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Reposted from Horace Boothroyd III by IreGyre Editor's Note: The sort of thing society will see more often when there is a lack of money for public defenders and even adequate funding for police and police training.... -- IreGyre

Not her birthday, not her address, and not her description just her name.

An Atlanta woman says she was mistakenly imprisoned for 53 days because police confused her for someone else with the same name, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Atlanta's Channel 2 Action News report.

Teresa Culpepper says she called police to report that her truck had been stolen in August. But when they showed up at her home, they arrested her for aggravated assault committed by another Teresa.

Only in America

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Sat Oct 15, 2011 at 05:59 PM PDT

Troy Davis and Eyewitness Testimony

by rfall

Reposted from rfall by IreGyre Editor's Note: a reminder of how important flawed eyewitness testimony can be. -- IreGyre

Although most of the outrage over the Troy Davis execution has disappeared from the media, I was reminded of the case today when I ran across an article in the Skeptical Inquirer, the house journal of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry.

More after the squiqqle-fence.

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Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 08:32 AM PDT

Justice for Amanda

by noweasels

Reposted from noweasels by IreGyre Editor's Note: Here is another injustice put right. In part due to the automatic full appeals granted in Italy as a matter of course. Do they get first trials wrong or partially wrong more often than the US? maybe but they have a mechanism to fix things sooner. The US has far too many people freed after a decade or two when a wrong is righted. -- IreGyre

Amanda Knox, a 24-year-old American, is finally free.

Wrongly accused, wrongly convicted . . . four years in an Italian prison for a crime she did not commit.  Tonight, she is free.

(Disclaimer: I have never believed that Amanda Knox was guilty in this case and I contributed to her appeal fund.)

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Reposted from Vyan by IreGyre Editor's Note: About the extreme injustice done to Assata Shakur -- IreGyre

It's one thing to punk Fox long distance on his own show - but yesterday Jon Stewart did to in O'Reilly's Face by giving example after example of their selective outrage in reaction to the invitation of Common to the White House Poetry Reading.

This is a beautiful thing to see.

Now O'Reilly's big bugaboo this time is that Common wrote a song about Assata Shakur who was convicted of shooting a New Jersey Police Officer.  He ignores of course that Shakur was a member of the Black Panthers and that all convictions of them should be suspect because of J. Edgar Hoover COINTELPRO program which also destroyed the cases against The Weathermen.

Via the UK Guardian

That the US government admits it had a programme to "neutralise" the Black Panther leadership? That J Edgar Hoover confessed that this was not because the Panthers were committing any crimes, but because they were feeding children? That medical experts testified that Assata Shakur could not have shot the New Jersey policeman for whose death she went to jail?

Like Geronimo Pratt, whose murder conviction the courts overturned after 27 years, when evidence emerged that the government had framed Pratt to remove him from the Panthers' leadership, the US government wanted Assata Shakur because she dared to say that she has the right to defend her kin against murderers, such as the white policeman who shot a black 16 yearold in the back in Teaneck, New Jersey.

Oh by the way, Assata happens to be Tupac's Step Aunt - so in many ways she's a legend within Hip Hop.

So the question falls if you're going to be outraged about Common being invited to the White House, are you also going to be outraged about Bono (whose written songs supporting the innocence of convicted FBI shooter Leonard Peltier) or Bob Dylan (who wrote the song Hurricane about eventually exonerated boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter).

And so on and so forth.

Yeah, it's not like the police, FBI and DOJ ever have any wrongful convictions right Billy? Just ask Scooter Libby!

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Reposted from teacherken by ramara Editor's Note: An important diary. -- ramara
Those who believe that righteous indignation and protest politics were appropriate in the struggle to end Jim Crow, but that something less will do as we seek to dismantle mass incarceration, fail to appreciate the magnitude of the challenge. If our nation were to return to the rates of incarceration we had in the 1970s, we would have to release 4 out of 5 people behind bars. A million people employed by the criminal justice system could lose their jobs. Private prison companies would see their profits vanish. This system is now so deeply rooted in our social, political and economic structures that it is not going to fade away without a major shift in public consciousness.

Ponder that for a moment.

Our current rate of incarceration is 5 times that of a time less than 4 decades ago.

Our increased incarceration is responsible for 1 million jobs - that is out of a total current workforce of about 152 million.

The words are by Michelle Alexander.  They appear in The New York Times in an op ed titled as it this diary, In Prison Reform, Money Trumps Civil Rights Alexander is the author of a book on prisons titled The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.   At the publisher's website for the book one sees it described as "A BOLD AND INNOVATIVE ARGUMENT THAT MASS INCARCERATION AMOUNTS TO A DEVASTATING SYSTEM OF RACIAL CONTROL, BY A RISING LEGAL STAR."  Alexander teaches law at Ohio State.

There are several reasons why I want to focus on the issues Alexander raises

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Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 04:59 PM PDT

Children Deserve Second Chances

by TheCFSY

Reposted from TheCFSY by ramara

By Pat Nolan, Vice President of Prison Fellowship and Jody Kent Lavy, Director & National Coordinator of the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth

Think back to when you were a teenager. Did you do anything that was really stupid? We both certainly did. Over time our thought processes developed and we made better decisions. We cringe now at the thought of how careless we were back then.

Of course, what happened to us is experienced by all young people. Scientists have found that our brains are not fully developed as teens. That means that teenagers don't always make very good decisions. They are more impulsive and have less ability to assess risks than adults. That is why we don't let youngsters drink until they are 21, and they cannot sign contracts or make other legal decisions until they are 18.

However, there is one area where these fundamental differences between young people and adults are not acknowledged: many states' criminal laws. Many of the states allow teenagers to be sentenced to life without parole even if they were as young as 12 or 13 at the time of the crime. There is no doubt that youngsters can make horrible decisions that end up harming others. And they should be held accountable for those acts. But is it just to imprison them for the rest of their lives without at least considering their capacity to mature and improve themselves?

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Sun Apr 10, 2011 at 09:20 AM PDT

Giving Injustice a Teflon Coating

by IreGyre

Reposted from IreGyre by IreGyre

$14 Million Jury Award to Ex-Inmate Is Dismissed

New York Times, March 29, 2011

The Supreme Court on Tuesday threw out a $14 million jury award in favor of a former death row inmate who was freed after prosecutorial misconduct came to light.

The 5-to-4 decision divided along the court’s ideological fault line and prompted the first dissent read from the bench this term, from Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

The former inmate, John Thompson, had sued Harry F. Connick, a former district attorney in New Orleans, saying his office had not trained prosecutors to turn over exculpatory evidence. Prosecutors in the office had failed to give Mr. Thompson’s lawyers a report showing that blood at a crime scene was not his.

Regardless of the merits of the majority's arguments in this ruling on the wider stage it is just another ratchet in the right's quest to neutralize democracy and reinforce its dominance and the power of its pawns and enablers.

the LA legislature could in theory vote on a special bill to compensate him just our of fairness.... won't hold my breath but we do have a government that is meant to be by the people, for the people and of the people so why not? What those who are hired to act in our name do in the end is our collective social responsibility to fix if things like injustice at their hands. The government is only as good as we are aware of and resolve to make it. And those who want us to lose all faith in it are those who do not want it to serve us... the small proportion of society who increasingly and effectively own and employ our elected officials want government to serve them not us.

And along with that they want the majority who have less and less say in it to pay for more of its costs while allowing more and more privatization to further enrich the few at the expense of the many... And compensating those crushed by its failings is just one of many areas deemed unnecessary. (It wold be just one of many things that if allowed could imply that revenues ought to increase. Taxes on the most wealthy to the point where they pay what they paid back in the 1950's under Eisenhower or under Nixon or even Reagan would make this more affordable not to mention get rid of the deficit)

And along the way any innocent citizens who are crushed by a dysfunctional justice system become less and less important in this kind of a social contract. The excessively stoked fears of crime that allow corrupt and self-serving people to advance in a criminal justice system benefits the few who use this fear-button issue to advance their overall agenda... "look dangerous criminals over there, let us do anything and everything to be tough on crime" and while people worry excessively about crime and other supposedly related "scariness", power accumulates more power and money accumulates more money without too much attention to how they do that.

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Reposted from TalkLeft by IreGyre Editor's Note: Judges arbitrarily ignoring a jury's multiple non guilty verdicts and imposing a sentence well beyond the maximum for a single guilty count? US justice in 2011. -- IreGyre

It's very hard to explain to clients (and the public) that when a federal defendant goes to trial, unless he is acquitted of every count, he risks being sentenced not just for the counts he was convicted of, but also for the counts on which the jury found him not guilty.

Sentencing for acquitted conduct is expressly authorized by the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.

The absurdity of the policy is illustrated very well by a sentence handed down this week by a federal judge in the District of Columbia. Antwuan Ball was convicted on a single count of distributing 11 grams of crack cocaine for $600.00. He was acquitted of racketeering, conspiracy, and every other crime, including murder.

The judge held Ball accountable for the conduct the jury found he did not commit, and sentenced him to 18 years. The Government had asked for 40 years, even though had Ball taken a plea deal before trial, and pleaded guilty to counts he was later found innocent of, it would have asked for 25 years.

This is stuff straight out of Alice in Wonderland. As Ball's lawyer wrote in a sentencing memo (available on PACER): [More...]

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Thu Feb 24, 2011 at 01:50 AM PST

Miranda on life support

by DParker

Reposted from DParker by IreGyre Editor's Note: The clear trend has been the eroding of our liberties but at the same time higher standards and other protections may reduce railroading innocent people... 2 steps forward 2 steps back... this goes into one of the backwards steps... -- IreGyre

Everyone who has seen a police-related television show or movie, or, for that matter, has been arrested and interrogated, has some familiarity with the Miranda warnings.  Many fewer people, however, are aware of the history that led to them, the reasons that they are vital to preservation of the constitutional rights of those suspected of criminal activity, or of the constant battle waged by conservatives to demolish the requirement that they be given.

On December 7, the United States Supreme Court heard oral argument in Florida v. Powell, a case representing the latest efforts of those who dislike the Constitution to deprive those suspected of crime of its protections.

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Reposted from John Terzano The Justice Project by IreGyre Editor's Note: Good news from Ohio last year ... reforms to make injustice less likely -- IreGyre

On April 5th Ohio Governor Ted Strickland signed a reform bill that will help reduce wrongful convictions and improve the fairness and accuracy of our criminal justice system. Among the measures included are safeguards to improve the eyewitness identification process by requiring police to use a more accurate protocol for administering live and photo lineups. The new protocol reflects the growing awareness that eyewitness evidence is fragile, and much like trace physical evidence must be collected very carefully, or it may become tainted.

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Reposted from DParker by IreGyre Editor's Note: The next in a continuing republishing of outstanding and pertinent diaries on Injustice and how to correct them. -- IreGyre

As you know from diaries like this one, the Supreme Court decided last week, in District Attorney's Office v. Osborne, that convicted Americans have no Constitutional right to further DNA testing of evidence.  This decision is reprehensible on its own merits, but it leaves open a bigger question.

Is actual innocence a ground for relief from a conviction under the United States Constitution?

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Reposted from Something the Dog Said by IreGyre Editor's Note: As promised, here is an oldie but just one of many many goodies that are worth revisiting on the Injustice & Innocence group -- IreGyre

Let’s do a thought experiment; you are at home and there is a knock at the door. You open it and there is police detective there. He wants to question you about a murder from thirty-one years ago. You know you never murdered anyone, so you consent. Then the detective tells you that your DNA was matched to a sample from the crime scene, would you be worried? You should be.

"Originally posted at Squarestate.net"

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