End Mass Criminalization of Black and Brown Youth

End Racism and Discrimination

Monday, 25 May 2015 00:00

The fight for freedom and the struggle for justice needs you!.

Written by Gov. Don Siegelman

The recent denial of my appeal underscores the need for us to keep fighting for change.

The fact that what I did wasn't a crime until the judicial decision that sent me to prison is an anomaly in American Jurisprudence, unfortunately recent efforts by the Innocence Project and The Equal Justice Initiative have proven that many innocent people have been convicted and at least one executed.

For too long our system has been driven by a mandate created by our "Wars" on drugs and crime, a "get tough on crime", "Lock'em up and throw away the key" mentality that has led to the U.S. having the largest prison population the world has ever known.

Here is one reason why: The U.S. Solicitor General argued to the U.S. Supreme Court that:

"U.S. Citizens do not have a constitutional right not to be framed." (January 4, 2010, reported by the Los Angeles Times, January 5th, 2010)

This damning pronouncement by the President's lawyer came in a case where two men had spent twenty-five years in prison for a crime they didn't commit. They were suing Iowa law enforcement for civil damages for willfully and intentionally framing them. Iowa law enforcement had made a deal with a felon that he would get a light sentence if he would testify against the two men.

That's what happened in my case too. The government's key witness, Nick Bailey, described by CBS's Scott Pelly as a "crook", was told by prosecutors that they would recommend "no time in prison" if he would say what needed to be said. The witness told CBS 60 Minutes that he was made to write his proposed testimony over and over until he got his story straight. (CBS 60 Minutes, 2/24/08)

There was paralegal working for the Department of Justice who filed a formal whistleblower complaint telling the U.S. Attorney General that she witnessed the prosecutors pressuring the witness and cajoling him to get him to say what the prosecutors wanted. She produced emails to support her claims.

Instead of bring her and the exculpatory evidence forward the prosecutors and the Department of Justice had her fired. They refuse to release information to this day.

Unfortunately, this use of felons to produce false testimony to get convictions is common place in U.S. courts.

My point is the fight for justice is much bigger than just me and my case.

The President has the power to make things right. He can issue pardons and shorten sentences but he can also change the mandate from one of an insatiable appetite for convictions to a mandate seeking truth and justice. The President appoints the Attorney general, the Solicitor General, all federal judges and all U.S. Attorneys. He sets the policies for what happens in our justice system. The President can balance the scales of justice.

One question we should ask ourselves when considering who to support for President in 2016 is: "Will this person, as President, reset America's moral compass?"

The fight for freedom and the struggle for justice needs you!

Read 17605 times Last modified on Monday, 25 May 2015 11:51

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