join together across the country and around the world for the wrongfully convicted and innocent. will you join in?
http://www.freedusty.org – I am personally asking everyone to join together across the country and around the world for the wrongfully convicted and actually innocent. Do you know any that is innocent? We need to make some change across the country for innocent men and women.
There isn’t anything currently that I have lacked the courage to take action on, so I decided to head over to Change.org to check out some petitions and see if anything fired up my sense of justice.
I noticed immediately that a petition I had signed had actually been successful and the young man who was wrongfully convicted of murder was freed from prison in early November.
- TONIGHT: On Thursday, December 5 at 9 p.m., CNN Films will premiere An Unreal Dream:The Michael Morton Story, a documentary about Texas exoneree Michael Morton. The film details how, with help from the Innocence Project, Morton proved his innocence and started his life over.
Complete coverage on
CNN Films: An Unreal Dream
please, use this link to watch Video there!
American Alan Gross Imprisoned in Cuba Since 2009, Begs Obama for Help
An American contractor who has been imprisoned in Cuba since 2009 is now begging President Obama for help.
Alan Gross, 64, a former subcontractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development, has spent the last four years in a small military prison in Cuba.
Now, Gross fears the U.S. government has abandoned him, and even wrote a letter pleading for President Obama’s help.
“With the utmost respect, Mr. President, I fear that my government — the very government I was serving when I began this nightmare — has abandoned me,” wrote Gross, according to CNN. “Officials in your administration have expressed sympathy and called for my unconditional release, and I very much appreciate that. But it has not brought me home.”
Gross (pictured) was arrested on Dec. 3, 2009, for illegally smuggling satellite communication equipment and distributing it to Cuba’s Jewish community, according to NBC News. Gross reportedly claims that he was only attempting to increase Internet access in Cuba.
After a brief trial in 2011, Gross was sentenced to 15 years for crimes “against the independence and territorial integrity of the state,” and has remained in a Cuban prison cell ever since.
His wife, Judy Gross, told CNN’s “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer” that she is frustrated with the government’s empty promises to release her husband.
“It’s emotional,” she said Tuesday. “… It causes me a lot of anger. I have to say right now I’m angry at the U.S. government. I’m angry at the Cuban government. I’m totally frustrated for this lack of action, that Alan is still in the same situation that he was four years ago.”
According to NBC News, Cuban government officials have said they are willing to negotiate Gross’ release under the condition that the U.S. government release four Cubans convicted of spying who are now being held in U.S. prisons.
Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday that Gross’s imprisonment is currently under discussion.
“We will do everything we can and will continue to, but these things are often best resolved in quiet diplomacy, under the radar screen, behind the scenes, and that is exactly what we have been pursuing,” Kerry told CNN.
Jeffrey Misanskey, Now Age 60, Serves Life Term For Nonviolent Pot Offense 20 Years Ago
“We were gonna fight it, but to fight it, it takes a lot of money,” says Jeffrey Mizanskey, from the Missouri prison where he is serving a life sentence. “If you ain’t got money, you can’t fight it.”
Mizanskey was referring to one of his three convictions for marijuana offenses, but he could have been talking about the justice system as a whole. What other explanation is there for a system that puts a hard-working family man in prison for life without even hope of parole — all for a minor crime involving a substance that these days, 20 years after Mizanskey’s third and final conviction, is not even fully illegal in 21 of the 50 U.S. states?
The former owner of a small construction business is now the only nonviolent offender doing life Missouri’s prison system.
According to the St. Louis paper Riverfront Times, Mizanskey got busted in 1993 in a Sedalia, Mo., motel room, the unwitting victim of a police sting operation.
There is no doubt that the then-40-year-old father of two made a questionable decision. He accompanied a local pot dealer to that Super 8 Motel to make a buy. In the course of the transaction, Misanskey handled a single brick of marijuana that weighed a few pounds.
Misanskey has always maintained that he didn’t know that the purpose of the motel room meeting was to purchase contraband marijuana. He thought that his friend Atilano Quintana, the dealer, was meeting with movers to talk about getting his sister’s furniture to her new home in New Mexico.
In any event, Quintana made the buy and was immediately arrested by cops who had the motel room under surveillance. The two sellers, it turned out, were drug mules cooperating with police to save their own skins.
One of the two cooperators spent a year in county jail while the other got off scot-free. Quintana, the man who police were actually after, served a 10-year sentence.
Misanskey was sentenced to life without parole —effectively, a long, drawn-out death sentence.
The issue was that he had two prior offenses, both for possession of barely enough marijuana to constitute a felony in Missouri. Neither conviction resulted in prison time.
Misanskey worked construction and says that the pot helped him deal with fatigue and soreness after a hard day’s labor. His father was an alcoholic, so the idea of drinking repulsed him. Instead, he chose marijuana.
But under Missouri’s one-of-a-kind version of “three strikes,” even three nonviolent drug offenses trigger an automatic life sentence with no parole — a fact that, cruelly, Misanskey did not learn until he first applied for parole six years into his prison sentence. He was a model inmate so he thought parole would be a snap.
When he put in his application, the authorities essentially told him that he would die in prison.
“The attorney put down in there that I had life without the possibility of parole, and I said, ‘Well, that’s gotta be wrong. They didn’t tell me any of that,’” Mizanskey told the Riverfront Times. “When I got the letter back from the parole board, I was ruined. You get information like that — there’s not really a whole lot you can say about it. It’s the end of the world.”
Misanskey’s supporters and family in October petitioned Missouri’s Governor Jay Nixon, a Democrat, to set his sentence aside. He’s already done twice the time of his drug dealer friend who actually bought the marijuana in that motel room, almost exactly 20 years ago.
So far, there has been no word back from the governor’s office.
By Ricardo Cortés New York, NY, USA
November 26, 2013
Who are the tens of thousands of people in New York City’s jails? Illustrator Ricardo Cortés, who runs art workshops at the Rikers Island detention complex, describes “cages” filled with those who can’t afford to post bail—disproportionately poor, black and brown, and often mentally ill.
Drawing of a Rikers Island detainee by Ricardo Cortés, who runs art workshops at the New York City detention complex.
On Rikers Island it is not fruitful to be angry. For the past year I’ve run art workshops for men and women who live here, in New York City’s largest detention complex. I’ve seen anger revealed in fits and bursts, but more often I marvel at how the people I meet simply accept being locked in a cage for the most precious months and years of their lives. When someone has a family and a future, right now is the most potent moment. And right now, there are around ten thousand people maintaining extraordinary calm, incarcerated on a small island just a stone’s throw from LaGuardia Airport.
Who are they, these kind, funny, depressed, angry, anxious, brilliant, bored, calm people? Or rather, why are they here? To start, drug-related charges constitute the most common reason people are admitted into the NYC Department of Correction. Rikers is a system of jails, not prisons—designed to detain people before and during trial, or for sentences of under a year—but it’s worth noting that drug offenders also constituted the largest proportion of prison admissions nationwide in every year between 1998 and 2010. So, before landing behind bars, before shackles and before punitive segregation, many of these people were using heroin. They were selling weed. And often their skin is brown, since blacks and Latinos are sentenced for drug offenses more harshly than whites, notwithstanding similar levels of drug use.
Cortés: “I bring art materials that are otherwise contraband, such as colored pencils and markers, along with paper and coloring book pages the detainees use to write letters home, make birthday cards or simply draw with to meditate.”
Of course, race and class deeply inflect the makeup of New York City’s jails. Although the city’s total population is 23 percent black, 29 percent Hispanic and 33 percent white, the incarcerated population is 57 percent black, 33 percent Hispanic and 7 percent white. Poverty is not only a hidden root of mass incarceration; it is also a concrete factor that makes the difference between who posts bail and who languishes in jail. Three quarters of individuals incarcerated in the New York City jail system have not been convicted of the crime of which they stand accused. Most of them are here because they can’t afford bail to go home and await trial. For every ten bails set at just $500, eight defendants will go to jail. The NYC Independent Budget Office estimates the annual cost of incarcerating pre-trial detainees unable to pay their bail at $125 million.
And we will pay. It costs $167,731 to keep one person jailed here for one year. To many inmates, this figure is stunning. It seems naive but completely reasonable to think if a fraction of that budget were allocated to an individual’s education, job training, housing or health care, it would solve many of the problems that lead to an arrest in the first place. There are notable exceptions, but Rikers feels less about solving problems than about temporarily containing them. Here, inmates wait, while we pay the rising costs of their guards, utilities, food and medical costs.
Women often ask for images of cartoon characters for their kids and grandchildren.
Medical costs? Despite their costliness, jails have also become surrogate mental health institutions. According to the Department of Correction, one in three residents of NYC jails has some form of mental illness. Nationwide, more than half of all prison and jail inmates have mental health issues and 60–75 percent of youth in the juvenile justice system meet criteria for at least one mental health disorder. In the past several years, federal and state budget cuts have significantly depleted mental health services. Their replacements are inappropriate, traumatizing environments for traumatized people. A recent study of male Pennsylvania inmates found 85 percent reported being a victim of a past crime-related event, such as robbery or home invasion; more than three quarters had been physically or sexually abused. “There’s no more expensive way to treat mental illness, but it’s what we do,” says Glenn Martin, executive director of the Fortune Society, which runs a mental health clinic giving treatment to recently released Rikers inmates.
If you’re interested in issues of incarceration, you’ve read these same observations year after year. Simply put, jail sucks. Do we need it? The abolition of prisons was too radical to imagine when I first heard the idea. Now I entertain it. Of course, detainment has some utility. Some people are so violent and dangerous that we should hold them for our protection (and theirs). And I’ve met others whose arrest also stopped a downward spiral in their lives that could likely have ended in death. But instead of paying for incarceration to stop—or most likely pause—these behaviors and cumulative offenses, wouldn’t it be better to invest in infrastructure and services that might mitigate their eruption? Since preemptive and therapeutic care is often less expensive than the criminal justice system, our punitive path is stuck in an especially uncreative loop.
In the workshops, we draw together, and after a few requests, I began to draw them.
The grossest irony is that increasing levels of imprisonment may exacerbate the very problems it is intended to solve. Imagine a drug-dealer, a check forger, a prostitute or a burglar who comes to Rikers. They’re often leaving family behind, possibly as the primary breadwinner, breaking up a critical support network and causing measurable damage to spouses, siblings, parents and especially children. They’re losing a job during their incarceration, thus falling further behind in bills, rent, and ultimately housing. They’re being released after their stay with little treatment or prospects for a new job; their completed sentence may stain their record such that it’s even harder to find employment. And they’re back on the street with the same personal struggles of addiction, domestic abuse, health issues and difficulty in finding sustainable housing and legal employment. It’s not hard to guess what happens next.
Counterintuitively, when incarceration is concentrated in an area, local crime rates actually increase, according to scholars like Todd Clear, Dean of the School of Criminal Justice at Rutgers University. The escalated removal of people from a community for antisocial behavior has exactly the opposite of its intended effect: it destabilizes the community, further reducing public safety and often creating “Million Dollar Blocks.” In many neighborhoods, the pipeline to jail or prison is so intense that states are spending in excess of a million dollars a year to detain the residents of a single city block. In 2003, two blocks in the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn accounted for $4.4 million in incarceration costs. The mass export of people from these communities not only affects individuals but it is also felt by the remaining population already teetering between the hustle and survival.
Young men have requested images of “love shit, hearts,” “Mickey Mouse and his girl,” and “you know, that dog and the spaghetti.”
Increasingly tenacious incarceration has been the United States’ main approach to dealing with criminal activities for the past three decades. Yet it is debatable whether this frightening reduction of the free population has had a significant impact on crime. The assumed logic of tougher sentencing is that the more people are locked up, the fewer are left on the streets to commit crimes. But the strategy of incarceration has reached a tipping point where it loses its potency as a means of crime prevention and simply becomes a failed societal norm—even a rite of passage. Every day new babies are born and new teenagers find their way to these cages. Every day the cycle repeats.
It’s perplexing why so many bristle at the idea of giving someone $25,000 in food or housing assistance, but raise no ruckus and provoke no national dialogue when we pay over $150,000 to feed and store that individual behind bars. Many people I speak with at Rikers have other family members, often a parent, with a history of incarceration. Either these prisoners have a genetic proclivity to crime (that is, to crimes that raise eyebrows from law enforcement officials, as there are very few white collar criminals here) or they have lived in social environments that severely limit their capacity to succeed—or even survive. It seems only fair that, to those whom we would punish, we first offer a reasonable chance to “make it.”
to see more portraits from Ricardo Cortés’s Rikers Island series, click here. THANK YOU!
By Allison Geller, Tue, December 03, 2013
Woodstock, Ill. police officer Sgt. Charles "Chip" Amati is under investigation for using police resources to search his girlfriend’s criminal record and sending her 12-year-old daughter racy text messages.
The Chicago Tribune obtained copies of text messages Amati sent his girlfriend’s daughter. In one, Amati wrote, "Send me some sexy pictures!" with an emoticon heart.
Michigan Mother Cile Precetaj, Who Came Into U.S. Illegally In 2000, Gets 24-Hour Notice To Leave The Country
A mother of three in Michigan has refused her deportation order after reportedly getting one day of notice that she had to leave the country.
Mail Online reports that immigration officials gave 40-year-old Cile Precetaj 24 hours to leave the country despite having no criminal convictions, a husband who has lived here for decades and three U.S.-born children.
The 40-year-old Precetaj came to the U.S. through Canada back in 2000, amid fears that if she stayed in Albania she would be kidnapped and sold into prostitution. She immediately turned herself in and sought asylum.
While in the U.S., she got married to a man who was born in Yugoslavia but moved here 40 years ago. The couple have three kids who are now 11, 6 and 4 years old and are all United States citizens.
Precetaj’s case for political asylum was rejected after a judge said her testimony about fearing the prostitution trade lacked credibility. He said even if her concerns were warranted “young, attractive women are not a social group for asylum,” according to Mail Online. When she lost her appeal, a deportation order was given.
“There is a level of insanity in this case,” Precetaj’s attorney Andrew Johnson told the newspaper as he continues the effort to allow her to stay with her husband and children. “Someone is not doing what is ordinarily done. There is an abuse of power.”
WXYZ reached out to a representative from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and was given the following statement:
ICE is presently conducting a review of Ms. Precetaj’s case, therefore her removal is not imminent at this time.
It’s estimated that around half of a million people are living in the U.S. with a deportation order, but U.S. Immigrations Customs and Enforcement only acts on a portion of cases, and the Obama administration specifically said targeting people with criminal convictions was the priority.