JPC'S ANNUAL LUNCHEON
Please come and being a friend or colleague to:
Judicial Process Commission's (JPC's)
39th Annual Luncheon
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
12 noon-2 pm
Downtown United Presbyterian Church
121 N. Fitzhugh St. Rochester
2011 Founders' Award Recipient
Easton Thompson Kasperek Shiffrin, LLP
When Innocent People go to Prison:
"the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice"
Jane Coons, Volunteer and Board Member, JPC; Ed Johnson, Volunteer, JPC; Rasheema Renee Vick, Counselor, Rochester Correctional Facility
Outstanding Mentor Award
Veronica Sanders, Faith Community Adult Mentoring Project
Mail-in Registration Form
Send checks payable to Judicial Process Commission aat:
285 Ormond St., Rochester, NY 14605
Levels of support
Guest $30___ Supporter $50___ Sustainer $75 __
Sponsor $100 ___ Other ___
To be listed in the program, (Supporter and above level) please reply by May 18th with registration and prepayment.**
** I prefer not to be listed in the program___
JPC Finances - Need Your Help!!
Fred Schaeffer, Board President
Recently one of JPC's big funders discontinued last year's $25,000 contract with us for mentoring services. Also several local foundations have turned down our grant requests.
On the other hand, JPC appears to have been approved for a grant from NY SOARS. This is a new program, starting in June, but details are still unclear, including the dollar amount. We are in the process of applying for several more grants, and while we are confident that our proposals are strong, competition is fierce and success is not guaranteed.
Our most reliable source of income is from JPC individual supporters -- that is, from YOU!
*Mail us a check or contribute online now by clicking in the upper left corner of this email. We recently sent a letter to supporters asking for $5 or more from each person. The response has been encouraging, but we need everyone to send us a healthy donation.
* Purchase a ticket to our luncheon. See the article above.
Thank you for all of your support!
False Justice - a book review by Joel Freeman
False Justice by Jim and Nancy Petro, New York, Kaplan Publishing, 2010, 292 pages, $24.99
Prompted by his belief in the certainty of DNA, Jim Petro, during his tenure as Ohio's attorney general, advocated on behalf of Clarence Elkins, who was wrongly convicted of murder and rape. Petro became the first attorney general in America to publicly challenge a stubborn county prosecutor unwilling to accept the truth, and helped Elkins to be exonerated.
When Petro returned to private practice in 2007, he joined Ohio Innocence Project and several Ohio legislators seeking preservation of crime scene evidence for post-conviction DNA testing, improving procedures to assure the reliability of eyewitness testimony, electronic recording of custodial interrogations, and the procurement of DNA samples from people arrested for felonies.
Petro, who in recent years has volunteered his legal services on behalf of other wrongly convicted prisoners, believes there are thousands of innocent people in America's prisons, and we must do more to rectify this deplorable situation.
False Justice is dedicated to all innocent prisoners, particularly Dean Gillispie, who was convicted of rape and kidnapping 20 years ago, based solely on flawed photograph lineup identification by the victims. The original detectives on the case and the polygraph admilnistrator of the local police department believe that Gillispie is innocent. Exculpatory evidence was withheld by prosecutors. There is compelling evidence identifying the actual perpetrator. Petro has joined Gillispie's family, the Ohio Innocence Project, attorney Mark Godsey, private investigator Martin Yant, and the Dayton Daily News editorial board in their support for Gillispie's exoneration.
Here is a fast-paced, powerful and illuminating book that uses real-life accounts of injustice to provide a chilling insight into the human costs of imprisoning innocent people, and that charts a path for reform. Petro believes that "true justice is a search for truth, requiring constant vigilance and is ultimately the responsibility of every citizen." I agree.
What about our own state? Two years ago Jonathan Lippman, Chief Judge of the NYS Court of Appeals, appointed a Justice Task Force to study the problem of wrongful convictions in NY. "If we care about justice, we are absolutely duty-bound to search out and eliminate the systematic flaws that contribute to the arrest and conviction of innocent people," Lippman said.
Former State Senator Eric Schneiderman sponsored a bill that would allow judges to excuse past procedural errors and missed deadlines and to reverse convictions when the evidence, including non-DNA evidence, conclusively established actual innocence. Hopefully Schneiderman, now our attorney general, will continue his efforts to help assure the bill's passage. New York should also establish an impartial Innocence Commission to rectify miscarriages of justice after other appeals have been exhausted.
Judge Learned Hand wrote 90 years ago that "our procedure has always been haunted by the ghost of the innocent man convicted. It is an unreal dream." For innocent people in prison, the experience is a living nightmare.
| Woman Awaits Freedom after 17 years Behind Bars|
excerpts from an Associated Press article, Salt Lake City
In her dream, Debra Brown pedals out of a Utah prison on a powder blue bicycle, riding past razor wire that for the last 17 years has kept her from proms, graduations and the birth of seven grandchildren.
On May 9th that dream, minus the bicycle, became a reality as Brown became the first inmate exonerated under a 2008 Utah law that allows convictions to be reconsidered based on new factual--not scientific--evidence. More that 250 people since 1989 have been exonerated nationwide thanks to DNA testing.
In Brown's case, attorneys for the Salt Lake City-based Rocky Mountain Innocence Center took up the case nine years ago. A
judge finally agreed with what she had been saying all along--that her alibi put her elsewhere when the crime occured, even though she admitted forging checks belonging to the victim.
While the judge's ruling has declared Brown "factually innocent," exonerating her under state law, family members are still collectively holding their breath. "It's kind of surreal right now because this is something we've basically been dreaming about for the last 17 years, " son Ryan Buttars said. "I am just floating."
Her brother, David Scott, an Idaho farmer, said he has put off planting his tomato garden until his sister is there to help like old times. He has been urging her to start looking ahead to a new life. Katie Monroe, director of the Rocky Mountain Innocence Center, said her client has been a jumble of emotions since the ruling. Monroe called Brown's anticpated release "a very important public moment. When there's a miscarriage of justice, it's important the state correct it."
Brown's daughter Alana Williams, who was 11 when her mother was arrested, said that her mother wants to enjoy the little things of life--retreats to an old fishing hole and holding grandchildren who range in age from 16 months to 13 years. And of course she wants to ride that powder blue Raleigh cruiser. About three years ago, Brown told her brother about her dream and then mailed him a photo of the bike clipped from a magazine. He found one in Boise, Idaho and her daughter ordered from France the cute, white-plastic basket that her mother envisioned.
"The system failed her, but in the end it was the system that got her out," Scott said. "We're just hopeful this is it. We've had so many ups and downs, when we see her riding her bike out there....we'll know she's home."
The JUDICIAL PROCESS COMMISSION
285 Ormond Street
585-325-7727; www.rocjpc.org; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
We welcome your letters and Justicia article submissions by e-mail or postal mail.
The Judicial Process Commission envisions a society with true justice and equality for all.
We understand that in a just society, all institutions will be based on reconciliation and restoration,
instead of retribution and violence.
The JPC is a grassroots, nonprofit organization that challenges society to create a just,
nonviolent community which supports the right of all people to reach their fullest potential.
We do this by: providing support services for those involved in the criminal justice system; educating the public; advocating for changes in public policy.
Susan K. Porter, Executive Director, CEO
Mary Boite, Chair, Fundraising Committee; Meeting Convenor
Helen Cheves, Chair, Communications Committee
Jane Coons, Treasurer
Gail Mott, Secretary
Clare Regan (1927-2006), Editor emerita, Justicia
Fred Schaeffer, Chairperson
Suzanne Schnittman, Vice chairperson
Dorothy Siegel, Editor, Justicia
John Perry Smith
Cynthia Consaul, LCSW-R, Women's Reentry Project, Therapist
Jeanette Gartland Creighton, LMSW, CASAC, Women's Reentry Project, Therapist/ Case Manager
Mavis Egan, Client Navigator/Project Evaluator
John Mourning, FCAMP Outreach
Kamilah Richardson, Senior Service Coordinator
Valerie White-Whittick, Mentor Coordinator