June 26th, 2016
In a sentencing hearing weeks after the trial, Judge Arthur Brennan sentenced MacRae to a term of 67 years in prison – more than thirty times the two-year maximum sentence proposed to MacRae pre-trial, deals that the priest rejected citing his innocence of the charges. During the sentencing phase, he was not permitted to say a single word in his own defense while the Judge berated him for observing his Constitutional right to a jury trial.
When sentencing MacRae, Judge Arthur Brennan offered some evidence and testimony of his own: “This court has heard clear and convincing evidence that you created child pornography of your victims.” In the entire trial, not a single word about child pornography was ever raised. Eleven years later, the lead detective in the case admitted to Dorothy Rabinowitz of The Wall Street Journal, “There was never any evidence of pornography.”
Read the post by Ryan MacDonald in These Stone Walls.
June 22nd, 2016
The criminal justice system has immense influence on an ex-offender’s ability to work, live, and interact post-release. Treating all sex offenders as one, rather than treating them as individuals therapeutically and programmatically, makes no sense, especially if we are interested in reducing risk, improving lives, and saving money.
Read the article by Doug Ryan in Rooflines.
June 20th, 2016
“The fact is that we have no idea of who is going to offend or re-offend,” said Professor Heather Ellis Cucolo—an attorney, adjunct professor, and director of New York Law School’s Online Mental Disability Law Program. “The ironic part of all this is that some of the factors that might potentially lead to a greater risk [of re-offense] are the factors that are imposed as a result of registration and notification.”
Read the article by Jessica DaSilva in the Criminal Law Reporter.
June 19th, 2016
“When we as a community reprimand or condemn a judge for engaging in such a holistic analysis and for exercising discretion, such efforts can have a chilling effect on judicial courage and compassion,” the letter states. Punishing him, the defenders explain, will “deter other judges from extending mercy and instead encourage them to issue unfairly harsh sentences for fear of reprisal.” The Santa Clara County Bar Association has also released a statement saying that removing Persky would be a “threat to judicial independence.”
Read the article by Maurice Chammah at the Marshall Project.
May 19th, 2016
Alexandra Natapoff, a law professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles and the nation’s leading expert on the use of snitches, said the fact that Orange County officials engaged in unconstitutional behavior similar to what made headlines years earlier in Los Angeles County reveals the “entrenched” nature of the practice of using snitches in questionable ways. “We see it from the outside as a scandal that should not be repeated. But apparently Orange County officials didn’t see it that way,” she said. “They saw it as business as usual.”
Read the article in The Intercept by Jordan Smith.
May 11th, 2016
I received the following message from a prisoner:
My name is Jennifer. I am 36 years old and I have experienced Parental Alienation Syndrome in soul crushing depth. As a result, I am now and have been a childless mother, sentenced to prison going on five years now. For years I have fought to be heard, and now that my children have come forth with the truth, I find it devastating that nothing has changed. My life’s passion is to use this situation to hopefully prevent other children from being brainwashed, used and cast aside like my children were.
I offer my full and honest disclosure as well as access to my case file containing brutal accusations followed by my children’s recantation (which I am trying to get transcripted) and my recent polygraph (which I passed and am trying to get a copy from the prison).
I am asking for help getting my voice heard and for finding a way to help my family as well as the families of others.
Jennifer wants people to correspond with. If you would like to write to her, email me at email@example.com and I will give you her full name and address.
May 2nd, 2016
“The doors to Gunther’s classroom were solid, but windows were installed so that people in the hallway could see into the room. The doors were never locked, and were often propped open. There were mirrors on three of the classroom walls. Children and parents came and went in and out of the classroom while classes were going on. Some parents watched while sitting on chairs inside the room. Others would watch through the windows.
“On May 20, 2000 Gunther Fiek got married. Life was good. But six months later, a panic-driven witchhunt would devastate his promising young life and the lives of those he loves.”
Of the many cases I’ve been involved with, few have bothered me as much as that of Gunther Fiek. Gunther was a popular and successful Taekwondo instructor who worked with over 2,000 kids. His life was destroyed late in 2000 by a false accusation of sexual abuse, followed by a panic in which more accusations were manufactured by improper interviewing techniques. In October 2001, he was sentenced to 90 years without the possibility of parole.
For more information, follow this link.
Gunther’s family is not wealthy and they are unable to pay for the kind of legal help he needs. The Georgia Innocence Project only handles DNA cases and I have been unable to find another Innocence Project to look into this. I know a first-rate private investigator who will work for an affordable fee, but if he uncovers new evidence there will be no way to pursue it unless a good lawyer can be hired.
If anyone out there has any idea of how we might proceed by contacting me via the NCRJ: http://ncrj.org/feedback-form/. Perhaps a journalist could look into this case. To my knowledge, nothing decent has ever been written about it.
April 25th, 2016
“In the file of worst possible things that could happen to you, being falsely accused of sexually abusing young children, and then convicted and imprisoned for over a decade, is probably close to the top of the pile.
“This is the hell that was dealt out to a few dozen Americans in the great Satanic sexual abuse panic that burned its way across the nation in the 1980s and 90s. Rumors and media fervor, followed by wild and often impossible accusations from little children, methodically coaxed out by bogus experts, sent childcare employees and others to prison all over the United States. From the McMartin family’s preschool in Los Angeles—the longest criminal trial in US history at the time, which ended with nearly all charges dropped—to the saga of the Amirault family’s day-care center in Malden, Massachusetts, where prosecutors said about 40 kids were “tied to trees, sexually penetrated with knives, and tortured by a ‘bad clown’ in a “secret room,'” it was a dark time.”
Read the article by Chase Madar in Vice.
Readers can contact Bexar County Criminal District Attorney Nico LaHood at 210 335 2311 to politely but firmly request a full exoneration.
April 20th, 2016
Here are some things you can do right now to help them find justice.
April 16th, 2016
“What makes Southwest of Salem even more extraordinary is that it is Esquenazi’s first feature film. The Austin resident uses a sure hand to guide the viewer through a complicated narrative, laying out the facts while still deftly conveying the intense emotion behind a story in which many lives were damaged. It’s a tale that at times feels all too familiar to people who follow the twists of the Texas justice system—just how easily a case can spiral out of control when people get crazy ideas in their heads and the law plays along.”
Read the article by Michael Hall in Texas Monthly.