Sunday, May 20, 2012

Alabama ranks 14th in false sex crime convictions

If you go by PER CAPITA (number of false convictions per 1000), Alabama actually ranks 10TH. A new exoneration registry spotlights a number of false convictions, with 80%+ the result of faulty "eyewitness testimony." I'm willing to bet many are also the result of prosecutorial misconduct, more than the 1/3 of cases known to be the result of official misconduct. Yet Alabama denies this is a serious problem.

Exoneration lists expose causes for wrong convictions in Jefferson County and across nation
Published: Sunday, May 20, 2012, 10:30 AM 

Five men from Jefferson County and 12 others convicted but later cleared in Alabama courts are listed on a new national exoneration registry designed to highlight the issue of wrongful convictions and explain why they happen.

The registry, compiled by the University of Michigan Law School and the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law, profiles 873 cases from January 1989 through February 2012. The registry will be made available to the public online starting Monday.

Each convicted defendant was later cleared through DNA, confession by the real criminal or other circumstances. Most involved murder and sexual assault cases.

The cases highlight the legal pitfalls that can lead to wrong convictions, said authors of a study based on the registry, Samuel Gross and Michael Shaffer.

"The more we learn about false convictions, the better we'll be at preventing them -- or if that fails, finding and correcting them as best we can after the fact," Gross said in a statement.

The study found that bad eyewitness testimony was a factor in 94 percent of the exonerations, either because a person mistakenly identified the defendant or lied to put him behind bars.

Alabama, with one federal and 16 state exonerations on the registry, ranked 14th nationally for total false convictions. Broken down per capita, Alabama ranked 10th nationally, according to the report.
But the study's authors said the numbers can be misleading, because states like Alabama, Illinois and Michigan with larger Death Row populations and organizations dedicated to ferret out wrongly-convicted people will be disproportionately represented.

Also, cases such as homicide and sexual assault, which often involve DNA evidence and result in longer sentences, are more likely to provide the means and time needed to prove the wrong person was convicted, the study found.

Nearly 6 in 10 of the people on the registry were cleared by DNA. It took an average of 12 years from conviction and 13 years from arrest for them to find justice, the study found.
Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange said he has confidence in the integrity of state criminal proceedings.

"The many safeguards in place provide sufficient opportunity to correct the very few errors that are made," he said in a statement. "Sixteen errors out of tens of thousands of convictions does not indicate a systemic problem but rather supports the high degree of accuracy in our proceedings."

High number

The study's authors concluded the actual number of wrong convictions is much higher.
Gross and Shaffer intentionally defined exoneration narrowly, only listing on the registry cases the authors identified in which a court, prosecutor, or governor found post-conviction evidence of innocence persuasive enough to drop the charge, release the defendant, order a new trial that resulted in acquittal or issue a pardon.

"It is clear that the exonerations we found are the tip of an iceberg," said Gross, a University of Michigan law professor and editor of the registry. "Most people who are falsely convicted are not exonerated; they serve their time or die in prison. And when they are exonerated, a lot of times it happens quietly."
More than 90 percent of the exonerated defendants are male. Half are black.

About 15 percent of the exonerations involved people who confessed to crimes they did not commit. Often these were juveniles or mentally-disabled defendants, the study found.
The study also found the main factors behind wrong convictions varied by crime:

Murder: Perjury or false accusations were found in nearly two-thirds of those exonerations. Official misconduct, from suggestive interview techniques to fabrication of evidence, also was found in more than half of those cases.

Adult sexual assaults: Mistaken witness identification was involved 80 percent of the time, and was especially prevalent when victim and defendant were different races. Nearly 4 in 10 cases also involved false or misleading forensic evidence.

Child sex abuse: The accuser most often made up the crime, the study found. Official misconduct also was found in more than one-third of the cases.

Many child-abuse exonerations stemmed from what the authors called the "hysteria cases" of the 1980s and 1990s. They included prosecutions such as the McMartin Preschool case in California in which several adults were charged with molesting dozens of children in what proved to be false accusations.

Robbery: Mistaken eyewitness identification was found in 80 percent of those exonerations.

Gross and Shaffer said the justice system needs to be more careful that mistakes are not made on the front end, and more open to genuine evidence of innocence post conviction. Alabama's attorney general, however, said the courts provide sufficient safeguards to correct genuine mistakes.

"The courts remain open to considering strong evidence of actual innocence," Strange said. "Oftentimes, post conviction courts are flooded with weak theories of innocence rather than actual evidence supporting innocence."

Jefferson County

Here are the cases of five men convicted in Jefferson County Circuit Court who are listed in a new national registry of exonerations:

Freddie Lee Gaines: Charged in a 1973 double homicide, he was acquitted in one death and convicted in the other. Gaines was released for good behavior after 11 years in prison. Five years later, in 1990, another man confessed to the crimes. Gaines received $1 million in state compensation, but was not pardoned until 2005.

Dale and Ronnie Mahan: Convicted of a 1984 kidnapping and rape, Dale was sentenced in Bessemer to 35 years and Ronnie received life without parole as a habitual offender. They were released after nearly 14 years when testing that was not available before trial showed they did not leave DNA found on the victim. She still maintained she was attacked by two men, but admitted she had sex with a man other than her husband earlier that day.

Louis Griffin: After his arrest on federal racketeering charges, the New York street gang member took credit for a 1992 drug-debt slaying in Birmingham. But when he and another man went on trial in Birmingham in 1997, Griffin said he made it all up to get a lighter sentence in his federal case. Both men were convicted, with Griffin getting a death sentence and the other man a life term. Griffin won a new trial in 2000 and was acquitted in 2001, but went to federal prison for the racketeering case.

Wesley Quick: Charged in the 1995 shooting deaths of two teens near Pinson, his first prosecution ended in mistrial due to juror misconduct. He was convicted and sentenced to death in 1997, but won a new trial and was acquitted in 2003. The trial judge then sentenced Quick to 76 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to three burglaries, including one in which the murder weapon was stolen.   


  1. I wrote Mrs. Corrine Brown today to tell her of my experience in the 60's with what is called the Street Sweeper Program used in the inner cities by some radical religious individuals who feel they just need to hurt someone because she is an avid proponent for the death penalty and pushes sex laws and over the years I completely understand what they want from these laws which is not just criminal but in fact is more than criminal, it’s an encroachment on human nature when people do what they can to seek a mate/date/Maslow's respected need called sex. What they did to me was throw me into a dumpster in the early evening and lock it. By morning when the dumpster was to be emptied as the trash truck came around the operator had the keys and by the time I was awake enough to respond to the situation I was being dumped into the garbage truck. Once in the truck there were other children in the truck already in fear for their lives as the compactor was becoming a problem as the truck filled through the route. There was a girl and two boys already in the truck and since there were some wooden planks and some carpet center rolls in the dumpster I was in we fashioned some struts to keep from being crushed inside the truck body. Now all this is documented at the land fill in Los Angeles California and the girl was actually thrown out by her parents she said and my parents never called the police so I do not know if they had anything to do with the situation or not but the people at the dump at the time were suspicious as to whether or not they knew. Our parents were call to pick us up at the landfill. At school one kid came up to me and said that one of the original Garbage Pail Kids cards were dedicated to me and showed me a card with a fat kid and a bunch of spaghetti on his face on the card and said that’s you. As a kid I was disappointed with the look but did not appreciate the card being a child wanting to look a bit better but now understand the honor given if what the other kid was saying was true but at least that is what I was told. The card is not as important as the documentation at the landfill which will show that we were in the back of that truck. There was also a huge Hog thrown out on a sofa that day Now from what I hear some people were released from jail that were said to have been the perpetrator of the crimes and if that is the case then some people use their children to create a stir in their community by calling the incidents like this one to community outrage when in fact its just some parents wanting to dispose of their children and get sympathy for doing so. True Story documented and verifiable. Please look into it because I am not making this up. Now this is a true statement and by now you know I am not a fabricator of lies and tell the truth. The facts are that I have been told by people (one such person is Larry Squires) who worked/works in the position of commissary inmate services that said that the people that put the money on the books of inmates that have had their children murdered have told him that the murder for hire of the child was in fact done for the parent of the child. Now I know this may sound difficult for you to except but this is what I have heard along with even much worse directed to some of these people that use these crimes to further their positions in government. Now if you don’t believe me ask Larry Squires. I am sure you can find him, he’s doing life in prison. This is an outrage the push for the death penalty and sex laws being used to forward an agenda to make legal the use of laws to perpetuate murder or life sentences for touching someone. caught.

  2. This is disgusting and criminal at least. Savageness of a people using ideology outdated beyond usefulness. See as a child I was in a program called MKULTRA and I remember being handcuffed to a steam radiator each day while my guardian would go to work. Each day the steam heat would come on and I could hear when that would happen because the pipes would start knocking in the walls. I would begin screaming for help but the door was locked and when my guardian would come home and beat me because I was making noise and disturbing the tenets. This is verifiable and there is so much more. I stood before the church committee after the Stanton Prison Project and I feel like this all boils down to premeditated murder having grown up in these situations where I would wake up in prominent women's and men’s homes as a child, on sets, elsewhere and when they needed to put me away they would just stick a needle in my neck. I can go on and tell of movies that were written this way but that is not as important as where these procedures come from. My mom tried to sue once after I was shot having been left in a sandbox bleeding but Dr. Glass just removed the lead from me at congress medical, gave me a cold soda and and 3 IV’s to moisten me back up and sent me home with my mom. She was blocked at all avenues and the reason I was there was I was being used as bait for pedofiles so realy this whole thing was designed before I was even born and now they are passing laws to murder people. I hope they all get caught. They are diagnosing dead men like Hitler, and Caligula to somehow justify their thinking, HA, when are we going to wake to the use of this farce?