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Look At The Evidence In Ajay Dev Case

Seven years ago, Ajay Dev was wrongfully convicted in Yolo County and sentenced to 378 years for a crime that many know he did not commit.  There have been hundreds of people that have marched to proclaim his innocence.  All those that have looked at all the evidence thoroughly realize what a tragedy this wrongful conviction is. For seven long years, Ajay has been awaiting the appellate court to review his wrongful conviction and fix this horrible injustice.

We hear that our justice system is the best in the world, and I honestly believed that before I witnessed how the Yolo County Justice System failed Ajay Dev.  We witnessed the prosecutor act shamefully.  He did not care about justice—he just wanted to win the case.  He spent much of his energy keeping evidence away from the jury that would show Ajay’s innocence and made up a stories to bolster his weak case.

On October 19th the appellate court will hear oral arguments for Ajay’s appeal.  I truly hope that the appellate court will fix this tragedy and right the wrong done by the Yolo County Justice System.  The sad thing is that our justice system takes way too long to fix mistakes—the average is between 15-20 years.  Can you imagine spending 15-20 years in jail for a crime you did not commit and unable to hold or touch your children. 
If ever you are asked to be a juror, please realize that both sides have their own agendas so just look at only the evidence (and realize that sometimes some evidence will not be shown to you).  Don’t believe that the lawyers in the room are trying to find the truth and do justice. Realize that they may say anything to win.

This letter was originally published in The Davis Vanguard Court Watch.

 by Patty Pursell

Prosecutors Try To Undermine Justice Reform

Federal prosecutors are trying to block congress from real justice reform. They claim that changing the mandatory minimum sentencing laws will "undermine the ability of law enforcement officials to dismantle drug trafficking organizations. Real reform will not happen until sentencing laws are changed.

Click here to read the full article in AlterNet.

Regulating Prison Phone Calls

The Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 on Thursday to cap the rates and fees that companies can charge for phone service in prisons and jails.

Click here to read more about the reform in the Huffington Post.

Major Overhaul For Justice System

The heads of the Los Angeles Police Department and the New York City Police Department along with 130 officials from all 50 states are pushing for four broad policy goals: alternatives to incarceration, balance in the application of laws, mandatory-minimum sentence reform, and stronger ties with the communities they serve. 

Click here to read the article in Mother Jones.

Mine Resistant Vehicles Used For Drug Busts

Mother Jones has a very interesting article regarding the militarization of our local police forces. Their magazine obtained more than 450 local requests for mine resistant ambush protected vehicle, or MRAP. Their analysis of the documents showed that the most common use of these combat vehicles was for use during drug arrests. 


Click here to read the article in Mother Jones.

Unequal Justice For Some

A new prison system in Southern California is called "pay-to-stay". A wealthy family was able to upgrade their son's 2-year prison stay at cost of $72,000. According to Peter Eliasberg, legal director for the ACLU of Southern California, “What a terrible idea. What a slap in the face for the concept of equal justice for all. If it’s a public service — that should be offered to everyone regardless of their ability to pay.”

Click here to read the story inAlterNet

Judges Dialing For Donations

Here is an interesting and personal accounting by Judge Sue Cobb on why judges should not be publicly elected. Here is a quote from this very telling narrative, "I was mortified. And while I was proud of the work I did for the next 4 1/2 years, I never quite got over the feeling of being trapped inside a system whose very structure left me feeling disgusted. I assure you: I’ve never made a decision in a case in which I sided with a party because of a campaign donation. But those of us seeking judicial office sometimes find ourselves doing things that feel awfully unsavory."

Click here to read the interesting account in Politico.

Is Legal Reform Possible?

Reforming the legal system has brought together a coalition of people normally at odds with each other. Recently on Capitol Hill, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Koch Industries general counsel Mark Holden, have made legal reform a priority. They hope to have a bipartisan agreement to change 5 key factors in the legal system. 

1. Earned time credits

2. Easing Mandatory Minimum Sentencing

3. Juvenile Justice Reform

4. Reducing recidivism

5. Sealing and expunging records


Click here to read more about the reforms. 

Wisconsin Changes Investigations In Officer Involved Shootings

The state of Wisconsin has decided the police cannot investigate one of their own in an officer involved shooting. To quote Gina Barton, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's law enforcement reporter, "So if you know this officer, if you've worked with him before, can you really be objective in terms of evaluating that shooting? And is it really proper for the police to be policing themselves?" 

The law makes Wisconsin the first state to legislate "that if an officer was involved with a loss of life, that outside investigators must come in and collect the data and investigate that shooting".

Click here to read the article.

California Voters Approve Prop 47

Tuesday, November 4, 2014 voters in California approved Proposition 47. This means that nonviolent offenses will now be deemed misdemeanors instead of felonies. About 10,000 people currently incarcerated for things like shoplifting and drug possession could be eligible for early release from prison. The passage of Prop 47 will help California conform with the 2011 Supreme Court order on relieving overcrowded prisons.

Click here to read about more  of the benefits of Prop 47 in The Huffington Post.

Prison Reform in California

Prison reform has begun in California:

The California Fair Sentencing Act makes certain that people who are convicted of certain offenses involving crack cocaine will no longer receive harsher punishments than people found guilty of the same crimes involving powder cocaine.

California has also passed SB 1135 to stop forced and unwanted sterilization of women prisoners.

Click here to read the Mother Jones article on Sentencing Reform in California.

Click here to read the Huffington Post article on Reforming Prisoner Sterilization

Corporations Divesting From Prison Industry

The civil rights non-profit group, Color of Change, has been asking over 150 companies to divest from Corrections Corporation of America and GEO Group, two of the largest for- profit prison companies. Scopia Capital Management, DSM North America, and Amica Mutual Insurance have finally agreed to remove $60 million in investments from these two companies.

For more on the divestment of private prisons, click here.

Sentencing Reform Equals Less Crime

According to a report released by the advocacy group, The Sentencing Project lenient sentencing does not increase crime. The report uses the examples of New York, New Jersey and California to show that moving toward more lenient punishments for non-violent offenders is linked to lower rates of both violent crime and property crime. These states reduced their prison populations by an average of 25% and saw crime drop between 26- 30% when the state average during the same time period increased by 10%.  

Click here to read the study. 

Where Is the Reform?

The US Supreme Court, in 2012, ruled juveniles under the age of 18 could not be sentenced to mandatory life sentences. Unfortunately, two years later only 13 of the 28 states using the life sentence have changed their laws. Many of the states that did change their laws still continue to sentence juveniles to long sentences before allowing any chance of parole. Studies show that juveniles committing crimes, even homicide, can be rehabilitated into society showing how unjust these sentences are.

Click here to read the article in the Guardian.

Private Prison Reform

The largest private prison in Idaho will be taken over by the state due to a decade of mismanagement by Corrections Corporation of America, a private company from Nashville, Tennessee. 

Click here to read the article.

Federal Prison Crisis

The federal prison system has been determined to be an "increasingly critical threat" according to the inspector general of the Justice Department. In a report released by the Justice Department the costs of overcrowded prisons continue to soar, grabbing an increasing portion of the budget. Michael Horowitz, the DOJ inspector general states "In the current era of flat or declining budgets, the continued growth of the prison system budget poses a threat to the Department’s other critical programs – including those designed to protect national security, enforce criminal laws, and defend civil rights."

Click here to read more.

Reporter's Unbiased Look Aids In Exoneration

The wrongfully accused need all the help they can get so, when reporter Erin Moriarty of "48 Hours" felt the evidence didn't add up in the Ryan Ferguson case it gave his case the national attention and scrutiny that most innocent inmates rarely have. Ryan credits Erin Moriarty for looking at the case from an unbiased view, something that usually isn't done before, during or after trials. Maybe this is a type of reform that's needed.

Click here to watch an interview with Ryan talking about the importance of unbiased eyes.

Yelp Used To Rate Prisons

Prisoners are turning to the online review site Yelp to rate prisons and speak out about the treatment they are receiving in them. The reviews cover complaints ranging from food quality to abuse. Yelp reviews give prisoners, family members and lawyers a way to speak out anonymously without fear of retaliation.

Click here to read the story in AlterNet.

Stanford 3 Strikes Project

Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone Magazine has a wonderful post on his blog about Stanford's 3 Strikes Project and some of the people behind it. 

Click here to read Matt Taibbi's article.

Click here to find out more about Stanford's The 3 Strikes Project.

18 States Now Outlaw Death Penalty

Maryland will become the 18th state to outlaw the death penalty. After the  House voted 82-56, Governor O’Malley told reporters that the ban validates a “core belief that we share in the dignity of every human being.” He also stated through Twitter that “Overwhelming evidence tells us that the death penalty does not work. Especially in tough times, if a public policy is expensive and does not work, then we should stop doing it.”

Click here to read the article.

Reforming Drug Laws

Is the end to federal "mandatory minimum" sentencing for drug offenders finally on the way. Law makers are hoping a bipartisan effort can be made to regulate marijuana the same way the government regulates alcohol. The momentum to change ineffective drug policy from the past 40 years is building.

Click here to read the article.