Injustice Toward Minorities II

by Robert Talib Douglas on Death Row in Pennsylvania

Well it's almost two years since I last wrote my last essay on the injustice toward the poor, how much has changed? Well to start we know since 1976 about 80 American men/woman that have been sentence to death were later found innocent and 13 of them got help from journalism students "Think of this" "Students,Kids on a research assignment" expose what the law and courts couldn't expose, and the politicans continue to convince society that the justice system is a just system.

But the injustices don't just happen in death pentaly cases. I just read a case of a white male accused of raping and murdering a young lady He recieved a life sentence, but always claimed that he was innocent. After years of trying to get someone to listen, he found someone who would, a lawyer who believed him. Now after the lawyer reviewed the notes and evidence, he came to find that some vital evidence was withheld. Sperm found in the victim didn't come from the defendant, but the jury was never told of this information. Now the higher court judge justified it by saying that there were two suspects. One was never caught, and when the defendant raped the lady, he used a condom. But regardless of her opinion, how could you allow them to withhold vital evidence? The jury took it as the sperm found in this lady was the defendant's.

I didn't want to get into the habit of writing about cases, but it helps bring a lot of light to the sistution at hand. Now this one really saddens me. A young black male was charged with a burglary & a rape/burglary. This rape victim gave a statement, that she wasn't raped, that she entered her apartment and the suspect dropped everything and ran off,and that he never touched her. So why did the police bring this in? Because of an unsolved homicide/rape/robbery, the police puts this suspect into a car and drives him around to sites of crimes, they stopped where the murder took place and asked the suspect has he ever been to this house before. He said yes, and yes to the other sites that he was taken to. This person had an IQ of 69, that's equal to a 9 year old. He then goes to trial for the cases. He was found not guilty on all burglary cases, but found guilty on the murder and sentenced to death. Now for a couple of years his attorney was trying to get a DNA test to prove the man didn't committ the crime. After exhausting all his appeals he was down to his last hope, clemency or pardon by the Governor. The attorney pleaded for a DNA test. The governor allowed a DNA test to be done. He received the results months later, then called the defendant's attorney and told him, "I'll give you two hours to make a decision. Sign these papers and I'll grant your client clemency. The attorney asked for a copy of the DNA test,then they claim they didn't have them. The attorney had no choice but to sign the papers. The attorney asked for a copy of the DNA results before he sign the papers. They claim that they didn't have the DNA test results,,so the. attorney signed the papers and his client was given a life sentence. During a TV interview months later about this case, he received a copy of the DNA test, and it showed that the defendant was innocent, and that the judge, prosecutor & governor knew this from the start before the attorney was asked to sign the clemency papers.

Politicians & Judges are subject to election with disturbing frequency. Judges who follow the law and overturn death sentences are challenged for being soft on crime. The public is encouraged to view any ruling which interferes with a death sentence as intrusive, "technicality". For a judge to follow the law and the constitution there can be perilous consequences.

Here's an example: Justice White was the only woman on Tennessee's Supreme Court. In her first death penalty case, she joined the unanimous vote of the other justices in affirming the conviction of a man, but overturned the death sentence. The Tennessee Conservative Union attacked her as an opponent of the death penalty. In the judicial election, White's appointer including the State Republican Leader accused her of never voting "to uphold a death penalty conviction" (even though this was her first captial case she had upheld). But the State Republican Senator voted absentee before the official election and then publicly announced that they had voted against Justice White. The Republican Governor Don Sundquist proclaimed before the election that he would never name someone to a criminal court judgeship unless he was sure the nominee supported the death penalty. In the end Justice White lost the election and no longer served on the courts. Clearly, if she had gone against her sworn duty to follow the law and voted instead to execute, she would still be on the court today.

These are stories that the public don't get to hear about, but are discussed in a closed room. In New Jersey, they don't have to worry about a Supreme Court Justices making a political decisions, rather the decision that are based on facts, because their judges are appointed for a lifetime and therefore do not fall under the political pressure that comes from making decisions that will favor the public and/or those who would be in a positions to help them get re-elected to their position. Prosecutors and some Judges are one-minded, that every person that comes before them are guilty. Once a man was place on death row in Alabama even before his trial. He was accused of murdering a well liked white woman He was already unpopular because he was dating a different white woman. After the murder had gone unsolved for months the police convinced some witnesses to testify against the defendant. Ironically, this trial occurred in Monroville,the hometown of Harper Lee and the setting of the famous novel, "To Kill a Mockingbird". The defendant maintained his innocence. The witnesses against him were weak. The jury convicted him of murder, but given the lack of physical evidence they recommended a life sentence. But he (judge)had the ultimate decision and the judge stated the appropriate sentence is death by electrocution. Six years later witnesses admitted that they lied. In their zeal to solve a troubling murder, the prosecutor had focused on the wrong man and the judge overruled the jury and sentenced him to die. But for the extraordinary intervention of the Alabama Resource Center in showing his innocence,he would have heen executed.

Last week I read an article in the newspaper about a man charged with murder, found guilty and sentenced to life in prison in 1997. The only evidence that linked him to the crime was a bloody fingerprint found on a fan. Now one would think, they don't need any other evidence because nobody has the same fingerprints. Well this defendant's lawyer disagreed with the three prosecutor expert witnesses,so he called one expert witness of his own, and his witness stated the prints do not match the defendant. He was found guilty. On the appeal the attorney asked a judge can he have the prints looked at by an F.B.I. analysis. The judge agreed. The F.B.I. found no match, so the judge ordered the defendant released on a Sl.00 bail. Now it came to light that the three so-called expert witnesses were not certified to analyze any test. These cops took the stand and claimed under oath and said they were certified analysts, but lied. The NAACP said that all cases involving these so-called experts should be reviewed, but the country said a review would not be done. So we'll never know how many others are in jail because of these so-called experts.

Over the years I have read and researched a lot of cases on law and most of the decisions are unbeleiveable. The judges handed down so much injustice and I've come to one conclusion that the system is just a gang just like any other gang. Politicians, Prosecutors, Judges & Police Officers, and we know gangs stick together and try to win battles at any cost. Whoever they are up against are the enemies and whoever is charged with a crime whether he/she be innocent or guilty. The idea of innocence is not an option nor is it the authorities concern. Their concern is a conviction because a conviction is a win. Many times evidence that's helpful to a defendant is misplaced or lost that's in the possession of the gang. When a prosecutor calls his homeboy (cop) as a witness you best believe that they went over the case numerous times to make sure the story fits the theory they put together. Thats why cops testimonies seem so perfect all the time, most are just professional liars on the witness stand. In Nebraska, they have a law which ensures that anyone knowingly testifying falsely in order to get someone convicted will be charged and sent to jail and what this did was cut down on perjured testimony, and tampering with evidence by the police & district attorneys. This is what they need all over the United States. Without it district attorneys and police get away with whatever and are not held accountable for their misdeeds & therefore have no problem doing what they feel to win a conviction. This happens over and over and continues to happen now.

The defendant that was freed because the fingerprints didn't match, his Father stated this, "no one said that they were sorry". They never do!!! Let's take a look at the card hand you are dealt, the death penalty resource for the poorest defendant are fully inadequate, the lawyers are underpaid and don't recieve money to hire investigators and specialists any affluent defendant would employ. It seems that the state is purposely running good lawyers away from taking "Pro-bono" cases, because of the lack of funds they get to put on a defense, and these good lawyers don't like half-stepping when it comes to defending a defendant. Then the state brings in what I call the puppet lawyers. The ones they can control and have very little experience in capital cases. Now if one recieved a bad eye injury he/she will not let a dermatologist work on the eye,regardless if he has a medical degree,but one would hire a specialist on eyes such as an optician who has the knowedge. Just like in the courts in death penalty cases one needs death qualified lawyers and not lawyers who's specialty are in family court matters. This is why so many lose their cases. In Alabama the legislature passed a bill for hiring better lawyers in death penalty cases,but governor Bob James vetoed the bill. Here in Pennsylvania, Harrisburg recently came up with $500,000 so the state attorney general's office can help district attorneys prosecute death penalty cases.

As far as race and the system, I believe that there is obviously racism constantly flowing throughout the system, but it's more then an issue of race thats involved here. More so is the justice for the poor and the justice for the rich is the greater issue. In my opinion racism will always exist in this here country and therefore will always play a part in the justice system. The justice system is politically motivated and therefore real justice which is equal justice is very rarely administered .

Let's look at some of the same types of cases and you decide which law is which:

1.a) A young man is arrested and charged with vehicular homicide. After he crashed his car into another, driving fast and killing a person. He was arrested at the crime. He was convicted and sentenced to 5-10 years in prison.
b) A woman hits a man while he was changing a tire,killing him. She stopped, looked at what she did, got back in her car and drove away. The next day she takes the car to an auto shop to have the damage repaired, but someone tipped the police,she was arrested & convicted and sentenced to 2-years work release and gets out in 6-months.

2. a) A young lady goes to her prom, then goes into the bathroom and gives brith to a full baby. She puts the baby in the trash bin and was found guilty and sentenced to 7-15 years in prison.
b) A young lady goes to a hotel with her boyfriend and gives brith to a full baby, then puts the baby into a plastic bag and puts it in a trash dumpster. She was found guilty and was sentenced to 3 years and got out in 18-months.

3. a) A homeless man goes into a bank, gives the teller a note, "I have a bomb. Put $50,000 into the bag". Once outside a dye pack explodes. He's caught minutes later(no bomb found) and he was sentenced to 5-I0 years in prison.
b) A man works for a trust fund. He sells $95,000,and was caught years later he was sentence to 4 years probation.

4. a) A man rapes a woman and is convicted and sentence to 6-12 years. (good)
b) A man moseless a little girl and is convicted and given 2-years probation. (bad law)

5. a) A man is charged with possession of drugs (50 grams of crack cocaine) he is found guilty and sentenced to 25-years in prison.
b) A man is charged with possession of drugs (5O kilos of cocaine) he is found guilty and sentenced to 5-years in prison.

6. a) A man is charged with murdering two people. Evidence of his DNA is found at the scene. Numerous witnesses testified against him, to tie him to the crime,he is found not guilty.
b) A man is charge with one murder,no weapon.DNA,found and no eye-witness at trial,he is found guilty and sentence to death. (Me)

A lot of the public contuine to be blind about the numbers of laws in this country. It's always been two laws, POOR-LAW (injustice) & RICH-LAW (justice).

But we all must remember, this is a country that kills its Presidents and its Civil Rights leaders, so why really expect different from a law that they KNOW is unjust toward an ordinary poor citizen.

Talib R.Douglas ( Pa. Death Row )


If you would like to send stamped envelopes to Talib to help him get his letters to me, or if you would like to send him or I any comments regarding our correspondence, please click here to email me.

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