KCADP would like to extend a heartfelt Thank You! to Tom Goldstein, an Exoneree and Kansas native. Mr. Goldstein partnered with us here in his home state to help fight against House Bill 2389, a bill that advocates speeding up the appeals process in death penalty cases.
Tom Goldstein was arrested, convicted, and sentenced to a term of 27 years to life for a murder he did not commit. His wrongful conviction was based upon systemic flaws in our justice system, the testimony of a drug addicted jail house informant, an eye witness who was coerced by the police, and counsel who failed to adequately investigate his case.
Since his release from prison in 2004 Mr. Goldstein has pursued a civil lawsuit against the City of Long Beach, the detectives assigned to his case, and the County of Los Angeles. During the discovery phase of his suit his attorneys uncovered four other cases of wrongful convictions involving the same detectives. One was the case of Oscar Lee Morris who spent 17 years on death row before being exonerated in 2000.
When called upon to speak Mr. Goldstein jumps at the opportunity and has spoken at various universities, as well as, with many Congress-persons, Senators and Legislators.
“I spent many long, wasted and lonely years in prison. Participating in this process gives meaning and value to these lost years. Through my first hand experiences I can unequivocally state that our justice system is flawed. Sometimes the system gets it wrong and we need the appeals process to work in order to win our freedom. I believe that the shortcuts this bill proposes would not serve the public interest nor make our system more reliable. In fact it would make the execution of an innocent man more likely.” ~ Tom Goldstein
Thank you to everyone who came yesterday to the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the death penalty and invited others to attend. We had a great turnout from KCADP’s membership! Now we’re turning our attention to another critical hearing this coming week.
On Tuesday, January 21, the Senate Judiciary Committee will consider the death penalty again at a hearing on SB 257. This bill is a dangerous proposal that could threaten innocent life by limiting the appeals and safeguards in capital cases. If you can make it, please come to this hearing and show your opposition to this bill:
Now is an important time to call Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Jeff King at 785-296-7361 and urge him to OPPOSE SB 257 (you also can email him at JeffKingsenateksgov (JeffKingsenateksgov) ). In addition, click here to see if your senator sits on this committee and, if so, contact them too.
Here are some of the major flaws with SB 257 to share Sen. King:
Please contact Sen. King at 785-296-7361 and urge him to oppose SB 257. Now is not the time for Kansas to pass legislation that likely will have the effect of threatening innocent life.
KCADP Executive Director
Read more about the ceremony here.
Photo and Story by Glenn Bartlett (Kansas First News)
Kirk Bloodsworth, Advocacy Director of Witness to Innocence and a death row exoneree, will speak on wrongful convictions and the death penalty here in Kansas (please see below for locations, dates, and times of each event).
Mr. Bloodsworth was accused and convicted of a horrific crime: murdering and raping a nine year-old girl. The evidence used to convict him was the testimony of five eyewitnesses. He spent eight years in prison before DNA evidence proved his innocence. Mr. Bloodsworth is one of 142 individuals in the US to be sentenced to death and later found innocent. Ten years after the initial tests, investigators matched DNA from the case to the real killer.
In Kansas, DNA evidence has played a role in exonerating both Eddie Lowery and Joe Jones of rapes that they did not commit. To date, DNA evidence has led to the release of 305 individuals in the US wrongfully convicted and incarcerated from crimes they did not commit.
While in Kansas, Mr. Bloodsworth hopes his story will highlight how anyone can suffer the injustice of a wrongful conviction: “I was a former Marine with no criminal record, who was nowhere near the scene of the crime, but I was still convicted and sentenced to death for a crime I didn’t commit. If it could happen to me, it could happen to anybody. And it does.”
Sunday, April 14th
9:15am – Grace Gathering Room at Grace UMC, 11485 S Ridgeview Rd., Olathe, KS 66061
(free to the public)
6:30pm – An Evening with Kirk Bloodsworth Dinner Event, St. David’s Episcopal Church, 3916 SW 17th St., Topeka, KS
($25 per person)
Monday, April 15th
7:00pm – Big 12 Room, Kansas Union, Level 5, University of Kansas, 1301 Jayhawk Blvd, Lawrence, KS
(free to the public)
Tuesday, April 16th
7:00pm – Dugan-Gorges Conf. Ctr., Dugan Library & Campus Ctr., Newman University, 3100 McCormick, Wichita, KS
(free to the public)
Wednesday, April 17th
7:00pm – FHSU Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center, 600 Park St., Hays, KS
(free to the public)
“The Disturbing Case of Eddie Lowery ” will air Friday, December 16, 2011 at 9pm (central time) on MSNBC.
Eddie James Lowery was wrongfully convicted of the rape of an Ogden, KS woman in 1981 and spent ten years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. This MSNBC documentary tells the story of Lowery’s wrongful conviction, his difficult journey to justice and the emotional toll imprisonment had on him and his family.
We hope you’ll have a chance to watch the documentary and learn about how an innocent person can be wrongfully convicted of a crime.
Kansas is not immune to the problems that other states face within the justice system. The first Kansan exonerated through DNA evidence after serving time in a Kansas prison granted an exclusive look into the challenges he has faced since being punished for a crime for which he was innocent.
Of the more than 270 people in the United States exonerated by DNA evidence since 1989, 75 percent were originally convicted based in part on mistaken eyewitness identification, according to the Innocence Project, a New York-based organization that assists with exonerations and DNA testing.
To read this powerful story, please click here.
On Tuesday over 80 people, students and community members alike, gathered at the Ecumenical Campus Ministries at the University of Kansas to hear the heart wrenching story of Darryl Hunt, who was wrongfully convicted of murder in 1984.
During the event, a documentary, “The Trials of Darryl Hunt,” was shown, explaining the series of legal errors and neglect which led to Hunt’s imprisonment for over 2 decades. In 1984, an all-white jury convicted Hunt, a black man, of a the murder of a white copy editor of the Winston-Salem paper. Hunt maintained his innocence for decades and was only released after the real killer confessed; a full decade after DNA evidence had exonerated him.
Darryl Hunt and Imam Khalid Griggs, who helped start the Darryl Hunt Defense Fund were present to answer questions and discuss race and justice issues with the crowd. Hunt and Griggs noted that had the death penalty been Hunt’s punishment, he would not have made it long enough to prove his innocence.
For the LJ World Report click here.
For more information on the Darryl Hunt Project click here.
Innocent Lives in the Balance
In a death penalty system, there is always a real and unacceptable risk of executing an innocent person.
Since 1973, 152 people nationwide have been exonerated from death row because new evidence came to light after they were sentenced to die for crimes they did not commit.
Even with the best intentions, police officers, lab technicians, prosecutors, judges, and witnesses can make mistakes or errors in judgment. In a capital case, even a small mistake can risk the execution of an innocent person.
In Kansas, a quarter of the death sentences handed down since 1994 have been overturned by the Kansas Supreme Court due to errors made during trials.
In recent years, Kansas has also seen a prominent felony exoneration for Eddie Lowery, who was mistakenly convicted of rape in 1982. In 2010, Lowery received a settlement of $7.5 million from Riley County and the City of Manhattan for his wrongful conviction and imprisonment.
To help clarify just how innocent people can be convicted and executed for crimes they never committed, KCADP has put together a series of profiles on innocence cases. In come of these cases, mistakes led to wrongful imprisonment. In other cases, men were wrongfully placed on death row, and some were even executed.
Please visit the “Voices of Innocence” section of our website to read about these cases.