Archive for the Category »Innocence «

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Clarence Thomas—The Last Overseer…

I chose to serve a 25-yr sentence in federal prison rather than betray others.  At some point in my youth and experiences I acquired a social consciousness, and a special animus for those who would sell their souls at any price

Having spent most of my lifetime in human rights and political struggle, and having served Honorably from 1959-to-1965 in the American Civil War in the Jim Crow South–precisely a century after the first one–it truly pains me to witness some turn traitor on their own people, their race, their class, their very family history.

While I’m a non-theist and don’t believe in fairies, ghosts, goblins or gods, I do believe in a universal connection tying all things to all times.  I believe we all come from the same source—star stuff, if you will—to which we all return.  It’s not a personal thing.

   I don’t submit any answer to the Great Mysteryof where all this originally came from…nor do I believe can anyone else.  Life is one aspect of universal existence.  Individual consciousness is one of the most fleeting and perhaps the greatest of illusions.  But nevertheless, this is where we live. more…

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Progressives and Parasites…

There are two kinds of justice in America.  There’s the ideal version, whose proponents believe that basic rights exist and innocence counts for something.

Then there’s the conservative, “technical” version.  For these adherents, there are no rights.  People have to earn what they get, and whatever they do get is what they deserve.

Kevin Cooper lives in the latter version, albeit he would prefer the former.  He was convicted of murdering a white family of four back in ’83.  He’s scheduled to get the needle in a few months.

As far as conservative justices are concerned, he got his day in a California court, therefore he’s long overdue to pay for the crime.  However, there are 11 federal appellate judges who believe that Mr. Cooper is innocent.  In fact, they believe he was framed for the murder by the police! more…

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Justice & Innocence…

I recall one time when the supervisor of the education dept at FCI Ray Brook, Lake Placid, NY, asked me, “Are you claiming you’re innocent?”

   I was stumped for a moment.  The question was a non sequitur, out of the blue.  We had been discussing their withholding my grade-one pay at the prison factory for the requirement that I take a GED exam (I already had 3 yrs of university).

   After the first couple of yrs of my 25-yr sentence, I had ceased arguing my conviction.  What was the point? No one was listening, and the courts were not following their own law.  

   In my own experience, few prisoners claim innocence.  Their argument, like my own, was often some form of mitigated circumstance, mischarging, over-charging, dirty deals with snitches, and outright manipulation and manufacturing of evidence.

   “Actually,” I answered, “Yes.  Of the crime charged (membership in a certain cocaine conspiracy), I am innocent.”

   He startled the room by jumping up, clapping his hands, and gleefully laughing.  Reaching out to me, he said, “Let me shake your hand.  Every day for the past 16 yrs I’ve worked in the prison system, I’ve heard about convicts who claim that they’re innocent.  You’re the first one I’ve actually met!”  Clearly, he had a regular shtick… more…

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Innocent Prisoners…

“Excuse me, what did you just say?”

“I said I’m not guilty of the charge I was convicted of.”

“Wow, fantastic!  I’ve been in the prison system for 16 years and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard about there being ‘innocent’ inmates.  I’ve never actually met one.  Let me shake your hand.  This is a great opportunity!”

Despite the sarcasm, I assured the Supervisor of Education at that federal prison that there are indeed innocent prisoners…far too many of us.

Herbert Murray

Herbert Murray

A New York Times on-line video post this date (June 5th, 2010) is an excellent example of the “Innocent Prisoners Dilemma.”  For those with 11:13 minutes to view the Herbert Murray video, I’m sure you’ll find it compelling. more…