Henry Thompson — September 6, 2013 @ 2:50 PM — Comments (0)
New York exoneree Jeffery Deskovic was recently awarded $5.4 million dollars for his wrongful conviction and imprisonment in a murder/rape case. Deskovic was convicted when he was 16 years old and served 15 years in prison after being forced to confess by police and a hired polygraph investigator. Deskovic was told if the DNA test came back negative then he would be cleared as a suspect and freed. The DNA tests returned without Deskovic’s DNA present, and yet he remained in custody because of his false confession.
Jeffery spent almost half of his life imprisoned for a crime he did not commit. The Peekskill Common Council board recently awarded him $5.4 million in return for the years spent in jail. Since being exonerated in 2011 with the help of the Innocence Project, Jeffery has earned his Masters Degree in Criminal Justice, started a foundation in his own name, and is working to further the exoneration of others who are wrongfully imprisoned.
Deskovic’s foundation has helped many already and will continue to help those in need. They offer services for recent exonerees who are often without anyone to turn to as well as research into wrongful incarceration cases.
More information about Deskovic can be found at The Innocence Project, Deskovic Foundation, and Lohud.com.
Compensation,exoneration,judicial,justice,legislation, compensation, exoneree, innocence project, judicial, justice
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Henry Thompson — September 5, 2013 @ 8:00 AM — Comments (0)
In the news last week were two men who have both claimed to be innocent of the crimes for which they have been convicted for more than 35 years. The battle for justice is over for both of them, but for very different reasons. On August 28th, Anthony McKinney died while attempting to prove his innocence and regain his life. On August 29th, Milton Scarborough was given back his life and released from prison after 36 years of denying his guilt.
On August 29th, 2013 Milton Scarborough, 73, of Pennsylvania, was released from prison for a murder he was convicted of in 1976. Scarborough was not found innocent and his conviction still stands as he was released through a deal made between him and the courts. Scarborough has been challenging his wrongful conviction case at the state and federal level, as well as denying his guilt for decades without success. Scarborough contends that with DNA testing he would be exonerated of his crime. A Pennsylvania Superior Court decision noted that the absence of Scarborough’s DNA at the crime scene does not ensure that he was not present at the crime. About a month after this decision was made to not fund DNA testing for Scarborough, however, Lycoming District Attorney Eric R. Linhardt announced that Scarborough would be released to his family. He will be monitored by the courts for the duration of his sentence as a condition of the agreement. If Scarborough would have won an appeal, to retry him would have been difficult and expensive for the state to pursue due to a lack of witnesses and valid testimonies.
On Wednesday August 28, just one day before Scarborough’s release, a man who was desperately trying to prove his innocence died while still in prison. Anthony McKinney was found deceased in his cell yesterday with the cause of death yet to be determined, though foul play is not suspected. McKinney was arrested in 1978 for the murder of a security guard. At 18 years old, McKinney pled guilty after being beaten with pipes by police. Although there were witnesses who stated that McKinney was not present at the murder scene, Anthony McKinney stayed imprisoned for 35 years.
Unfortunately judges never heard McKinney’s case due to six years of delays and controversies. Karen Daniel, the lead attorney for Anthony McKinney and an attorney for the Center for Wrongful Convictions stated “The criminal justice system failed Anthony.”
In McKinney’s case, his imprisoned life led to his untimely death at age 53. McKinney is a victim of the backlog of cases upon cases that are waiting at the door of courthouses around the country. Along with the large amounts of time taken to prove innocence, prosecutorial bias can slow the process as well. The Illinois court system failed in its duty to provide justice for all people.
These two cases reflect the priorities of these two justice systems. In either case, the courts and the prosecution had motives for either responding to an inmate’s cries for justice or ignoring them. These actions, as all of the actions of any public official, should be constantly monitored and judged on the basis of fairness and justice.
More information about Scarborough’s case can be found The Patriot News (1) while information of Anthony McKinney can be found at The Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Reader.
judicial,justice,litigation,prison, Anita Alvarez, Anthony McKinney, Center on Wrongful Convictions, CWC, death, dies in prison, illinois, innocence project, Milton Scarborough, Pennsylvania, prison
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Henry Thompson — September 4, 2013 @ 1:00 PM — Comments (0)
Here is a roundup of some highlights in the news recently about exonerations or exonerees who are building their lives after prison.
Exoneree Brian Banks who famously made his way back to the NFL and football recently has unfortunately been cut from the Atlanta Falcons roster. Banks played during the preseason, and recorded two tackles in a game August 9th. Although this is a setback in Banks’ improbable quest for an NFL roster spot, he has not let this news discourage him as he will be a free agent available to another team in need of a linebacker. The Atlanta Falcons administration appreciates Banks’ effort and heart, and has said that there is a role for Banks at the Atlanta Falcons whether on the field or not. More information can be found at ESPN.
In Clark County Washington Alan Northrop expressed his gratitude recently when receiving news about his forthcoming compensation for the 17 years he spent wrongfully imprisoned. Through DNA evidence and support from the Innocence Project Northwest, Northrop was freed. For more information about Northrop visit The Columbian.
After being in prison for 17 years, 12 of which were on death row, for a crime he did not commit , Randy Steidl now enjoys his freedom more than most. Steidl has taken to touring the country and giving speeches on the death penalty and its implications. More information can be found at WDRB.com.
Exoneree James Kluppleberg has been out of prison for more than a year and yet he still struggles to provide for himself and his family due to the stigma of being incarcerated. He explains that the general public does not understand the concept of exoneration. Kluppleberg applied for a written certificate from the state proving his innocence and exoneration. On August 6, 2013 Kluppelberg received that certificate and will now hopefully find an easier path to leading a normal life. Read more at CBS Chicago.
A student who was detained by the DEA for five days without food or water has recently won a lawsuit granting him $4.1 million in damages. What’s troubling about this award is whether or not he will have to pay taxes to the IRS on it. Read more about Daniel Chong at Forbes Magazine.
Sharon Snyder, an employee of a local clerk of court, was recently fired for passing a document describing in detail how to file a request for postconviction DNA testing to Robert Nelson. Nelson had been in prison since 1984 and Snyder’s vital act of sharing information ended up allowing Nelson to obtain exonerative DNA results that led to the overturning of his wrongful conviction. Read more at The Huffington Post.
Under what appear to be shady circumstances, the presiding judge in a case of a soon-to-be exonerated prisoner in Chicago, Stanley Wrice, has just recused herself for seemingly personal reasons. Wrice was beaten and tortured into a confessing to a gang rape in 1982. Judge Evelyn Clay was presiding over Wrice’s proceeding when suddenly she was called to meet with her superior. After said meeting Clay stated that she had personal knowledge of those involved and could no longer be the judge in charge. Rumors abound that Clay’s superior has/had ties to former Mayor Daly’s (who’s brother is currently running for Governor of Illinois) and that those ties influenced the recusal decision. Read more at The Huffington Post Chicago.
Compensation,exoneration,Innocence Project of Florida,justice,litigation,post-conviction,prison, Alan Northrop, Atlanta Falcons, Brian Banks, Daniel Chong, exonerated, Forbes Magazine, Huffington Post, James Kluppelberg, NFL, Randy Steidl, Robert Nelson, Washingon Innocence Project
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Henry Thompson — @ 8:00 AM — Comments (0)
Last week marked the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech; it was widely celebrated as well it should. This week marks another 50th anniversary – the beginning of a horrific journey for Freddie Pitts and Wilbert Lee. One we should never forget.
Pitts and Lee after their retrial.
A miscarriage of justice occurred on August 28, 1963 in Port St. Joe, Florida between Pitts and Lee and the local police. The two men were wrongly convicted of killing a convenience store clerk. Their conviction was swift and they were beaten by their interrogators. This blatant disregard for the law and due process as well as the racism displayed in Port St. Joe is difficult to truly comprehend.
Pitts and Lee spent twelve years imprisoned and nine of them were on death row. Their release from prison was made possible by a confession that was recorded by a Miami-Herald reporter. Curtis Adams confessed from his jail cell as he was serving a life sentence for another murder. Upon the news of their innocence, two Miami lawyers agreed to take the case pro bono. After numerous appeals the two men were finally granted their freedom by way of a clemency pardon in 1975. The two men were eventually awarded $500,00 each for their time served in 1998.
The experiences of Wilbert Lee and Freddie Pitts must be remembered by all as a clear example of what Martin Luther King rallied against in his historical speech delivered at the Lincoln memorial. We too have a dream – that one day wrongful convictions will be a thing of the past.
Further information on the case of Freddie Pitts and Wilbert Lee can be found at the Tallahassee Democrat and the Commission on Capital Cases.
Compensation,exoneration,justice,prison, anniversary, Curtis Adams, Florida, Freddie Pitts, I Have A Dream, MLK, pardoned, Wilbert Lee
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Henry Thompson — September 3, 2013 @ 12:45 PM — Comments (0)
Many of those who are exonerated of crimes they did not commit often leave prison and enter a world where they are alone. Many exonerees that are without the care of family or friends, some of whom have been in prison for 10 or 20 or more years, struggle with re-integrating into society. The lack of support given to them by the prison system and their state government is appalling and needs to be addressed by a larger audience.
Recent exoneree Johnnie O’Neal
Not only do many exonerees need counseling upon their release but more often than not exonerees rightfully seek compensation for time served. Exonerees are given no assistance in seeking out legal expertise needed to help with their problems. One such man who was recently exonerated from a New York prison is Johnnie O’Neal. O’Neal served 28 years for a rape he did not commit. In a case of mistaken identity, O’Neal was arrested and sent to prison in 1985 and was denied parole on multiple occasions, because he denied ever committing the crime. O’Neal was initially released in 1998 on parole and had subsequent minor parole violations.
With the help of the Legal Aid Society in New York, O’Neal’s wrongful conviction was rectified in 2013. After being labeled a violent sex offender for more than 10 years, the Legal Aid Society helped reopen the case in 2010 and O’Neal was exonerated three years later on July 15, 2013.
O’Neal has stated that he will bring a lawsuit against those responsible for his wrongful incarceration and the subsequent difficulties he experienced in supporting himself as an ex-convict and an accused sex offender.
O’Neal’s case draws attention to the lack of support for and acknowledgement of the problems exonerees face upon their release. O’Neal now must search out the right course of action to somehow gain redress for his his time served and opportunities lost.
More information on Johnnie O’Neal’s case can be found at the New York Daily News and the Innocence Project. Further information on state compensation statutes and exoneree support can be found in the Innocence Project’s compensation report Making Up For Lost Time: What The Wrongfully Convicted Endure And How To Provide Fair Compensation.
Compensation,exoneration,Innocence Project of Florida,justice,litigation,prison, compensation, exonerated, exonerree, innocence project, justice, lawsuit, Legal Aid Society, New York, post-conviction, support
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Anna Fitzpatrick — @ 12:41 PM — Comments (0)
Congratulations to Florida DNA exoneree Chad Heins, who graduated from Fox Valley Semi-Truck Driving Program in Appleton, Wisconsin. Upon graduation, he received numerous calls from companies interested in hiring him. He chose instead to work with his father who has a lifetime of experience driving semis. He has logged tens of thousands of miles on the in the last two months. He recently delivered 46,000 tons of lumber to Kentucky.
Heins lives in Wisconsin with his children and family. We wish him the best of luck in his new career path and the rest of his endeavors! Keep up the hard work!
Innocence Project of Florida,Uncategorized, Chad Heins
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Henry Thompson — August 20, 2013 @ 3:48 PM — Comments (0)
Along with our Innocence Network colleagues, we are saddened by the loss of Forest Shomberg and offer our condolences to his friends and family. He will be missed and remembered.
Shomberg at his release in 2009.
Forest Shomberg was exonerated in 2009 for a 2002 assault conviction. He served six years for this crime, which he did not commit. The Wisconsin Innocence Project helped facilitate his exoneration and release. Shomberg received no support upon his release in 2009 for his documented addiction problems. Vital support for exonerees is non-existent in many states even though it could save lives. More information about Shomberg can be found at the Wisconsin State Journal.
exoneration,post-conviction, exoneree, Forest Shomberg, Wisconsin Innocence Project
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Ileejah Hutchinson — August 14, 2013 @ 11:12 AM — Comments (0)
James Kluppelberg, who was wrongfully convicted of arson that killed six people and sentenced to life in prison, was granted a certificate of innocence.
Kluppelberg was convicted and spent 24 years behind bars for a crime he did not commit only to be exonerated on May 30, 2012 after a Cook County Judge vacated his conviction. He was delighted to be released just in time to celebrate his 47th birthday as a free man.
An exoneration after proclaiming innocence since the inception of a case is ideal, but to walk around with a mistake on your record is hurtful not to mention a large reminder of the negligence of another.
Kluppelberg’s attorney opted for a certificate of innocence after his exoneration; however, the Cook County State Attorney’s Office fought the issuance of the certificate.
Now 14 months post exoneration, Kluppelberg has been issued his certificate by Judge Michael McHale and can finally put the past behind him and move on.
Congratulations James and we wish you luck in all of your future endeavors as a free man.
exoneration,Innocence Project of Florida,judicial,post-conviction,Uncategorized, James Kluppelberg
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Ileejah Hutchinson — August 7, 2013 @ 10:51 AM — Comments (0)
Innocence Project Northwest exoneree, Alan Northrop, is now eligible for compensation for his wrongful conviction and imprisonment under a new state law that went into effect Sunday.
Northrop, 49, spent 17 years in prison for rape until his exoneration in 2010 due to DNA evidence.
Under House Bill 1341, Northrop is eligible to receive $50,000 for each year he was imprisoned plus payment of all child support debt. According to the bill, if Northrop receives restitution for all 17 years he will receive a total amount of $850,000.
The amount of money provided by the state is a large amount, but will never make up for the time stolen from Northrop and his children; however, it is a step in the right direction to correct this terrible wrong.
As of now, only 27 states plus Washington D.C. have statues providing compensation for the wrongfully convicted. Under the new Washington bill about a dozen more exonerees will be eligible for restitution.
Since his exoneration, Northrop has been working to rebuild his life and reconnecting with his three children. The new bill also provides his three children with free tuition at state universities until age 26.
Congratulations to Alan Northrop, and his children; their daddy is finally home.
Compensation,exoneration,justice,litigation,policy,post-conviction,Uncategorized, Alan Northrop, compensation, DNA evidence, Innocence Project Northwest, Washington State
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Anna Fitzpatrick — @ 10:49 AM — Comments (0)
After spending nearly a decade behind bars for a crime he did not commit, Dwanye Provience sued Detroit in 2010 in a lawsuit that includes a cop accused of withholding evidence and would likely have made Provience a millionaire. But on July 18, just as his lawsuit was gaining momentum, the city filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection, effectively freezing all lawsuit cases against it and leaving Provience facing the prospect of waiting years for an uncertain payday, or worse, collecting pennies on the dollar in bankruptcy court.
Provience and his lawyer have been working on this case for three years now. The bankruptcy filing may add one more. “It seemed like a slap in the face,” Provience says, “because when I was released, there wasn’t even an apology from the City of Detroit or the police department….”
Provience’s case serves to highlight the importance of having a state compensation law for the wrongfully convicted on the books. Michigan is one of the twenty-one states that still does not have any sort of compensation law. States are urged to pay the wrongfully convicted a fixed amount or range for each year spent in prison and it is worth noting that then-President George W. Bush supported a congressional recommendation that paid $50,000 for each year a wrongfully convicted federal prisoner spends behind bars.
A judgement or settlement with Detroit would help Provience provide for his three children and maybe allow him to open a gym one day, a personal goal of his. It is possible U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes could lift the automatic stay that halted all pending lawsuits against the city. And while Provience’s future is uncertain, he is grateful to finally be back on the outside, living the life he chooses for himself.
exoneration,policy,Uncategorized, bankruptcy, compensation lawsuits, Detroit, Dwanye Provience, Michigan, wrongful convictions
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