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Articles about Wrongful Convictions

Florida Jury Awards $225,000 in False Arrest/Malicious Prosecution Claim

A Florida jury has awarded $225,000 in a case against the City of Clearwater and an individual detective on a claim of false arrest, malicious prosecution, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The Plaintiff claimed he was falsely arrested on child molestation charges and the prosecution was continued by the ...

Texas Jails Troubled by Deaths, Negligence and Failed Inspections

For decades Texas jails have been cesspool's of misery, medical neglect, brutality and over crowding. Class action litigation in the 1970's alleviated some of the worst aspects of the Texas jail system and led to modest improvements. By the late 1990's the jail consent decrees and injunctions had been removed thanks to the Prison Litigation Reform Act. Within a few short years, Texas jails had reverted to their old ways.
Dallas County Jail has done it again. Less than a year after the James Mims debacle, which left the mentally retarded man without water for 11 days, Dallas jailers again deprived another prisoner of water for 4 days.
Gil Martinez, 30, was arrested for misdemeanor trespassing. Mr. Martinez, who has mental health problems, plugged up his toilet and flooded his cell to get attention. Jailers responded by shutting off the water.

According to Sgt. Peritz, the water in Martinez' cell was turned off on August 3, 2005 and no one noticed, until August 7, that it had not been turned back on. Policy implemented following the Mims incident requires that both a supervisor and the jail commander be notified before a prisoner's water is turned off. The jail commander ultimately ...

New Jersey Parole Officials Pay $50,000 for Delayed Release

On February 3, 2005, a New Jersey man settled his federal lawsuit against state parole officialswhom he claimed were responsible for his remaining in prison 11 months beyond his approved parole datefor $50,000.

Vincent Pannone was imprisoned on May 7, 1999, for theft by deception and credit card fraud. He ...

No Qualified Immunity from 57-Day Illegal Confinement

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals held that several prison officials were not entitled to qualified immunity for their roles in confining a prisoner 57 days beyond his ordered release.

In December, 1977, Daryl Davis was convicted of theft under Missouri law. He was then sentenced as a prior offender, to seven years in the custody of the Missouri Department ofaCorrections (MDOC).

In March, 1999, the Missouri Court of Appeals reversed Davis's conviction and granted a new trial. On remand, Davis entered an Alford plea and was sentenced to one year, with credit for time served. Since he had already served approximately 18 months, the court ordered his immediate release.
Despite the judge's order that Davis was to be released immediately, county officials placed Davis back into county jail to await transport back to" the MDOC. He was transferred four days later.

After returning to [prison], Davis repeatedly protested his continued incarceration but was ignored, met by indifference, or admonished for refusing to accept responsibility for his crime." Prison officials failed to check records or asked that Davis produce his Judgment and Sentence Order. Rather, they scolded that Davis for his criminal thinking' in continuing to demand release." He was ...

Maryland Prisons MisCalculate Half of All Prisoner Release Dates

by David M. Reutter

Up to one half of all Maryland prisoners early release dates at two prisons were erroneous, concluded a report by the Maryland Office of Legislative Audits. The report declined to identify the two prisons it audited, as it felt the problems exposed are system wide.
The Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services-Division of Corrections (DOC) oversees the State's 23 prisons. According to DOC records, approximately 23,000 prisoners were incarcerated during fiscal year 2004.

To influence cooperation and promote positive behavior by its prisoners, Maryland law offers a carrot in the form of diminuation credits, which provides a mechanism to release prisoners prior to the expiration of their full sentence. Prisoners earnings such credits are placed on mandatory supervision for oversight and monitoring by the Maryland Parole Commission until the expiration of the full-term of their sentence.

Maryland law permits prisoners to earn up to 20 days of diminuation credits a month. Those credits fall under four broad categories:

" Good Conduct CreditsAllows up to 10 days credit per month for following DOC behavioral guidelines.

" Work Task CreditsPrisoners can receive up to 5 days a month for satisfactory performance in approved work programs.

" ...

$97,000 in Damages and Fees Awarded in Arkansas Over Detention Suit

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed a judgment awarding compensatory damages of $50,000 in a civil rights suit filed by James M. Hayes, alleging his 38-day pre-appearance detention violated his right to due process. The Court further held that the attorney fee award of $47,000 was not an ...

Lives (and Votes) Lost

From City Belt (

Lives (and Votes) Lost

Prisoners, parolees and probationers cannot vote in New Jersey -- but for
one former prisoner who was wrongfully convicted and can, it's the last
thing on his mind.

By Elizabeth Weill-Greenberg

Nothing ties Larry Peterson to the rape and murder of Jacqueline Harrison
but the stubborn say-so of the Burlington County prosecutor's office. Their
obstinance makes sense when you consider that Peterson is planning a civil
suit and demanding an investigation into those responsible for his wrongful
conviction and 17 years in prison.

They took one lie after another and just built a case on that, said
Peterson. "Being a poor black man, or anyone that's poor, and can't defend
himself because you don't have money to obtain a good attorney -- you up
the creek. So I got jacked up."

On Aug. 24, 1987 Harrison was found strangled on a dirt road in Burlington
County. Harrison's best friend and ex-boyfriend told prosecutors Peterson
had scratches on his arms.

After learning he was a suspect, Peterson went to police to declare his
innocence. He was charged with capital murder and sexual assault -- in
March 1989 he was convicted.

In July 2005 ...

Hawaii Settles Class Action Wrongful Imprisonment Suit for $1.2 Million

The state of Hawaii has agreed to pay $1.2 million to settle a class action federal lawsuit involving hundreds of wrongfully imprisoned individuals. The state also agreed to implement measures ensuring the timely release of prisoners.

The lawsuit, brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 by the American Civil Liberties Union ...

Los Angeles County Settles Parolee's Overdetention Suit For $80,000

Los Angeles County paid $80,000 to settle a California parolee's
overdetention suit that alleged failure to process release information for one week.

On June 4, 2001, William Green was arrested by his parole agent on a violation for failing to register as a sex offender. On July 6, 2001, he ...

Louisiana Prison Writer Free After 44 Years

Award-winning prison journalist and civil rights figure Wilbert Rideau, once described as “the most rehabilitated prisoner in America,” is free after spending more than four decades behind bars. Ironically, Rideau’s freedom came not from being exonerated, but from being found guilty a fourth time.

Rideau was a 19-year-old, virtually illiterate, eighth-grade dropout when he robbed a Lake Charles bank on February 16, 1961. After collecting $14,079 in cash, Rideau, who is black, kidnapped three white employees and drove them to a bayou on the edge of town. There he shot teller Julia Ferguson, then stabbed her through the heart with a hunting knife. Rideau also shot the other hostages and left them for dead, but they survived. Caught just 80 minutes later, Rideau would spend the next 44 years in some of Louisiana’s most brutal prisons.

Rideau was sentenced to die for Ferguson’s murder in April 1961. It was the first of three death sentences to be imposed by juries comprised entirely of white men—the second came in 1964, the third in 1970. The U.S. Supreme Court overturned Rideau’s first conviction in 1963 because his confession had been broadcast repeatedly on local television before his trial. His second conviction was ...