In a country of two million-plus jailed individuals, one might think that the least the state could do when they get the wrong guy or gal is to is to pay through the nose, or do anything to help that state-sanctioned kidnap victim try to get their life back.
But whoops, says USA Today, turns out if you were innocent all along, that may not mean much. Indeed, even if you were jailed for a federal crime that turned out to not have been proper, well, good luck with that. Back in June, Reason's Scott Shackford related USA Today's investigation into the fact that 60 individuals in North Carolina were put into prison for being felons in possession of firearms, even though, that was not a federal crime. The details of the wonky law's federal versus state clashes can be found at the above links...
The point at the moment is that with some of these folks (17 so far, with 12 more with their convictions overturned) finally being released, well, turns out there are fewer options than you might hope for them getting their feet back on thr ground.
Most of them have received little more than a bus ticket. Federal law does not require the government to help them search for jobs or find basic necessities such as clothing and a place to live, assistance the guilty routinely receive during their post-prison supervision, partly to keep them from returning to crime.
...The U.S. Justice Department had originally argued that they should remain in prison anyway, but reversed its position last month "in the interests of justice," according to court records.
At least 10 states provide services such as job training, health care and housing assistance to wrongfully convicted prisoners, according to an Innocence Project study. Most states and the federal government also provide some help in finding social services once someone serves his full prison sentence and is released on parole or supervision, though that help is not available to people whose convictions are overturned.
Compensation for the time they were locked up is even less likely. Federal law permits the government to pay people up to $50,000 for every year they were wrongly imprisoned, but the ex-prisoners -- almost all of whom could have been convicted of state crimes with lesser penalties -- are unlikely to meet its strict eligibility requirements.
"Exonarees fall into this hole where there really isn't a re-entry program for them. Their path to re-entry is often more difficult than someone who has legitimately served time," said Michele Berry, an Ohio lawyer who has handled wrongful conviction cases there. She said that means prisoners freed because they are innocent could have a harder time after they are released than guilty inmates who finish their sentences.
The rest here. More hideous tales of the U.S's prison addiction can be found all over Reason, particularly in our July, 2011 print issue.
The thing about the prison-industrial complex is how perfectly it encapsulates the fact that government always wins. Or rather, ordinary people will always bare the burden of government mistakes. If you suffer the unimaginable horror of being jailed for something you did not do (or something that shouldn't be a crime at all... ), you absolutely deserve payment for your stolen years. But who will pay? Taxpayers, of course. Never bad cops, bad prosecutors, or bad judges.
Another disturbing, rarely-remembered facet of incarceration nation, can be found over at Mother Jones where James Ridgeway writes about "The Other Death Sentence," the grim fact of what caring for elderly lifers in prison means. It's essential reading if you're worried about this issue, and even if you have trouble sympathizing with actual murderers, no matter how old and feeble they may be.
In June, Ridgeway talked to Nick Gillespie and Reason TV about solitary confinement and whether it counts as torture.
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Secretaries spying on the side, sandwich delivery boys who aren’t what they seem… big businesses are employing ever sneakier methods to catch out rogue traders and misbehaving managers
The ‘sandwich delivery man’: a mobile lifeline providing brunch for a busy morning in the City. Grab a bite, eat at your desk, barely break your stride. It’s what any number of hard-pushed, deadline-focused bankers and traders rely on to get through the day. Only, never before has their bagel been followed by a P45 and a court date.
With costs needing to be cut —the number of available banking and insurance jobs declined for the eighteenth month in a row last week — City employers are increasingly using creative means to ditch underperforming, crooked or unwanted staff. They are now turning to private investigators, in all sorts of disguises, to dig up dirt to ensure they can axe staff cleanly and without it reaching court.
These City sleuths are already undercover, catching employees misbehaving. Last year, a City recruitment manager on a six-figure salary quietly set up on his own, illicitly downloading his employer’s private database to give his new business a leg-up. While his company suspected the breach of contract, it wasn’t until they hired investigator Andrew Cross of Answers Investigation — dressed as a sandwich vendor, complete with hairnet and catering van — that the net finally closed. He reveals: ‘We needed to gain access legally to this independent office he’d set up. So we created an entirely fictitious sandwich delivery company — flyers, menus, a price list and free samples — in order to be invited in. Once inside, we made out like we were actually a struggling, novice business and, as he was such a success, casually sought his advice. Without much prompting, he leaned back in his chair and began to preach his business sermon, eventually bragging about his “good old company database”. With that on tape, he was finished.’ The recruitment manager was fined, banned from his line of work for a year and lost his leaving settlement.
City private investigators can work from glossy home bureaux or stark portable buildings on East London industrial estates. But primarily they work on their feet, taking on the guise most likely to ensnare a victim — barman, cleaner, an ordinary City suit — even decking out in full-on Lycra to kayak alongside one businessman’s personal yacht. Private investigators need no qualifications or licence; many fall in from military or police backgrounds. The more successful crews work in teams that blend all skill sets: surveillance, IT knowledge, intelligence gathering. The only rules they need to abide by are the laws of the land — trespass, data protection and criminal law — and their own moral code.
They can get paid from as little as a few hundred pounds for a ‘quick kill’ to hundreds of thousands of pounds for a year-long sting. Private investigation in the City is its own cottage enterprise; this year’s Libor scandal really gathered pace once emails sent between Bollinger-swilling traders were uncovered. As far back as 2006, Hewlett-Packard in the US had to explain why it had hired investigators to obtain personal phone records of non-executive board directors while searching for a mole.
Cross reveals that this sort of subterfuge is increasingly common. He regularly sweeps offices for bugs placed by staff seeking to gain lucrative information, though much of his job is to find ordinary employees in breach of contracts. In fact, almost anything held within a contract can be investigated, even personal relationships. ‘Some staff in privileged positions will have clauses in their contracts to prevent them from having relationships with fellow staff because it can have a detrimental effect on the company. We uncovered two women who worked in financial security having a relationship. One kept arriving at work from the other’s house — within a short time, we had surveillance and expenses to demonstrate where they’d been. They were then sacked.’
Not that investigators always need to use clever means to catch people out; other threats lurk closer to home. ‘Facebook is the new window employers use to spy on staff, even if they never access it on a work computer,’ says Cross. ‘You can still have added a mole to your inner circle. Suppose there is a reasonably nice secretary who everyone gets on with in the office. She could be asked to befriend everyone in the workplace on Facebook and report back any bad behaviour for rewards. Also, with the job market so stagnant, don’t underestimate a colleague selling you out — most people know they can only move up if someone else gets out of the way first. Plenty of cases are cracked because someone turned in a mate.’
Other investigations are of an even more illicit nature. One smartly dressed investigator, who wishes to keep his identity secret, tells of tracking a trader suspected of wildly fiddling his expenses to fund gambling and drinking habits. There was little evidence that his mammoth binges hadn’t actually been spent entertaining multiple clients, as he suggested, and so an investigator was brought in. ‘Remarkably,’ says our anonymous gumshoe, ‘while his work output had dipped because of these binges, it wasn’t enough to give him the boot. Having tracked him for a while, we discovered he liked the company of a nightclub hostess in a private members’ club. Once we had that information, we simply paid her to detail exactly who he was really entertaining — ie, himself — and his bosses put the whole lot to him. He confessed it all and left, sans payout.’
In the City’s years of excess, such behaviour might have been tolerated. Payouts are crippling the big banks — RBS will pay out an estimated £1 billion in redundancy costs to staff this year. Now, in such straitened times, big banks and financial institutions are seeking to dispose of staff without providing a cushy payout. Fraser Younson, partner and head of the employment team at City law firm Berwin Leighton Paisner, says City firms now have to pull up the drawbridge when it comes to payouts. ‘Pre-2008, employers were more willing to make a quick severance payment to get rid of the issue. Things have now changed significantly, employers are becoming far more robust when dealing with irregularities by their employees and noticeably tougher on making ex-gratia severance payments to buy off claims.’
But while the City is having to cut costs, many employees are still keen to lead the high life. Dishonest actions by staff, to gain benefit by theft or deception, rose by 41 per cent in the past year, according to data released by CIFAS (the UK’s fraud prevention service). And fraud — eg, recording fictitious revenues or fiddling expenses — committed by company managers was the fastest-growing area last year, up 30 per cent against 2010, according to KPMG’s 2011 Fraud Barometer report. It’s no wonder the big banks are turning to private investigators when it comes to catching everything from wholesale fraud to casual time-wasting.
To pull the trigger on cheating staff, big financial institutions must get their hands on hard facts first; HR departments will keep every phone call and email for five years on outsourced computer databases, knowing every web impression on a staff machine, right down to the number of key strokes a member of staff makes in a day. Sometimes, though, even this isn’t access enough, says our unnamed investigator. ‘Some of these companies expect us to poke a lens through a window or kick down doors, but we don’t do that, for our own good as well as the company’s. Privacy laws mean you couldn’t, for instance, peer over a fence to catch someone sunbathing who claims to be on their sick bed. However, once they set foot outside the front door, we can happily follow someone all day for weeks. I track people to the gym, to visit a mistress… I’ve even sat incognito at the back of a church wedding as part of the surveillance in one corporate case.’
Now human resources departments, in good times charged with keeping bloated numbers happy, are expected to find more ways to ditch unwanted staff cheaply, says City commentator David Buik. ‘Nobody would admit to it but most big banks will get rid of at least five per cent of staff at the end of each year. This is easy to do legitimately but you always need a reason and that’s where HR comes in. They used to be a tiny cog in a large machine; these days HR departments have their own floor, the head of which will be one of the best-paid people in the company. Their job is now to get overall staff numbers down and if they have a reason to fire someone, they’ll do it.’
City high-flyers even talk about what’s called an ‘unlucky list’: people who get sacked in early December so that the banks won’t have to pay them a bonus. This is common practice, reveals former analyst Geraint Anderson, author of the financial novel Payback Time. ‘Banks know that if you get fired for “gross misconduct”, you forfeit all your deferred bonuses. I have seen colleagues kicked out in December for minor expenses fiddling, front-running — when you tell clients about a research note before it’s been published — and other such small infringements.’
Very often, though, while HR may have suspicions of worker foul play and can exhaustively track someone’s movements online and inside the building, they need some extra help outside of it. As employee contracts become even more watertight in favour of employers, screening and background checks by outside agencies are occasionally carried out with the employee’s own permission, years after they were actually hired. Rupert Emson, CEO of Vero Screening, explains: ‘A company could roll out random sample screening of their entire staff. Employers will occasionally be made aware of “hearsay” information relating to an employee, which they ask us to verify via media and internet searches.’
The screenings can yield all sorts of information, says Emson. ‘One candidate had falsified their work experience to such an extent that they had set up a fake company, including a website, so that it was themself who was approached to provide a reference. Another international candidate was offered a position as a senior lawyer at a City law firm but checks revealed they were not even qualified and had presented forged certificates. Evidently no previous UK employers had ever checked.’ Life in the City has always been dog eat dog; now it’s more important than ever to watch your back. And your sandwiches. ES
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Hundreds of drug dealers could be sprung from jail and back on the streets thanks to a rogue crime lab chemist police say mishandled possibly thousands of drug samples — a bombshell revelation that has infuriated cops and also may have put innocent people behind bars.
What’s more, the shocking scandal remained under a cloak of secrecy for months, and could wreak havoc on the court system for years to come, defense attorneys told the Herald.
“If the state police have uncovered intentional falsification of evidence, that entire lab may become a house of cards,” said Timothy J. Bradl, a Boston defense attorney and former prosecutor who is handling cases where the accused chemist analyzed the evidence.
“If it turns out that people were wrongfully held due to the falsification of drug evidence, the liability could reach into the tens of millions of dollars,” he added. “Who knows? The scale of cases that is being alluded to is staggering.”
State police Col. Timothy Alben said yesterday the chemist, identified by multiple lawyers as eight-year veteran Annie Dookhan, could face criminal charges in breaking lab protocol. Gov. Deval Patrick was forced to shutter the William A. Hinton State Laboratory Institute in Jamaica Plain less than two months after state police took control from the Department of Public Health.
Dookhan stepped down from her post in March amid a DPH probe that started in June 2011, when officials stripped her of her testing duties. But Alben said it was only in recent days that police found the problems to be “more widespread” than first imagined.
Anthony Benedetti, chief counsel for the Committee for Public Counsel Services, said the “stunning” reach of the alleged breaches could taint cases in Norfolk, Plymouth, Suffolk, Essex and Middlesex counties, as well as the Cape and Islands.
“I think we’re all furious about this,” Alben said. “Our concern has to be for any kind of miscarriage of justice that has occurred.”
Efforts to reach Dookhan yesterday were unsuccessful.
Anne Goldbach, forensic services director at CPCS, said a court-appointed lawyer received a letter dated Feb. 1 from Linda Han of DPH’s Bureau of Lab Sciences stating that there was “a possible breach of protocol with respect to 90 cases tested at the Hinton State Laboratory.” She said her office sent out a notice to “hundreds of attorneys” alerting them to the issue.
“A lot of people started to litigate cases and ask for hearings on Dookhan’s analysis on drugs,” she said. “Some attorneys were not able to get hearings because they (prosecutors) kept saying it’s isolated to those 90 cases. It’s isolated to Norfolk County. It’s isolated to that one day. But people pushed and pushed.”
That one day was June 14, 2011, when, Goldbach said, an evidence officer noted discrepancies in logbook entries for drug samples and a matching computer tracking system.
“That’s very disconcerting because between June of last year and February, many cases have gone to court and people have pleaded guilty based on the analysis of Annie Dookhan,” Goldbach said.
The state’s 11 district attorneys released a joint statement yesterday saying they have requested a list of the criminal cases identified as part of the state police audit into the lab and “will take the appropriate action necessary to ensure that justice is done.”
Said Boston attorney Susan Rayburn: “It’s never a harmless mistake when we are talking about someone’s liberty.”
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RANDOLPH COUNTY -- A Chicago man is finally enjoying his freedom. He's been exonerated on murder charges and released from Menard prison. DNA testing on a key piece of evidence in the case now points to another person.
The Cook County State's Attorney's Office has launched a new effort to review cases where there might be doubt. Nash represents the first murder case overturned by the office.
"It's a beautiful day," said Nash. "It's wonderful, wonderful."
Nash left Menard prison Friday morning with family and attorneys by his side. He walked to freedom after 17 years.
"God is good,"said Nash. "That sums everything up, God is good."
Nash is 37-years-old and has plans for the future.
"I'm trying to get into culinary arts you know," said Nash. "I love food."
It's a far cry from the 19-year-old who was charged with murder for the 1995 killing of a man during a robbery at a South Side Chicago home. Nash was picked up, convicted, and handed an 80 year sentence.
"Being locked up," said Nash. "No one wants to be locked up."
From the beginning, he maintained his innocence. Nash spent his time in prison working as his own legal defender by studying and writing motions and asking for outside help.
"You know I didn't have time to be angry," said Nash.
For 15 years, he fought for his innocence from behind prison walls. In the end, it was a letter telling his story that caught the eye of an attorney. That attorney took up his case.
"Do not give up," said attorney Kathleen Zellner. "There are people that will help you, you can win the battle."
Zellner goes through hundreds of letters. She knew Nash's was different.
"Then we talked to him," said Zellner. "It reinforced it, because he was obviously innocent."
Nash and his attorney pushed for DNA testing on a ski mask from the crime scene, supposedly worn by the suspect. The results did not match Nash.
Another two years of legal battles came to an end on Thursday, when the Cook County State's attorney announced Nash would be set free.
Leaving behind almost everything he had at Menard, Nash and his family drove away and headed for home.
"Today is a new day," said Nash. "This is where my life starts."
Nash says during his time in prison, he's missed out on being a part of his son's life.
According to a project, called the National Registry of Exonerations, Illinois leads the country in wrongful convictions. The state has had more than one hundred exonerated since 1989. Cook County alone has seen 78.
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"Oh my Jesus God," Darrell Williams cried out as he heard the verdicts. Turning to the jury, Williams exclaimed: "I didn't do it!"
The jury had just found Williams, a basketball player at Oklahoma State University, guilty of two counts of rape by instrumentation. Two women had testified that Williams had groped them at an off-campus party by reaching inside their pants. And the Stillwater, Oklahoma jury had believed them.
"This verdict represents justice," said prosecutor Jill Tontz outside the courthouse.
If the judge follows the jury's recommendation, Williams will be sentenced on Friday to two years of hard time. The 22-year-old Chicago native will have to register as a sex offender and will be stigmatized for life as a convicted felon.
So, when Williams loudly professes his innocence, we should at least listen.
Williams became a suspect when the two complaining witnesses picked out his photo for police, according to news reports. But the women weren't shown the usual photo spread of mug shots. That wasn't possible -- because Williams had no criminal record.
Instead, since the alleged offender was wearing an OSU Cowboys warm-up suit, the cops showed the women a photo of the basketball team. Williams was the perp, they declared.
When Williams was brought in for questioning, however, he immediately professed his innocence. "I don't know what happened [to the women]," Williams said in an audio-recorded interview. "I was probably misidentified." To prove his innocence, he agreed to take a lie detector test -- and passed. No doubt thinking the first test was a fluke, the authorities asked him to take another one. Passed it, too.
A check with OSU officials revealed that Williams was an honors student with a 4.0 grade point average. He left Chicago, where he graduated from Dunbar High School, to escape urban violence after his older brother Derrick was murdered while visiting their grandmother. As a junior at OSU, Williams earned a basketball scholarship and became the Cowboys' starting forward. His coach and fellow players were convinced he was innocent.
Witnesses at the party told police they had not heard anyone scream or seen any inappropriate behavior. Neither of the women suffered cuts or scratches, and their clothing was not torn. Both had been drinking before they arrived at the dimly lit party. Most important, several party-goers were OSU players wearing warm-up suits just like the kind donned by Williams.
But the complaining witnesses insisted Williams had groped them, and their testimony was enough for the jury to convict him after eight hours of deliberation. Could both women have gotten it wrong? Was this a case of mistaken identity, as Williams had immediately claimed to police?
Tragically, such cases happen more often than the public would like to believe, especially with sexual assaults. A landmark study of wrongful convictions in which prisoners were officially exonerated found that 80 percent of the errors in sexual assault cases were due to false witness identifications. In other words, eight out of 10 complaining witnesses were mistaken -- the highest error rate of any type of wrongful conviction.
The racial breakdown of these cases is eye-popping. Black defendants comprised more than two-thirds of sexual assault exonerees, and white victims inaccurately testified in 72 percent of these cases. To put it another way, a majority of the acknowledged wrongful convictions in sexual assault cases involved white victims who misidentified black defendants.
And, yes, race matters profoundly in assessing Darrell Williams claim of innocence. Williams is black. The two women are white. Other black Cowboys basketball players were at the party. At least two black men on the team closely resembled Williams in height, build and skin tone.
But instead of showing the complaining duo a photo of each potential suspect and asking if they could identify it, the authorities made a fatal mistake. They used the team picture -- forcing the witnesses to compare one black player to another. This must have been confusing. In picking Williams, it would have been natural to choose the black player who looked most like the person who groped them, even if he was not necessarily the actual assailant.
Aware of the growing research on false witness identifications, several states have taken steps to reduce the error rate. In North Carolina, police procedures changed after a white rape victim falsely identified her black assailant despite closely studying his features, only to later champion reforms with the man she had wrongfully put behind bars. Most recently, the New Jersey Supreme Court ordered trial judges to give jurors special instructions about the fallibility of witnesses.
Not in Oklahoma. The Stillwater jury that decided Williams' fate received no cautionary words from the judge. But would it have mattered, considering the jury was comprised of 11 whites and one Asian?
So let's summarize. Williams, an honors student with an unblemished record, was convicted by a jury with no black people on it of an interracial crime that lacked independent witnesses or physical evidence and was based on a notoriously flawed method for identifying suspects.
As for the white prosecutor who crowed about justice, she tearfully clutched the arm of a sheriff's deputy when Williams reacted to the jury's verdict -- even though he merely professed his innocence without leaving the defense table.
The prosecutor should cry. Everyone responsible for this case should shed tears. They ruined a young man's life.
To learn more about Darrell Williams' mother's fight to save her son, read Mary Mitchell's column in the Chicago Sun-Times, "Conviction but no tangible evidence."Link to Story Read More...
Albany pagans might well remember Jessie Misskelley Jr., Jason Baldwin and Damien Echols, a trio known as the “West Memphis Three.” According to an article by Jeannie Nuss on ABCNews.com, a year has passed since the three men were released from prison. Misskelley, Echols and Jason Baldwin were convicted in 1994 for the murder of three young boys, Christopher Byers, Michael Moore and Stevie Branch.
The victims of the crime were found mutilated, inciting investigators of the case to believe that Satanic practices were involved in the crime. When the murder occurred, none of the convicted men were over the age of 18. At a time when their young lives were just beginning, both Baldwin and Misskelley received life sentences with Misskelley getting an additional two 20-year terms. Echols was the only person to have received the death sentence.
Advocacy for release of the ‘West Memphis Three’
The triple murder case was surrounded by accusations of Satanic cult activity. At the time, Damien Echols’ manner of style and dress as well as his in interest Wicca and the occult were misconstrued as a penchant for black magic and Satanic practices. According to an article in the Los Angeles Times by Jennifer L. Mnookin, the sheer brutality of the crime and “cognitive biases” contributed to the wrongful conviction and imprisonment the “West Memphis Three.”
“An overarching problem … is that humans … see what they expect to see … people are subject to an array of ‘cognitive biases’ that affect their evaluation of evidence, and prosecutors and sworn officers are by no means immune to the phenomenon,” Mnookin writes.
Drawing attention to the case were two documentary films focusing on what came to be known as the Robin Hood Hill murders. The 1996 release of “Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills,” and the 2000 release of “Paradise Lost 2: Revelations,” directed by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky and produced by HBO, gained the convicted trio the attentions of top celebrities like Johnny Depp, Metallica, Marilyn Manson, Winona Ryder, and the Dixie Chicks, all of who were in support of the release of the “West Memphis Three.” Many Wiccans and pagans who were convinced of the trio’s innocence also either hoped for or advocated for the trio’s release from prison.
Resulting release from prison
A third film, “Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory,” was not yet released when an unusual court proceeding allowed Echols, Misskelley, and Baldwin to enter in a plea of guilty while receiving their freedom. According to a report on ABC World News, DNA evidence discovered at the crime scene didn’t match any of the convicted men and some witnesses recanted or changed their initial testimony leading to the likelihood of another trial. With the possibility of a new trial, a deal was offered to Echols, Misskelley, and Baldwin where they could plead guilty while stating to the judge their innocence: Doing so would finally give the men their long deserved freedom and count their time in prison as time served, but would prevent the trio from suing the state of Arkansas. To date, the real guilty parties in the crime have not been identified.
Living life today
Echols, Misskelley and Baldwin were freed on August 19, 2011. Today, the “West Memphis Three” are leading new lives and pursuing once impossible dreams.
Kim Severson, a reporter for the New York Times reveals that Echols, who spent nearly 20 years on death row, is now married, living in New York, and is a practicing Zen Buddhist awaiting the release of his second book. “Life After Death” is a 416-page, hardcover book published by Blue Rider Press. The book is scheduled for release on September 18 and can be pre-ordered on Amazon.com. Echols’ first book, “Almost Home,” is a self-published memoir offered through iUniverse, Inc., released in 2005. Severson also reveals that Misskelley has been enjoying a peaceful life while living near his hometown, while Baldwin is currently studying for a degree in law and has taken part in the production of a new film about the case.
The trio and the rest of the world await the future release of the film “Devil’s Knot,” a film that will feature Hollywood celebrities like Colin Firth, Reese Witherspoon, Brian Howe, Robert Baker, and Alessandro Nivola. The Clear Picture Entertainment film is still under production and is based on another book about the case by Mara Leveritt entitled, “Devil’s Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three.” The movie is being produced by Elizabeth Fowler, Clark Peterson & Richard Saperstein.
Despite the delight that comes with freedom and the new doors opening up for Echols, Misskelley, and Baldwin, the years spent in prison cannot easily be forgotten. The emotional scars that the three men bear from their time behind bars and wrongful imprisonment are undeniable. On Twitter, Echols writes, “I can still see every detail of that cell every time I close my eyes. Probably always will.” Read More...
Another day, another wrongful conviction uncovered. This time it's a downstate man who has spent 15 years in prison for a crime prosecutors now believe he did not commit. And still, New York dawdles at fixing a problem that is catastrophic to those caught in its snares, as well as their families.
If revelations of wrongful convictions are not exactly a daily event in New York, they are beginning to seem that way. The increasing sophistication of DNA testing makes it ever easier to verify claims of innocence, and the numbers confirmed are not merely shocking, but a terrible window on the past when innocent people had no scientific means of clearing themselves.
New York is not alone; this is a national problem. But New York combines one of the nation's worst records of wrongful conviction with a seemingly willful determination to do nothing about it. Even Texas has taken steps to deal with its own terrible problem on wrongful convictions.
Western New Yorkers are intimately familiar with this problem, thanks to the wrongful convictions of Lynn DeJac Peters, accused of murdering her own daughter, and of Anthony Capozzi, accused of rapes in Delaware Park.
The newest case is of Eric Glisson, convicted with four other people of killing a cab driver in the Bronx. Glisson repeatedly claimed that he was innocent, and, eventually, sent a letter to federal prosecutors in Manahattan that named members of a violent drug gang as the possible true killers. It was a guess, but one that looks to have been on the mark.
Federal prosecutors investigated Glisson's claims and have provided new information to the Bronx district attorney. A New York Times story said a federal investigator signed an affidavit saying he found "overwhelming" evidence that two convicted gang members, "acting alone, robbed and shot" the cabbie.
If the evidence is as overwhelming as the federal investigator claims, these men should be granted their freedom immediately.
Just as important, though, is for New York finally to take steps to reduce the likelihood of future wrongful convictions. The state can accomplish this by, among other strategies, changing lineup procedures to diminish the too-frequent instances of witness misidentification - that's what happened to Capozzi - and by recording interrogations, to prevent the odd but nonetheless real phenomenon of the false confession, often by mentally ill suspects who are fed confidential details of the crime by their interrogators.
The state had the chance to do this earlier this year. The Assembly passed a bill, but the Senate balked. It is critical that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo pay attention to this problem, because it is literally a matter of life and death.
Women in Erie County were murdered because the wrong man was convicted of the Delaware Park rapes. While Capozzi's life was being stolen from him in prison, the actual rapist, Altemio Sanchez, was graduating from rape to murder, as the Bike Path Killer.
Lineup and interrogation reforms are crucial issues of criminal justice and crime prevention. They are not touchy-feely be-nice-to-criminals measures. New Yorkers need to know their criminal justice system is functioning in a way that, as much as possible, weeds out the innocent and punishes the guilty. As of today, they don't know anything of the kind.
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CLIFTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) – Charges may be filed against two New Jersey state troopers who apparently arranged a high-speed escort for an exotic car caravan earlier this year.
On Thursday, Attorney Charles Sciarra said he believes State Police Sgt. Nadir Nassry faces charges related to the alleged taping of license plates on the sports cars during the March 30 caravan.
Nassry has apparently acknowledged speeding but Sciarra said the 26-year state police veteran shouldn’t forfeit his pension for one incident of poor judgment.
Witnesses have said that the state police patrol cars — with emergency lights flashing — were driving in front of and behind the caravan, which included Porsches, Lamborghinis and Ferraris, at speeds of more than 100 mph.
The caravan was from the “Driving Force Club,” whose members include former New York Giants running back Brandon Jacobs, Aiello reported.
Some dubbed the incident “Death Race 2012″ but there were no injuries or accidents as the exotic cars sped to Atlantic City and back to North Jersey.
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ReliAlert™XC is SecureAlert’s latest GPS offender tracking innovation that sets the standard for reliability and performance in the offender monitoring industry. Advanced features within this single-unit GPS device enable agencies to effectively track offender movements utilizing GPS or cellular locationing technologies and communicate directly with offenders at any time.
Innovative Technologies in a Single Device
From our beginning, SecureAlert has been committed to improving offender monitoring through innovation. This commitment has led to industry-leading innovations within ReliAlert™XC such as: advanced GPS antenna and receiver; automated, multi-network GSM cellular coverage; secondary cellular locationing technology; 95-decibel siren; a central processing unit; on-board 2/3-way voice communication; battery operating performance of 36-45 hours; and integrated Radio Frequency (RF). Combined, these innovations enable supervising officers to more effectively manage, track, and communicate with offenders in the community.
Speak Directly to Offenders – Anytime
The unique technology within the ReliAlert™XC allows for two/three-way voice communication at any time. Monitoring Center operators and supervision officers can call the offender on the device; providing real-time violation intervention. This both reduces the effort spent attempting to communicate with offenders but also enables behavior modification in real time.
Secondary Locationing Technology for Tracking Consistency
ReliAlert™XC offers secondary locationing technology. In the event that GPS is blocked for any reason, the device automatically begins tracking via cellular triangulation. The transition is seamless and ensures that agencies are provided continuous tracking of their offenders in compromised environments.
Easy to Use
ReliAlert™XC was developed as a rugged single-unit device designed to be utilized in a hostile environment. Our approach helps, to minimize equipment damage or loss by offenders and decrease the time spent by agencies on inventory management. Trained supervision officers can install the device is less than five minutes.
Customizable and Cost-Effective
The innovative ReliAlert™XC device allows agencies greater flexibility in monitoring offenders by providing multiple monitoring levels without requiring an equipment change. An offender’s monitoring intensity can be adjusted at any time via SecureAlert’s monitoring software. By providing this flexibility, ReliAlert™XC becomes a critical, cost-effective tool for agencies to utilize when dealing with budget and staffing constraints.
Optional SecureCuff™ for High-Risk Offenders
SecureAlert’s patent-pending SecureCuff™ is the only security cuff in the industry specifically made for high-risk offenders. It has encased, hardened steel bands designed to be highly cut-resistant. When applied to the ReliAlert™XC device, the SecureCuff™ helps address the critical “strap cut” issue so prevalent with juveniles and high-risk offenders – significantly reducing the number of officer response hours attempting to locate offenders who have absconded.
Optional RF Beacon for Enhanced Tracking
GPS can be complimented by RF tracking when the ReliAlert™XC device is paired with SecureAlert’s HomeAware™ Beacon. GPS tracking is provided until the offender enters communication range of the Beacon; at which point, RF tracking begins. This tracking combination increases the ability to maintain critical, accurate offender location information inside buildings and provide agencies with an effective way to “tether” an offender to a specific location.
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Top prosecutor 'hid evidence that would have cleared innocent husband who spent 25 YEARS in prison for beating wife to death'
DNA evidence linked killing to different man quarter of a century on
Morton had been convicted despite little evidence linking him to crime and no trace of murder weapon
Criminal inquiry against Ken Anderson, who won attorney of the year for prosecuting Morton in the case
Evidence which was said to be hidden from the defense team has lead to a criminal inquiry against Anderson.
Mr Morton was jailed for life in 1987 after being convicted of murder, despite the fact no evidence linked him directly to the crime and he had no criminal record.
His wife was found dead at their home in Williamson County, Texas, having been beaten with a blunt wooden object which was never found.
His lawyers, who battled tirelessly for years to prove his innocence, found that prosecutors had a statement from both his son - who witnessed the brutal murder - and a neighbor, who saw a suspicious man in the area.
Speaking to CBS' 60 Minutes about what it was like to walk free, Mr Morton said: 'It was so alien at first. It wasn't quite real. We stepped out of the courtroom and it was a beautiful sunny day.
'The sun felt so good on my face, on my skin. I can just feel like I was just drinking in the sunshine. Free sun feels different, I know it sounds stupid, but it does.'
Accepts no blame: District Judge Ken Anderson won prosecutor of the year for getting a conviction in the case of Michael Morton and a criminal inquiry is now underway to discern if he did any wrongdoing
Taste of freedom: The moment Michael Morton walked free from court after 25 years of wrongful imprisonment with his lawyer John Raley of the Innocence Project
Williamson County District Attorney Ken Anderson told the court that Morton murdered his wife because she wouldn't have sex with him, calling him violent and unremorseful.
His defense attorneys suspected the prosecution was withholding evidence the whole way through the trial and it was only recently, after years of legal wrangling that they were able to obtain the file from the original trial.
Lawyer for the Innocence Project John Raley said the documents they saw would have proved that Michael Morton was innocent and he would never have been sent to jail. Though an attorney for Anderson denies it would have been enough for a not-guilty verdict.
Mr Raley is referring to a police report in which Christine's mother told investigators that her three-year-old grandson Eric witnessed the horrific murder and described in detail about the 'monster' with the 'big mustache' that killed his mother.
Answers: Morton says he's not interested in revenge, but wants someone to be held accountable for putting him away
When asked if daddy was there, he said: 'No, mommy and Eric was there,' according to the police report.
A neighbor also described seeing a suspicious man 'park a green van on the street' and 'walk into the wooded area' behind the Morton home. This was also never released by the prosecutor, who was legally and ethically obliged to release the evidence.
Ken Anderson went on to be named prosecutor of the year in Texas right after Morton's conviction and since 2002 he's been a district judge in the same court where he was tried.
The Innocence Project fought for five years to DNA test a bloody bandana found near the crime scene.
When they were eventually granted permission, they found the blood of Christine Morton and the DNA of known felon Mark Alan Norwood, who's since been arrested for her murder.
In his only public statement made since Morton was acquitted, Anderson admitted a mistake had been made but denied it being his fault.
He said: 'I want to formally apologize for the system's failure to Mr Morton...In my heart I know there was no misconduct whatsoever.'
In February, a Texas judge agreed with Michael Morton's legal team that there was probable cause to believe Ken Anderson violated the law, and Anderson is now the subject of a special criminal inquiry.
During his 25 years in prison, Morton's son Eric - apparently convinced by others of his father's guilt - told him he did not want to have any further contact with him.
They have recently been reunited and Morton has received almost $2 million compensation for his wrongful conviction.