clemency petitions and supporting documents for 4 clients; totaling 12 innocent people who were wrongfully convicted and are still in prison. Walking the last mile with at least 100 supporters, they reached the capital about noon; shortly before a scheduled meeting with Governor Brown in which they presented their clemency requests for the California 12.

Who are the California 12? What compelled Justin, Mike and Alissa, attorneys with the San Diego Innocence Project, to give up two months of their lives and walk 712 miles? To read the stories of the innocent people fighting for their freedom please click the names below. Their stories are truly tragic and the facts in support of their innocence compelling.

William Richards, Alan Gimenez, Michael Hanline, Suzanne Johnson, Kimberly Long, Dolores Macias, Rodney Patrick McNeal, Guy Miles, Quintin Morris, Kiera Newsome, Joann Parks, Ed Contreras.

Help the CA 12 win their freedom sign a petition requesting that Governor Brown grant them clemency.

To view photos of the 712 mile march click here.

Visit their Facebook page.

Slideshow: Innocence March for California 12

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Jail Time For Chalk Writing

A  trial in San Diego, California has Jeff Olsen facing 13 counts of vandalism that together can potentially mean a 13-year jail sentence and fines of up to $13,000.

Olsen is accused of scrawling anti-big bank messages in water-soluable chalk in front of Bank of America branches. The judge decided to prohibit Olson's attorney from "mentioning the First Amendment, free speech, free expression, public forum, expressive conduct, or political speech during the trial."

Click here to read more.

America's Prisons vs. Iran's Prisons

Shane Bauer was one of three hikers apprehended near the border of Iraq and Iran. He spent 26 months in an Iranian prison, 4 of those months were in solitary confinement.  He wrote an investigative article on solitary confinement comparing his experience in Iran with how prisoners here in the U.S. are treated. Shaun won the 2013 Hillman Prize for Magazine Journalism for his article.

Click here to read Shane Bauer's article.

The Absurdity of Sequestration Cuts

Sequestration is supposed to save the country money by making across the board cuts in every department. We have to wonder about the logic of it all when sequestration cuts for public defender will actually cost the taxpayer more money. The Supreme Court ruled in Gideon v. Wainwright that poor people facing criminal charges have the right to a lawyer if they can't afford one on their own. So when public defenders are let go due to budget cuts, taxpayers will have to foot the bill for a private lawyer.

Click here to read the story or listen to the audio.

Half of all Inmates Have Mental Illness

A 2006 study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that the number of inmates with mental health issues has risen four times since 1998. The lack of mental health services is a main contributor to the problem. With the right treatment many of these people would never have been in jail in the first place.

Click here to read the story.

Mental Illness and Prisons

A 2006 study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that the number of inmates with mental health issues has risen four times since 1998. The lack of mental health services is a main contributor to the problem. With the right treatment many of these people would never have been in jail in the first place.

Click here to read the story.

Prosecutorial Overreach

It was very heartbreaking to read about Aaron Swartz's suicide at the age of 26. Aaron codeveloped RSS feeds and the website Reddit. As I read about the case the prosecutors made up against him, I was outraged to see yet again a non-crime turn into manufactured felonies with possibly 30 years behind bars. 

Click here to read the story.

30 Year Wait For Retrial

Jerry Hartfield has been sitting behind bars in a Texan prison for the last 30 years even though his conviction was overturned. His case is being debated between the federal government and the state of Texas. The state of Texas claims Hartfield had one year to appeal his life sentence beginning in 1983 when a retrial was ordered. U.S. District Judge Lynne Hughes says the clock on an appeal doesn't start until there's a conviction, and none exists in this case. 

 

Click here to read the story in the Huffington Post.

California Leads In Wrongful Convictions

The California Wrongful Convictions Project, launched by the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law (Berkeley Law) and Hollway Advisory Services, a criminal justice research firm, announced findings in preliminary data that show California has thrown out more than 200 wrongful convictions since 1989, more than any other state. The cost is calculated at $129 million, however, this total only includes the cost to the state and does not include the cost paid by the wrongfully convicted and their families to repeatedly defend themselves against the state. These innocent individuals have collectively spent 1,313 years behind bars for crimes they did not commit. Some of these wrongful convictions were determined to be inadvertent mistakes but horrifyingly others were deliberate misconduct.

Click here to read more.

When Jurors Are Wrong

What happens with jurors when they wrongfully convict an innocent person? In this heartbreaking story from NPR two jurors talk about their thoughts and feelings about convicting an innocent 20 year old man.

Click here to read or listen the full story on NPR.

The 3 Strikes Debacle

Californians have a chance to correct a mistake made back in 1994 when their 3 strikes law was passed. 72% of voters passed a law that seemed like a way to keep people safe from violent, habitual offenders. The "3 strikes and your out" law was supposed to be used if a person convicted of a felony had also committed two or more violent or serious crimes. They would be sentenced to life in prison with no parol until they have served many years of their sentence, usually about 25 years. Unfortunately, reality has become very different, as shown when a man was given 25 years for stealing a tool kit from WalMart.

Click here to read more and to view an interview with a judge.

Torturing Our Children

What defines child abuse is a question we need to be asking. A 16 year old girl being held in solitary confinement for 22 hours a day for several months definitely fits the description. It should not only be considered abuse but outright torture. A report by the Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties shows the widespread use of solitary confinement on children in US prisons.

Click here to read the full story.

If you would like to help change youth sentencing laws click here

The Costs Of Incarcerating The Elderly

According to a recent Human Rights Watch report, state and federal prisons housed more than 26,000 inmates 65 and older. The number of inmates 55 and over is nearly 130,000. The director of the ACLU's National Prison Project, David Fathi states "The mass incarceration of the elderly is an example of our criminal justice system at its most heartless and its most irrational. Most such prisoners are long past their crime-prone years and pose little to no public safety risk." An example sited from New York tracked 469 inmates who were originally sentenced for violent crimes and were later released as senior citizens; over a 13-year period, just 8 of those former inmates went back to prison, and only one went back for a violent offense.

Click here to read the story in Mother Jones.

Privacy vs Fair Trial

A juror hearing a case in Sacramento regarding gang beatings posted remarks on his Facebook page. The judge initially asked to see the juror's postings on Facebook to see if there was any bias on the part of the juror, but changed his order to include the responses from the juror's friends after Facebook provided their responses to the judge as well. At issue is whether the juror's friends responses should be included in the review since they were not part of the initial judicial request.

Click here to read the Sacramento Bee article.

GAO Report on Overcrowded Prisons

The Bureau of Prisons is 39% over capacity making prisoners confined to smaller spaces. Up to three inmates are housed in rooms meant to house one prisoner. Sometimes inmates need to be housed in common areas that were not meant to be used as prison cells. Inmates also get to spend less time in areas like the cafeteria, recreation yards and television rooms. As the president of the Council of Prison Locals Dale Deshotel said, "Once they get frustrated enough, we're looking at another riot. And that's what scares me.'

Click here to read the full article.

Cop with Disciplinary Issues Kills Teen

Police officer, Josh Hastings, fatally shot 15 year old Bobby Moore Jr. while responding to a suspicious persons call on Aug. 12. The 26 year old Officer Hastings has a history of disciplinary issues with his department having been suspended six times in the past five years. He was booked into jail, but later released on $15,000 bond. He faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Click here for the full story.

States Spending More on Corrections Than on Universities

The state of Wisconsin is now spending more of the states budget on the Department of Corrections than on higher education. The upward trend in spending for corrections has been increasing for the last few decades and according to studies it is not the result of just one political party. The change in sentencing laws and the "tough on crime" campaigning by politicians of both parties have helped increase the need to build more prisons. Each prison built adds additional costs to the state. Unfortunately, the trend of spending more on the Department of Corrections than on state universities has become a national trend. 

Click here to read the article in the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel

Multiple Police in Saginaw Kill Man

Multiple police officers in Saginaw, Michigan shot a man in a parking lot on a busy street. The man, Milton Hall had a disagreement with a store clerk, then dialed 911 and said, "I'm Milton Hall and I'm pissed off." Matthew Frey, the prosecutor for Saginaw says he will review the case if it is ruled a justifiable homicide.

Click here for the full story and video.

Dozens Imprisoned Are Legally Innocent

The state of North Carolina is keeping legally innocent people behind bars despite the fact prosecutors agree they are innocent of the crimes that they are incarcerated for. A USA Today investigation revealed that people were being kept in prison even though a federal appeals court ruled the crimes they committed were not federal crimes. Unfortunately many of these inmates don't realize they are innocent and should be freed. The ACLU estimates up to 3,000 inmates may be eligible to be freed or have reduced sentences.

Click here to read the full article.