criminal justice reform
Petition to President of the United States
Clemency for Ross Ulbricht, Serving Double Life for a Website
My son, Ross Ulbricht, is serving a double life sentence plus 40 years, without the possibility of parole, for a website he made when he was 26 years old and passionate about free markets and privacy. Ross―an Eagle Scout, scientist and peaceful entrepreneur―had all non-violent charges and no criminal history. This is a sentence that shocks the conscience. The website Silk Road was an e-commerce platform similar to eBay, where individual users chose what to list for sale. Both legal and illegal items were sold, most commonly small amounts of cannabis. Ross is condemned to die in prison, not for dealing drugs himself but for a website where others did. This is far harsher than the punishment for many murderers, pedophiles, rapists and other violent people. Ross’s investigation, trial and sentencing were rife with abuse. This includes corrupt federal investigators (now in prison) who were hidden from the jury, as well as prosecutorial misconduct, constitutional violations and reliance on unproven allegations at sentencing. Ross did not get a fair trial and his sentence was draconian. Justice was not served. We, the undersigned, seek mercy for Ross Ulbricht. He told the court that Silk Road was a terrible mistake that he deeply regrets, that he never intended harm, and that he has learned the heavy price of breaking the law. Ross’s life history clearly shows he is a compassionate young man with much to contribute. The judge received 100 letters attesting to his excellent character and how much he has helped others. These include those in prison, where he has tutored, led classes, and generally helped fellow inmates. Keeping Ross caged for life helps no one; will cost taxpayers about $2 million; and deprives society of an exceptionally kind, generous and creative person. Even in the face of his walking death sentence, Ross clings to the hope of a second chance and dreams of a future where he can be reunited with his loved ones, and use his education, knowledge and skills to give to his community and society as a whole. Please sign this petition and help us bring Ross home. Learn more about Ross Ulbricht here.
Petition to President Donald Trump
Clemency for Tadd Vassell
Please ask President Trump to commute Tadd Vassell's life sentence to time served. Justice has been done and Tadd has paid his debt to society. Tadd has served 21 years of a life sentence for a nonviolent drug crime. He was a teenager at the time of the crime, ages 17 and 18. Arrested at age 18, the record shows that Tadd's criminal activity took place for only 45 days as an 18 year old "adult". A life sentence is unduly harsh and disproportionate to the others involved. Today, Tadd is the ONLY co-defendant still in prison. All 12 other co-conspirators have been released including the two ring leaders who were convicted of much greater culpability. The last one came home in 2016. Tadd is a model inmate and has transformed his life and is creating transformational programming in the prison. At USP Hazelton in 2012, Tadd was selected, because of his “standing within the [prison] population” and his character as a “leader,” to participate in the Inside Out Program, an unprecedented educational opportunity for prisoners in a high-security prison. Inside Out is a class comprised of college students and inmates and led by the sociology department of the University of West Virginia at Hazelton Penitentiary. Together the “Inside” and “Outside” students learned about crime and justice, and developed initiatives for reentry training for inmates at Hazelton. Tadd’s family attended the celebration ceremony, where the warden told beaming mother, “Your son is a good man.” He’s a far cry from the man he was when he entered prison. Today, Tadd is now the “inside” co-facilitator with Professors Jeri Kirby of Fairmount University and Lori Pompa of Temple University. Now in his twenty-first year in prison, Tadd continues to participate in the Inside Out program as the co-facilitator of the program. His efforts led to the creation of the Bounce Back unit, a housing unit dedicated to assising inmates preparing for reentry develop the necessary life skills for success upon release from prison. In 2018, he single-handedly created an electrician apprenticeship program, purchasing the test materials and study guides. Inmates just sat for the first state exam certification. Formally and informally, he mentors other prisoners, promoting non-violence, helping them navigate life in prison and away from their families, and teaching individuals to read. He is regularly called upon by inmates and staff to mediate situations of conflict within the prison. He conducts courses on life skills in classrooms that Hazelton Penitentiary has reopened for his use after years of being closed due to violence in the institution.
Petition to The Governor of Oklahoma & The District Attorney of Oklahoma
To the Governor of Oklahoma, the Attorney General of Oklahoma, the District Attorney of Oklahoma County, and the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board: We are writing as citizens from Oklahoma and across the country, deeply concerned about the egregious unfairness in the case of death row prisoner Julius Jones, including compelling evidence that he may have been wrongfully convicted and that racial bias infected his case. Mr. Jones, who is African American, has spent almost twenty years on death row for the murder of Paul Howell, a white businessman of Edmond, Oklahoma. The ABC documentary, “The Last Defense,” co-produced by Academy Award winner Viola Davis, has sparked widespread interest and concern from citizens throughout our state and nation. After viewing the documentary and / or learning about the case, it is our strong conviction that Mr. Jones’ case must be re-opened immediately and that clemency is warranted. At the time of the crime for which he was convicted, Mr. Jones was a 19-year-old student athlete with a promising future, attending the University of Oklahoma on an academic scholarship. It is clear that Mr. Jones lacked an adequate defense, and that explicit racial bias played a significant role in the process from the beginning. The compelling evidence in Mr. Jones’ case includes: · Several eyewitnesses place Mr. Jones at his parents’ home at the time of the murder. This is miles away from the crime scene, but the jury never heard Mr. Jones’ alibi witnesses when they found him guilty and sentenced him to death. · Mr. Jones’ co-defendant matches the only eyewitness description of the shooter based on the length of his hair while Julius’ hair was too short to match the eyewitness’ description. · Mr. Jones’ co-defendant admitted to being involved in the crime and is now free after testifying against Julius. He was heard bragging that he “set Julius up.” Mr. Jones has maintained his innocence for almost 20 years and faces a death sentence. · Newly-discovered evidence – never considered by any court - shows that at least one juror harbored racial prejudice that influenced his vote to convict and sentence Mr. Jones to death. One juror reported telling the judge about another juror who said the trial was a waste of time and “they should just take the n***** out and shoot him behind the jail.” The juror who made this comment was never removed from the jury. · Key pieces of evidence, including a red bandana, were never forensically processed. We do not believe the State has fulfilled its burden of proving Mr. Jones’ guilt, and therefore, respectfully request that you use your power and position to correct the failures of the Oklahoma criminal justice system in this case. Our ask of you echoes that of the Congressional Black Caucus, whose August 21, 2018 letter stated, “…we ask that you take a close and careful look at his case, and use your authority to correct this wrongful conviction. Justice requires it.” We believe it is in your authority to act swiftly on behalf of Julius Jones. If any aspect of Mr. Jones’ story as depicted on “The Last Defense” is true, there has been an outrageous miscarriage of justice. Thank you for your serious and kind consideration of this important life and death matter. As Oklahomans and people across the country, we are counting on you to do what is right on Mr. Jones’ behalf and for the sake of our collective integrity and moral compass.
Petition to Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, President of the United States
Release Corvain Cooper from Life Imprisonment Without Parole for Marijuana
On June 18, 2014, Corvain T. Cooper was convicted in the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina in Charlotte for the crime of conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute marijuana and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. This was a non-violent crime. Corvain Cooper did not use any violence, or even threaten any violence, in this case. Despite former Attorney General Eric Holder's promise not to seek life sentences for non-violent drug offenders, the United States Attorney sought and obtained a life sentence under the Federal "Three Strikes" law. Corvain Cooper's two prior felonies that were the first two strikes were a conviction in California for possession of marijuana, and one conviction for possession of codeine cough syrup without a prescription. When he was sent to prison for the rest of his life for selling marijuana, Corvain Cooper was 34 years old, a father to two young daughters, ages 4 and 8, a fiancee, a son, a friend, and a small business owner selling clothing and footwear. Corvain appealed his conviction and sentence, arguing that his sentence of life imprisonment without parole for a non-violent drug offense as Cruel and Unusual Punishment. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld this injustice, and the Supreme Court declined to hear the case. After his direct appeals concluded, the State of California enacted Proposition 47 and Proposition 64 as part of legislative drug law reforms after California legalized marijuana. Both laws permitted people like Corvain Cooper to apply to the courts to vacate their marijuana or drug felony convictions, and replace them with misdemeanor convictions. Corvain Cooper successfully applied, and both of his felony convictions were thrown out. Both of the "two strikes" were vacated, meaning that Corvain Cooper was no longer eligible for the "Three Strikes" law. We filed a petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 2255 in the Federal court, challenging his life sentence under the "Three Strikes" law - since two of the three strikes were no longer felonies, he should not receive a life sentence. The Federal courts have denied our challenge. The case is once again before the United States Supreme Court. If the Court allows this sentence to stand, this man will never see his family again. In 2016, we submitted an application for clemency with President Barack Obama, asking him to commute this grossly unjust sentence of life imprisonment for a non-violent drug offense. Unfortunately, before he left office, President Obama denied our clemency petition. I have been representing Corvain Cooper since his sentencing in 2014. Because his family has been unable to afford legal fees, I have been representing him for free - pro bono. I have pledged to continue to fight for this young man, who is a genuinely good person who does not deserve this Draconian punishment. Join us in asking President Donald J. Trump to stop the madness of mandatory life sentences for non-violent drug offenders, and commute Corvain Cooper's sentence so his daughters can grow up with a father. For more information, contact: Patrick Michael Megaro, Esq. Halscott Megaro, P.A. 1300 North Semoran Boulevard, Suite 195 Orlando, FL 32807 USA Phone: (407) 255-2164 email@example.com http://www.halscottmegaro.com
Petition to Michael Rubin, meek mills, Reform, Robert Kraft, Bob kraft, Bill Haslam
Meek Mills & Michael Rubin #Reform to assist in Cynthia (Cyntonia) Brown Case
ProblemJudge: Cyntoia Brown, a child sex slave who killed man who bought her, must serve 51 years in prison before she’s eligible for releaseCelebrities like Rihanna, Gabrielle Union and Kim Kardashian West have previously advocated for Brown's releaseCyntoia Brown was just 16 years old and a victim of child sex trafficking when she was charged in 2004 with killing a 43-year-old Nashville real estate agent who solicited sex from her. Today, the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled Brown must serve at least 51 years in prison before she’s eligible for release.The court ruled defendants like Brown, who are convicted of first-degree murder committed after July 1, 1995 and sentenced to life imprisonment, can’t become eligible for release from prison before serving more than five decades, according to Pix 11 News.Brown said she killed Johnny Mitchell Allen, also known as “Kut Throat” after she feared he would kill her. Allen allegedly drove Brown to his house in his pickup truck. There, Brown saw a gun cabinet in Allen’s room, she said during her trial. Brown said she became convinced he was going to kill her after he appeared to reach under the bed. Fearing for her life, she shot him in the back of the head, in bed, with a .40-caliber gun.In a unanimous decision on Thursday, the court’s five justices ruled that despite Brown’s age, her sentence was constitutional. Thursday’s ruling came in response to a lawsuit in which Brown argued her sentence was unconstitutional, citing a 2012 opinion by the U.S. Supreme Court that said mandatory life sentences without parole for juvenile offenders violate the US Constitution.In 2011, the PBS documentary, Me Facing Life: Cyntoia’s Story details the atrocities that Brown suffered. Allen, said to be her pimp, allegedly forced her into prostitution and she was regularly raped, choked, beaten and drugged, according to an earlier article in The Grio.In its ruling, the Tennessee Supreme Court explained in a statement that “under state law, a life sentence is a determinate sentence of 60 years. However, the sixty-year sentence can be reduced by up to 15 percent, or 9 years, by earning various sentence credits.”According to the Tennessee code, those credits include recognition for good behavior or participation in educational or vocational training programs.#FreeCyntoiaBrownA district court had earlier denied Brown’s motion, stating that she hadn’t been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole — rather a life sentence.The case is pending judgment by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which asked the Tennessee Supreme Court to share its opinion.During a clemency hearing in May, the Tennessee Board of Parole was split on its recommendation to Gov. Bill Haslam. Two of the six members voted to grant clemency, two to deny it, and two to make her eligible for parole after 25 years.Prosecutors at that hearing said Brown killed Allen to rob him, not to defend herself.After the initial sentencing, Brown’s case drew attention from celebrities like Rihanna, Gabrielle Union and Kim Kardashian West who began advocating for mercy. Her story spread on social media using the hashtag #FreeCyntoiaBrown.By Dawn Onley GrioSolutionRapper Meek Mill and billionaire entrepreneur Michael Rubin partnered to fight for criminal justice reform through a new organization that will push to reform the laws that govern sentencing, probation, bail, and other aspects of the criminal justice system. Tennessee and other states that mirror its archaic system of justice need immediate reform.
Petition to Senate
Stop Apple & Samsung From Making You A Criminal Because You Fixed Your Phone
Visit: http://applevictims.org Stop Apple, Samsung, and the US government from criminalizing the act of getting your cell phone repaired. Do not let them take away your rights to fix your broken cell phone at a repair center of your choice. Tell Apple, Samsung, and the US government that NO, you will not be labeled a criminal and dragged into prison. If you are part of the 50 million Americans who had your iPhone fixed by anyone besides an Apple repair center or your Samsung phone by anyone besides a Samsung repair center, you, by current federal law, are considered a criminal and could face prison time. If you ever repaired your Apple or Samsung device outside of an Apple or Samsung repair center or sold your fixed phone, you face up to 90 years in prison. Say thank you to Apple and Samsung. Does this sound like a fairy tale? Can it be true? In the USA? Welcome to the brave new world where the US government has become a puppet in the hands of large corporations, specifically Apple and Samsung. The recent arrests of sellers of repaired phones are a chilling reminder of the power that Apple and Samsung have over the US government. Apple or Samsung demanded that the US Government label any cell phone that repaired outside of their repair centers as counterfeits and fake. These corporate giants are well on their way to limit consumer choice and destroy the cell phone repair industry. It’s a well-known fact that Apple has a policy that refuses to sell their parts to third-party repair stores. Ycombinator.com reports that“Apple does not sell parts–and thus ‘genuine OEM parts’ do not exist outside of an Apple store.” Cell phone insurance companies such as SquareTrade and Asurion, and most cell phone repair centers fix phones using mainly aftermarket parts or refurbished parts. Apple and Samsung make it impossible for most companies to purchase new original parts. Now, Apple and Samsung claim that parts not purchased from Apple and Samsung are counterfeit or fake. Sounds like a catch-22? With the help of some inside the US government, they are trying to criminalize the entire cell phone repair and insurance industry. The chase for more profits by Apple and Samsung to monopolize the electronics industry appears to know no bounds. They have already taken action against several families, including the Babichenko’s, where twenty-four children now face the genuine possibility of growing up without their parents – whom each faces ninety years behind bars. All charges stem from some members of the Babichenko family selling repaired iPhone and Samsung devices. Ironic for Apple and Samsung– companies that portray themselves as icons for human rights and progressive business practices. So where does this put more than 8,500 third party repair centers and more than 22,000 repair technicians? Where does this leave the nation’s largest phone insurance providers that ensure tens of millions of electronic devices? These well-known brands such as SquareTrade an Allstate company, Asurion, Staples, Batteries Plus and Bulb, CPR repair, Ubreakifix, and hundreds of other repair facilities mainly use quality non-Apple and Samsung parts that are much more affordable to consumers. The policy of SquareTrade found on their website states “Replacement parts will be new, rebuilt or non-original manufacturer’s parts that perform to the factory specifications of the product at our sole option.” What can US businesses and citizens do to protect themselves? First, sign this petition and spread it on social media. Send letters, emails and call your government representatives. Stop buying Apple and Samsung devices – especially on Amazon and eBay. Companies such as SquareTrade, Asurion, Staples, Batteries Plus and Bulb, CPR repair, join the fight! Our world should not belong to companies that suppress our freedoms. More than 50 million US citizens and 8,500 3rdparty repair centers should not stand for being labeled criminals. Vote with your wallets, stand up to your government, and say no to the demonization of consumer choice and the free market.
Petition to David Perdue
Georgians, Tell Senator Purdue to Support the First Step Act!
Senator David Perdue is critical to the first step toward ending mass incarceration in the United States. We need Senator Perdue to stand behind the First Step Act to reduce recidivism, promote public safety and improve fairness in sentencing of federal crimes. Georgia made incredible strides under Governor Deal to reform pretrial detention and rights restoration. As a result, Georgia’s prison population is nearly 12 percent smaller than was projected, and over $260 million taxpayer dollars have been diverted to evidence-based practices. It’s time for the nation to follow Georgia’s lead and make criminal justice reform a priority. The good news: A strong bipartisan Congress coalition is making prison reform a top priority! Also, Community stakeholders are united over the First Step Act, including the ACLU and Fraternal Order of Police. The First Step Act (FSA) passed the House in May by a wide, bipartisan margin of 360-59, and President Trump has agreed to enact the bill once it hits his desk BUT first, the FSA must garner 60 votes in the Senate to become law. We need our Republican Senators to step up to the plate and back this Bipartisan Criminal Justice Reform agenda, and it won't happen without your support! Call your Senator to have your voice heard! These next 10 days are critical: The sooner you reach out, the more likely it is that your voice will influence their position! For the more than 70,000 non-violent offenders in federal prisons today, there should be no further delay in a meaningful path toward reentry. CALL (404) 865-0087 to tell Sen. Perdue that the First Step Act must pass!
Petition to Edmund G. Brown Jr.
Free Joe Hunt
In 1988, one true crime story dominated the news cycle: The Billionaire Boys Club. Three decades later, the story has faded from the tabloids, but it remains the painful present-day reality of club leader Joe Hunt, who remains in prison, serving a sentence of life without possibility of parole for a murder he maintains that he did not commit. Hunt readily admits to financial misdeeds — he became the unwitting head of a ponzi scheme when a con man named Ron Levin bilked him out of a half million of his investors’ dollars, leaving Joe holding the bag. The 23-year-old Hunt naively overextended himself when he took Levin at his word that he would fund a large commodities investment intended to repay investors with a handsome profit. Instead, Levin assured Hunt he could proceed with a purchase made with nonexistent funds. That’s when law enforcement got involved. Soon after, Levin, who was out on bail and facing an FBI investigation for grand theft and fraud, went missing. In response to police inquiries, the rich kids of the Billionaire Boys club directed attention away from themselves and pointed to Joe, the scholarship kid. Prosecutors decided to charge Joe with Levin’s murder, even with no body and no forensic evidence. In addition to defending their client, Joe’s lawyers were burdened with the task of filing a judicial misconduct motion for mistrial after Judge Laurence Rittenband, well known as a “prosecutor’s judge,” slapped one member of the defense team with a gag order, leaving a workload meant to be divided among two lawyers to just one. A Los Angeles Times article about the judge’s conduct explained that the mistrial motion raised charges that “Rittenband deliberately elicited prejudicial evidence against Hunt by questioning witnesses, that he belittled and banished defense staff from the courtroom, that he frequently refused to allow the defense to approach the bench to voice objections and that he aligned himself with the prosecution by grimacing, smirking and showing impatience and disbelief at crucial points in the defense’s cross-examination of witnesses.” Ultimately, Hunt’s media notoriety (which extended to a fictionalized 1980s made-for-TV movie and a 2018 version of his story starring Kevin Spacey) worked against him in the trial, and he was sentenced to life without possibility of parole — which many observers characterized as an unjust sentence, especially in a murder case with no physical evidence — not even a body. Hunt’s sentence is an anomaly, not comparable to those of his fellow Boys Club members or even far more notorious criminals. For example, even the psychopathic cult leader Charles Manson was granted several opportunities to go before a parole board for his role in multiple murders. Yet Hunt has has never been granted the right to a parole board hearing. Grants of parole consideration are made not by guilt or innocence, but by an evaluation of an inmate’s rehabilitation, as well as an evaluation of any threat they may pose to public safety. Hunt hangs his hopes on a commutation application that, if granted, would give him the opportunity to go before a parole board. Hunt, if given the opportunity, could make a strong case. His prison record is blemish-free, and his commutation application includes many letters of support, including letters from prison guards and chaplains. He has raised thousands for his church, ministered and offered legal assistance to fellow inmates, and more than met the standards set forth in California Penal Code section 4852.05, which states: "During the period of rehabilitation the person shall live an honest and upright life, shall conduct himself or herself with sobriety and industry, shall exhibit a good moral character, and shall conform to and obey the laws of the land." Joe is asking only that the Governor change his sentence to life WITH the possibility of parole. Joe is simply seeking the opportunity many in his same position have been granted: a chance to go before a parole board and plead his case. “In my opinion, Hunt has no inclination to re-offend. All of his activities appear directed towards positive goals,” wrote a correctional officer from Pleasant Valley State Prison. “He has a reputation for helping others. I would place him solidly in the top one percent as far as suitability for reintegration with society.” It’s testimonies like these — 47 in all are included with his application — that form the last remaining basis for Hunt’s hope of release. “I do hope that attention is drawn to the fight of people who have life without the possibility of parole,” Hunt said of the website his family has created to share information about his campaign for release, FreeJoeHunt.com. Hunt explained that like himself, many of his fellow inmates who have been incarcerated since their youth have made profound changes by the time they reach middle age. “So I do hope that society as a whole becomes acquainted with this fact and they make room for the fact that the the work they have done is redemptive, and possibility invite them back to that role in society.” Learn more at https://FreeJoeHunt.com