Thursday, May 26, 2011

'Freedom Fighters'

Having worked now with the Innocence Project of Texas for the past two sessions, I've said several times what a humbling honor its been to work with the exonerees who've come down to the capitol over and over to lobby for criminal justice reforms. I can't over-emphasize how incredibly proud I am of these fellows, who didn't stop fighting when they got out of prison, or even when they received compensation, but kept on pressing to reform the system so the same thing wouldn't happen to others. The Texas Observer has a cover story by Michael May with the same title as this post featuring the core group that's been making it down this spring. Give it a read, and thank God before you go to bed tonight that you've never had to walk the long, hard road these fellows have traveled.


Audrey said...

They surely have been trained for the job (or volunteer work as it is). Isn't it something TDCJ is turning out experts on prison reform. When I listen to those men talk on news programs, or read their interviews, I am so impressed with their goodness, their perseverence and willingness to help others. Talk about men of honor. It gets one to thinking that Memorial Day should include honoring all those innocents who have died via execution or old age in our prisons. They are representives of an internal war for sure...the silent heros..and now we are honored with a few Freedom Fighters....a force all their own.

Anonymous said...

I think these men are living proof that people can change. They might not have been the most upright group before incarceration but their travails have set them on an honorable course. Would that the Parole Board could understand that people do bad things but they do not have to remain "bad" people and wither away behind bars.

Anonymous said...

These exonorees are better than I would be if I were in their shoes. Had I ever been falsely convicted, when and if I ever made it out, my actions would make 9/11 pale in contrast. I'd get as many of those responsible as possible. And if they were dead already, I'd pay a visit to their surviving family. It would be the loudest wake-up call to criminal justice ever heard. I guarantee it!

Audrey said...

Anon 11:05 The Freedom Fighters are exonerees...meaning they were INNOCENT (falsely accused and wrongly convicted!!)...they weren't "bad" people to begin with!! And they did not turn bad while in prison ten to twenty plus years of their life. Theyhave come out with more purpose than most people have in their whole lives, sitting on the outside.

Thomas R. Griffith said...

Hey Grits, with the Post being an excellent and direct tribute to the exonerees that chose to continue the good fight, please allow me to take time to acknowledge the (VOTS) victims of the system that can't afford to go to Austin in person.

While I'm at it, I'd like to show appreciation to those of you that will never be exonerated due to loopholes but fight for criminal justice reforms just the same. Yes, Audrey we must consider memorializing the lives lost to a system allowed to run-amuck by both parties for decades. Let’s consider the day before Memorial Day in an effort to obtain an official 'Holiday'.

With that said - May 29, 2011, a day that will live in infamy in the hearts and minds of humans of all walks of life. A day where human beings of all shapes, sizes & shades come together in unity to publicly express our deepest sympathy to the relatives and loved ones of those whose innocent lives where taken in this internal war. A day where we not only honor the fallen but acknowledge: the Freedom Fighters, the volunteers, the lobbyist, the attorneys/lawyers, the State Representatives in the House & Senate, the Keyboard Warriors and those that fight by our sides anonymously.

Those with a heart are asked to participate in showing your support for criminal justice system reform by simply flying a solid black flag (next to and below) your U.S.A. flag. At high noon we’ll hit our panic buttons on our car alarms and let ‘em scream clean across Texas for one solid minute. While this may be too much to ask of some it’s not nearly enough for others with first hand experience of a corrupt and flawed system. In closing - It’s up to the individual how you memorialize the victims and honor the fighters even if it’s in prayer. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I feel sorry for these men, but I also thought of the other side of this coin. Behind every one of these wrongly convicted black man was another man who actually raped, murdered or assaulted someone.

So many black men make a career of violent crime. Maybe this part of society could turn away from violence. The more cars you have on the road, the higher your odds are of having a collision. With the staggering number of black men choosing to commit these violent acts the odds are that some innocent ones will be wrongly accused.

In not all cases is the term innocence completely accurate. I've seen cases where very active criminals were suspected of crimes they didn't commit. For example, if they committed twenty burglaries in a neighborhood the police may suspect them of number twenty-one. They didn't commit number twenty-one but I wouldn't call them innocent men since they did the other twenty. Sure, innocent of number 21, but what does their pattern of behavior say about them. Out of curiosity, I would be interested in seeing the rap sheets of these men.

gravyrug said...

3:03, could you possibly be MORE racist? That was pretty damn terrible.

Anonymous said...

"but what does their pattern of behavior say about them."

3:03, I think the question you should ask yourself is what does your post say about you?

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 5/27/2011 03:03:00 PM

The vast majority of those being found actually innocent through the innocence projects have been falsely accused and falsely convicted of rape.

Your statement:
"Behind every one of these wrongly convicted black man was another man who actually raped, murdered or assaulted someone."

Is biased and untrue: it is not only black men that have been found innocent and there is no way to substantiate that there is an even split between those actually innocent languishing in prison and those who are guilty.

Readers would do well to educate themselves on this issue by reading innocence project sites and others such as:

sunray's wench said...

I think 3.03 shows the kind of person every exonoree faced across the courtroom sitting in the jury box. It's that attitude, just as much as poor policing and duboius prosecutorial practices, that you will need to change in order to reduce the number of innocent people sent to prison in Texas. said...

To-day, May 28, is the birthday of Michael PARRISH,ex-prosecutor of Tarrant County D.A's Office, guilty of attempted murder in court against Michael TONEY in May 28, 1999.
TONEY was released by the Attorney General ABBOT on September 2nd,2009, and killed on October 3rd, 2009 in a car accident.
PARRISH was"retired" on May 28, 2008
A texan LAW gives penal IMMUNITY to prosecutors???
I could not join your fight, being in France, and without a car BUT...

txskn54 said...

Your comment "and they did not turn bad while in prison ten to twenty plus years of their life." Do you have a family member in prison? Do you know someone who spent 10 years in prison and told you that? I got news for you, they come out changed, for the worse, all of them; physically and emotionally. My brother has served 11 1/2 years of 20 for something he didn't even do. In Texas, unless you have money for a lawyer, you go to prison. He is forever changed, and the longer he stays in there, the worse he will get. It infuriates me to here people make such a remark when they know not what they speak of.

Thomas R. Griffith said...

txskn54 - you my friend are in need of what we refer to as a 'chill-pill'

Normally we don't acknowledge Anons. due to the stupid shit that spews forth. But, since it's obvious that your confusion as to Audrey's meaning is tide to being related to a victim of the system, I'll offer this.

*Audrey's Blog - 'With Unveiled Face' should answer your questions.

txskn54 said...

I've been taking "chill pills" for 12 years, they don't seem to do any good. My appologies to you and the ladies name I should not have used in the first place.
I thank you for the information you included; maybe I did mis-understand her statement, she seems to be a brave and sincere person that I would love to know. I am reading about your experience also; I applaud you and your cause. I meant no harm and my intention was not to insult. My discust with the Texas Judicial system seem's to get the better of me.

Audrey said...

To txskn54:

No offense taken...I understand your anger...first hand. I also know about being without money and power. I lost everything I had (with exception of my sanity) fighting my case, only to lose four years later with a worthless public defender.... the system does not work, justice system reform is the only answer and won't happen without many someones fighting for it. Refocus your anger and JOIN US!!!