Wisconsin State House
Wisconsin State House
Please Pass Brendan Dassey Juvenile Interrogation Protection Law In Wisconsin
Brendan Dassey was wrongfully convicted of murder in the state of Wisconsin in 2007, on the basis of a coerced false confession to the rape and murder of Teresa Halbach. Please ask the state of Wisconsin to enact new legislation in order to prevent other minors from suffering the same fate as Brendan. Brendan’s case highlights the need for the enactment of legislation which would require that an attorney be present during a custodial interrogation of a minor. There is no evidence whatsoever to support Brendan’s conviction, and physical evidence flatly contradicts the statements he gave to his interrogators. At the time he confessed, Brendan was only 16 years old. Brendan spent his childhood struggling with a learning disability. At the time of his interrogation, he had an IQ of about 70. He had no criminal record, and he was not a trouble maker. Police initially turned their attention to him because he was a defense witness for his uncle, Steven Avery, who at the time had been accused of murdering Halbach. The Netflix series “Making a Murderer" brought renewed attention to Brendan’s case. The ongoing series details the murder of Teresa Halbach and the controversy surrounding her death. Video clips of Brendan’s interrogation, which are presented in the Netflix series, have left many viewers wondering how Brendan’s confession was ever deemed admissible at trial. The video clips presented in the series, focus on Brendan’s final interrogation before his arrest. That interrogation session was the fourth time Brendan had been interrogated without a parent or an attorney present, all within the span of 48 hours. Audio and video recordings show how interrogators quickly brought Brendan under their control. Video footage shows that Brendan was willing to go along with any storyline they suggested. Working to build a narrative that Brendan was with his uncle Steven Avery at the time of the murder, investigators told Brendan that Steven had done something to the victim’s head, and asked him what it was. Brendan responded that Steven had cut her hair. No matter how many times the interrogators asked what else Steven had done to the victim’s head, they drew a blank from Brendan. Finally, they became frustrated and told Brendan that Halbach had been shot in the head, at which point he agreed. When the case went to trial, the jury was led to believe that Brendan told police during questioning that Halbach had been shot in the head. Just like that, unreliable information obtained from an improper interrogation of a juvenile, was presented as factual damning evidence in court. The head wound evidence is just one example to show how police were able to manipulate a juvenile into providing unreliable information. In fact, the entire narrative which resulted from Brendan’s interrogation, makes no sense at all. Brendan recanted his confession the moment he was out of reach of his interrogators. In the Netflix series, Brendan is asked by his mother why he told the police that he was involved. Brendan responded: “They got to my head.” Brendan's honest response showed clearly that he was wrongfully pressured by police to provide false information. Brendan was not capable at the time of dealing with the overwhelming stress which was put on him by his interrogators. Please view Brendan’s interrogation videos. The videos clearly show that two seasoned interrogators manipulated Brendan into providing false information. The story that Brendan provided to the police just doesn’t add up. According to Brendan’s confession, he and Steven raped and repeatedly stabbed Halbach in Steven’s bedroom, while she was chained to a bed. Forensic tests, however, revealed no trace of the victim’s blood, fingerprints or DNA in Steven’s room, or, for that matter, anywhere at all in his residence. Nor was any physical trace of Brendan’s presence found in the room or in Steven’s residence. Police photos show that the premises were undisturbed except for ordinary clutter. Not one scrap of physical evidence suggested that a bloody assault had taken place there. Brendan was gullible and easily bullied into giving false information. He agreed to an impossible murder scenario that simply could not have happened. If Brendan had an attorney with him during his interrogations; this completely unreliable narrative would have never developed in the first place. According to the Bluhm Legal Clinic: “researchers have concluded that most youth – even those who might be considered "street-smart" – simply do not understand their Miranda rights to counsel and to remain silent. Accordingly, these children do not exercise those essential rights and are thus left alone during police interrogation, without the assistance of counsel, a friendly adult, or their parents. Too often, the child's resulting statement is involuntary or unreliable.” The United States Supreme Court describes a custodial interrogation as an interrogation where: "a reasonable person would have felt he or she was not at liberty to terminate the interrogation and leave." Even if a minor has the legal right to get up and walk out, the vast majority of minors would have no idea that they had that option. My son certainly did not. Therefore, it is reasonable to view any interrogation of a minor as a custodial interrogation. For these reasons, new legislation should impose the following safeguards: Require that an attorney be present during any custodial interrogation of a minor. This should be viewed as a nonwaivable right. Require law enforcement to inform a minor before an interrogation begins that he or she could be charged as an adult based on information obtained during an interrogation. Wisconsin law currently falls short, as it only requires law enforcement to immediately attempt to notify the child’s parent or guardian. The state does not specify whether juveniles have the right to the presence of an attorney or a parent during questioning. Thankfully, in 2005, the Wisconsin Supreme Court exercised its supervisory power to require that all custodial interrogations of juveniles be recorded. The recording of Brendan's interrogation provides a clear cut example of why minors need further protection. The Bluhm Legal Clinic has modeled legislation which can be used as a guideline for legislators looking to improve the system. Their recommendations can be viewed here: http://www.law.northwestern.edu/legalclinic/wrongfulconvictionsyouth/resources/legislation/ The state of Wisconsin made a promising move in the right direction by recognizing the need for recorded interrogations. They now need to further their efforts by enacting legislation to protect minors during interrogations. This petition is managed by Injustice Anywhere FreeBrendan.org Free Brendan Facebook Page
Stand with Undocumented Students: Allow In-State Tuition for Dreamers in Wisconsin
My name is Selina Armenta and I am a fall class of 2017 UW-Madison graduate. At UW-Madison I majored in Legal Studies and minored in both Criminal Justice and Chican@ Latin@ Studies. I have been passionate about the law and helping my community for a long time and that is why I aspire to eventually go to law school and become an attorney. I immigrated to the United States from Mexico at the age three. Since then, I have been raised in Madison, Wisconsin, so naturally, attending UW-Madison was always a dream of mine. I was fortunate enough to receive a full-tuition scholarship to UW-Madison and it is for that reason that I was able to obtain a college education at one of the top public universities in the world. You see, I am undocumented and come from a low income background. Without that full-tuition scholarship, a four year university like UW-Madison was not an option. Wisconsin is what some call a “locked out state.” This means that in Wisconsin, undocumented students are forced to pay out-of-state tuition at public colleges and universities, despite the fact that many of us have been Wisconsin residents for most of our lives. From 2009 to 2011, under Governor Doyle, qualified undocumented students were eligible for in-state tuition, Governor Walker revoked that eligibility in 2011. Since then, multiple bills have been introduced by Wisconsin legislature, that would extend in-state tuition to qualifying undocumented students, but have failed to pass. Due to the high cost of out-of-state tuition and the current anti-immigrant climate, my goal of attending law school has been put on hold. Thousands of undocumented students are losing hope of being able to obtain a college education. Like myself, these students only want the opportunity to obtain a college degree in order to give back to this state that we know as home. Currently, there are 7,600 undocumented young people registered under DACA who are denied in-state tuition in Wisconsin. 18 other states already allow undocumented students the chance at an affordable college education and it’s time Wisconsin joins them. Add your name to call on Wisconsin legislators to pass tuition equity legislation introduced by Representative JoCasta Zamarripa, in support of young undocumented Wisconsinites who want the opportunity to pursue a college degree.
Congress: Let all children of U.S. military service members unite with their families!
I’m Jenifer Bass, a U.S. Navy veteran, who served for 10 years, one-third in the Asia-Pacific region. It was due to my travel between ports in countries like Japan and Thailand that I first encountered amerasian children, and descendants, of U.S. service members and civilian contractors previously stationed overseas. Filipino Amerasians are abandoned and neglected biracial children of Filipino mothers and American fathers (mostly members of the US armed forces). In the Philippines alone, more than 52,000-plus children were born and left behind after the U.S. Navy withdrew the last of its military personnel in 1992. Right now, the U.S. government won’t legally recognize them as U.S. citizens, despite having been born to an American parent. The Philippine Embassy won't help them either. As a former US colony between 1898 and 1946, the Philippines was home to millions of US soldiers and their dependents, even after its independence. Until 1992, the country hosted two of the largest US military facilities outside the US – Clark Air Base and Subic Naval Base, which played major roles during the Vietnam and first Gulf wars. In 1982 US Public Law 97-359, or the Amerasian Act of 1982, allowed children from Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Kampuchea, or Thailand to move to the US and eventually become American citizens, but those who were from the Philippines were excluded from the law, an exclusion which was upheld by the US Senate on the basis that many Filipino Amerasians were “conceived from illicit affairs and prostitution”, and were born during peacetime. Today, there are estimated to be more than 250,000-plus children. Many amerasians are caught in a no-man’s land of discrimination and poverty -- most left behind by U.S. service members who are unaware that they’ve fathered children overseas. My friend John Haines is one of these sailors. In 2011, John discovered he was the father of a half-Filipino daughter, Jannette. He attempted to unite with her through the American Homecoming Act -- but was frustrated to learn that the Act did not apply to Filipino children of U.S. service members. Today, all John wants is to be united with his daughter and grandchildren. He, like so many other veterans are living with a “hole in their hearts” as they search for ways to unite with their children. There is hope. The Uniting Families Act of 2018, HR 1520, creates a specialized visa allowing military veterans and eligible civilian contractors to sponsor their children and grandchildren for U.S. citizenship. Currently, blood relationship must be proven by DNA test and the total number of visas granted will be capped at 5,000 each year. The issue takes on more urgency as so many of our veterans from our wars in Southeast Asia are getting older and dying each day -- without the chance to connect, or in some cases, reconnect with their own children. John’s daughter Jannette has already undertaken the DNA testing process, conclusively proving her relationship to her American father. All she’s waiting for is the opportunity to permanently unite with her father. There is a PBS documentary, "Left by the Ship" (2010), documenting a day in the life and the personal struggles as a Filipino amerasian on the never ending search for identity and their struggles to connect to their American military families. Please sign this petition to tell Congress that these families cannot wait another day. Pass the Uniting Families Act of 2017, HR 1520, now!
Remove the penalty that prevents people with disabilities from marrying!
When we think of marriage equality, we think about the ongoing fight LGBT couples face, but another minority group must deal with the stark reality that they are better off living in long-term committed relationships, without marriage. Like LGBT couples, these couples are denied the right to over 1,100 rights afforded to married couples. They have been denied access into their loved ones hospital rooms, faced family disputes over wills and have been denied spousal benefits from their partners workplace or the government in the event of their partners death. These are people with disabilities. Many people rely on the government for medical and financial assistance. Without medical insurance they would have no way to live independently. They would be forced into nursing homes (some already are), which would cost the government significantly more than getting Medicare and/or Medicaid does. At the same time, this assistance comes with a price. The government expects married couples to share income and that affects any assistance the couple receives. For many, their spouse makes too much (even if they make meager SSDI payments). This cuts into the healthcare services these couples receive. For some, their able-bodied partners make too much to allow them to qualify for medical assistance, if married, but not enough to pay out of pocket for costly medical equipment, medicine, or any other needs the disabled partner has. Add in the fact that even when a person with a disability can work, the opportunity for quality medical insurance is hard to find, due to their pre-existing condition and you will understand why many couples with disabilities are forced to live in domestic partnerships. Also, if two people with disabilities marry and they are on SSI or SSDI, their payments are CUT significantly, making it hard for them to maintain independence and afford their own food, shelter, clothing or other necessities. The time to stand up is now!! Let your Senators and Representatives know you want to remove the income caps placed on individuals with disabilities, so they can keep the government assistance and still be able to get married. Every loving couple deserves the right to marry. No one should have to choose between their wheelchair and their love, their therapy and their love, their medication and their love, their ability to eat or have a roof over their head and their love!! Those are not choices!! Help make it possible for those with disabilities to share their love without being penalized!Join our fight for marriage equality for people with disabilities:https://www.facebook.com/MarriageEqualityForPeopleWithDisabilities
Justice For Destiney, Put a STOP to Child Molestation
When someone does something wrong, you expect people to be held accountable for their actions. In this case, her seventeen year old half brother wasn't. When someone does something inappropriate to you they always tell you, especially as a younger child, to tell someone so they can be punished for their actions. Unfortunately, Destiney this nine year old girl, as frightened as can be did exactly that and still didn't receive the justice she deserved. He, who's name cannot be mentioned, helped destroy and damage her thought of mind and her train of emotions. Yet, as soon as she finally let it out, she knew something had to be done. She's spent months going through court cases, hearings, meetings, and still she did not receive justice. This poor nine year old girl was turned down by the Milwaukee Wisconsin District Attorney and her case was let go. It wasn't fair because this was suppose to be her own blood brother and he molested her, more than once and still was given "the right" to walk around without a care in the world... All he got was a night in jail and the unfair right to live as freely as can be. He knew what he had done and knew it was wrong but claimed all times were just an "accident". Destiney and all her stories she had told the police remained exactly the same. She started falling behind in school and even missed school to attend more hearings and even therapy. In which she found out that she lives and suffers from PTSD, but what was the point of telling anyone when nothing was done. Yet, till this very day she lives in fear that something like this will happen to her and that he will come back to harm her for telling someone and it's all because of him. So all that we ask is to please help Destiney and I her mother, get the justice she deserves so my daughter doesn't have to live in fear. We need her case to be reopened and for him to be punished for what he had done to her, so please take the time out your day to sign our petition. It's very appreciated she deserves to live at peace and we thank you so very much in advance.
A Child Chokes to Death Once Every Five Days.
A child chokes to death once every five days, choking is the number one cause of accidental death in our school system. Current rescue protocol fails almost 30% of the time when performed by a trained medical professional. I know these statistics because my son Camynn choked to death on a rubber ball at the age of 18months. Fire rescue and the local hospital tried everything but the tools and procedures they had did not work. My situation is not an isolated one. 5000 people choke to death each year in the United States. I don't want anyone else to feel the pain that my family and friends are feeling. There is a bill that is being presented to the Wisconsin State Senators next month that needs your support. If approved, the state would provide grant money for schools to implement airway clearing devices such as LifeVac. These devices are inexpensive, easy to use and highly effective in a choking emergency. I am trying to turn my family tragedy into something positive by preventing this from happening to another child. Please sign this petition to show the senate your support. My family thanks you in advance for your support.