Freedom for Major Tillery! End his Life Imprisonment!

Freedom for Major Tillery! End his Life Imprisonment!

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Justice For Major Tillery started this petition to Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner and



Major Tillery, now at State Correctional Institution (SCI) at Chester, PA is factually innocent of the homicide charge that has imprisoned him for nearly four decades. Throughout these years Major Tillery has advocated on behalf of all prisoners to lessen the harshness of incarceration and for adequate medical care.

Please sign this petition supporting Major Tillery’s effort to win his freedom and exoneration, beginning with commutation of his sentence to allow parole.


On July 24, 2021, the Philadelphia Inquirer front page featured “Sex for Lies,” an article that blows wide-open practices of homicide detectives in the 1980s to induce jailhouse informants to falsely testify against innocent men. The goal was to “clear” unsolved homicides, without true evidence. In addition to promises of lenient sentences and dismissal of felony charges, detectives arranged for the informants to use Philadelphia Police Administration homicide interview rooms for sexual liaisons with girlfriends and paid sex-workers. Five of those jailhouse informants acknowledge they lied under the direction of the detectives with the complicity of prosecutors. Their false testimony resulted in life sentences without parole for the six innocent men highlighted in the article.

Major Tillery is one of those factually innocent men. On September 5, Major Tillery will be 71. He has been imprisoned since 1983 including 20 years in solitary confinement for a 1976 murder and assault he did not commit.

The surviving victim of the shooting did not identify Major Tillery; other men were named. There was no physical evidence tying him to the shooting. Without jailhouse snitch Emanuel Claitt’s manufactured, perjured testimony there was no case against Major Tillery. Claitt and another jailhouse informant, Robert Mickens have sworn under oath that their entire testimony was fabricated; that they were threatened and granted favors including “sex for lies.” Both informants have given videotaped statements.

Major Tillery’s case to overturn his conviction, win exoneration and his freedom is now in federal court. The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Major Tillery has a prima facie case. Major Tillery also filed a petition to the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons commute his sentence to life with parole. He needs your support.

Major Tillery has spent his years of incarceration advocating for the well-being of other prisoners. He became a renowned jailhouse litigator. In 1987 he drafted a lawsuit against unconstitutional prison conditions at the State Correction Institution Pittsburgh that forced $30 million in repairs and changes to cell housing, and medical and mental health treatment.

In 2015 when former death-row political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal was near death due to untreated diabetes and hepatitis C in SCI Mahanoy, Major Tillery blew the whistle to the prison superintendent. Tillery had already filed grievances challenging the lack of medical care and the toxic water condition at the prison effecting Abu-Jamal, himself and other prisoners. The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PADOC) retaliated by transferring Tillery to SCI Frackville, manufacturing disciplinary charges and putting him in solitary. Tillery filed a federal civil rights retaliation lawsuit on First Amendment grounds, which was settled by clearing his record of the misconduct and allowing a transfer to SCI Chester. Major Tillery proceeded to organize a program for elderly prisoners.

Tillery, whom Abu-Jamal describes as a “jailhouse lawyer who shook the prison walls because of something prison administrators hate and fear above all things: prisoner unity; prisoner solidarity.”

When Covid-19 broke, Major Tillery tried to get testing for all prisoners. Central Office of the PA DOC refused. He survived infection thanks to a public campaign for him and others at SCI Chester to be adequately treated by the medical staff. At SCI Chester, with approval from and coordination with the prison administration, Major Tillery with other prisoners designed the Life Enhancement Program Center for inmates 50 and over to provide special activities for elder prisoners. This program includes re-entry assistance for prisoners being released on parole. Major Tillery is working to expand the program to include community outreach to assist senior prisoners who do not have family support and a hospice care to provide companionship for seniors housed in the infirmary at end of life.

Major Tillery has been incarcerated for almost four decades. He wants to spend his remaining years outside the prison walls, continuing his advocacy and in the company of his large family—six children, eleven grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Major Tillery needs your help. Please sign this petition supporting Major Tillery’s efforts to win his freedom and exoneration, beginning with the commutation of his life imprisonment sentence to parole. The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office and the PA Board of Pardons needs to hear from you.


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