Sat04132024

Last updateFri, 10 Dec 2021 9pm

Back You are here: Home News

News

Ryan Ferguson Innocent

Ryan Ferguson's conviction has been vacated. Ryan was convicted of murdering Kent Heitholt a sports editor for the Columbia Daily Tribune and was sentenced to serve 40 years in prison. The show "48 Hours Mystery" highlighted Ryan's story to show how difficult the appeal process is. Ryan spent 10 years in prison insisting on his innocence.  

Click here to read and see stories on Ryan Ferguson

Prosecutor Serves Jail Time

A former prosecutor and current judge in Texas will be the first to serve jail time for prosecutorial misconduct. Ken Anderson pled guilty to criminal contempt for intentionally failing to disclose evidence that could have cleared the defendant, Michael Morton in a case that sent Morton to prison for murder instead. Ken Anderson will have to spend 10 days in jail, surrender his law license and perform 500 hours of community service for his misconduct while Michael Morton served 25 years for a crime he did not commit.

Click here to read the story.

Prison Profiteers

An article written by Liliana Segura explains how corporations profit from both the prison system and those incarcerated in it. From telephone companies charging over $1 per minute for phone calls, the refusal to give treatment and/or medication from healthcare companies and the billion dollar profits from corporations that run privatized prisons. You can watch the new video series, a collaboration between Beyond Bars, A Brave New Films project, and the ACLU, called "Prison Profiteers" by visiting the website: thenation.com/prison-profiteers

 

Click here to read the full article.

Paid Per Conviction

Roger Koppl and Meghan Sacks authored a paper written for the journal Criminal Justice Ethics. They looked into how the criminal justice system incentivizes wrongful convictions. One section shows the disturbing way some state crime labs are funded; they are paid a fee only when a test implicates a suspect but are paid nothing if the test clears the suspect.

Read the article in the Huffington Post.

 

 

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

Murder Charges Dropped for Illinois Man After Two Decades Behind Bars

 

By the Innocence Project: 28 Jun 2013 01:05 PM PDT

A Chicago prisoner's 20-year nightmare ended today when Cook County prosecutors dropped murder charges against him, clearing the path for his release. Daniel Taylor was convicted of a 1992 double murder and sentenced to life in prison despite records showing he was in police custody for disorderly conduct at the time the murders took place.

In February, Taylor's attorneys from the Center on Wrongful Conviction filed a petition with the Cook County Circuit Court that confirms there were five current and former police employees who have sworn the records accurately indicate that Taylor was locked up. It also claims that a prosecutor's notes and other documents supporting Taylor's innocence were withheld before trial.

A lengthy interrogation two weeks after the crime resulted in Taylor's false confession. Seven other juveniles also confessed and implicated each other in the murders. Taylor was 17 years old at the time. Among the others was Dennis Mixon, who admitted his involvement in a Chicago Tribune investigation in 2001. Mixon told reporters that he was involved but that the others were not. An accomplice, currently incarcerated for another murder, was also named.

Of the eight men, two had their charges dismissed before trial, one was acquitted and five were convicted. Two of the convicted men were released after serving their sentences, which leaves Mixon, Taylor and Deon Patrick, who is still fighting to overturn his conviction from prison. A review by State's Attorney Anita Alvarez's Conviction Integrity Unit finally persuaded Alvarez that Taylor's conviction should be set aside, reports the Tribune.

The case illustrates an emerging pattern in Cook County's wrongful convictions of the early 90s, which is also evident in the "Englewood Four" and "Dixmoor Five" cases. In both cases, false confessions were elicited from young men of color resulting in multiple wrongful convictions. Years later, DNA testing proved the nine men innocent and revealed that only one perpetrator had committed each crime.

Read the full article.

Learn more about false confessions.

 

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

Previous ◁ | ▷ Next

An Exoneree Experiences Exonerating a Wrongfully Imprisoned Man

Posted: 26 Jun 2013 10:30 AM PDT
By Jeffrey Deskovic for the Innocence Project

When William Lopez emerged from the courtroom on Jan 23, 2013, after having been wrongfully imprisoned for 23 ½ years, it was the realization of a dream I had when I started The Jeffrey Deskovic Foundation For Justice. The Innocence Project assisted with my own DNA exoneration in 2006. Since then, I have heard many Innocence Project personnel say that their clients are inspirational and a "walking reminder" of why they do the work that they do. Being on that side of the equation in the William Lopez case was a humbling experience and something that I will never forget. 

When the Judge told William that he was free to leave the courtroom, I could see the look of shock and disorientation on his face though this moment was what he had been working toward for many years, not dissimilar to what I experienced over six years ago. 

Though this was William's moment, I was not an unaffected observer. As he walked from the defense table towards the door, I felt the surreality of the moment, having, through my Foundation, played a role in winning his freedom. After he embraced family members, he embraced me as well, and instinctively I resolved to remain next to him. When we encountered the media moments later, I, too, froze. It was my first time playing the role of spokesperson for an organization that had assisted in winning a man's freedom. 

It was breathtaking to host and celebrate his first meal immediately following his release: chicken parmesan and shrimp cocktail, along with a glass of wine. William and I were on cloud nine being able to talk to each other in the free world in contrast to his prison phone calls. After an hour and half, I had the presence of mind to suggest to William that we go shopping so that he could remove the prison clothes that he had been released in. I took him to Macy's, and as he put on the new clothes, I observed a transformation on his face. I marveled at how far God had enabled me to come from the days of my own struggling upon release. 

The case against William, was, as Judge Gaurafis wrote in his opinion granting a writ of Habeas Corpus, "rotten from day one." William Lopez had been wrongfully convicted of a shotgun murder in Brooklyn. One of the two witnesses who testified against him could not make an in-court identification, causing the trial judge to say that the witness could not have seen what she claimed to see from where she claimed to see it. The second "eyewitness" was a crack addict who had been awake for 24 hours having used 12 vials of crack. She falsely claimed, and the prosecutor certified, that a previous offer of benefit in exchange for her testimony had been withdrawn, when in fact it had not. After Lopez's conviction, but before his sentencing, an inmate in the county jail had sent an affidavit stating that this witness admitted to her that she was giving false testimony in exchange for favored treatment. Two weeks after testifying, she was released from jail. 

As in many cases of wrongful conviction, Lopez's trial attorney was not very diligent, never even interviewing his client's two alibi witnesses, much less calling them as witnesses. When William's brother reached out to the Foundation, his case leapt off the pages to us. Shortly after that, William himself was in touch with us, and eventually the Foundation spoke to his attorneys of ten years Richard Levitt and Yvonne Shiver, who indicated that we could render investigative assistance. The Foundation's investigation turned up additional evidence of innocence and helped to secure his eventual release.

The Jeffrey Deskovic Foundation for Justice is a not-for-profit organization founded in 2012, whose mission is to raise public awareness; seek legislative reforms; exonerate the wrongfully convicted, both in DNA and Non-DNA cases; and to assist the wrongfully imprisoned with reintegration. In the upcoming year, the Foundation will continue to network in a search to add board members as well as a spokesperson in order to assist us in building a donor base. 

Our goal is to make the organization sustainable beyond the three years that I have guaranteed through my own commitment of $1.5 million and to grow it so that we can add additional investigators and attorneys, increasing our case capacity and hiring support staff. We will build our "mobile community" through an exciting technology through which people can text the word "Innocent" to 50555 to make a $10 donation as well as opt into monthly text message updates on upcoming speaking engagements, TV and radio interviews, and other exciting advocacy work we are engaged in. Program wise, we look forward to encouraging other colleges to offer the wrongful conviction course, which we designed in collaboration with Fairleigh Dickinson University. We also anticipate filing other actual innocence claims, working on wrongful conviction prevention legislation, distributing our Juror Manual, and continuing to raise awareness.

Read the full story here.

For more about Jeffrey Deskovic.

Read Jeffrey Deskovic's case profile.