Topic

criminal justice reform

214 petitions

Update posted 1 hour ago

Petition to The Governor of Oklahoma & Pardon and Parole Board

Julius Jones is innocent. Don't let him be executed by the state of Oklahoma.

When Julius Jones was 19-years-old, he was convicted of a murder he says he did not commit. I need your help to save his life. Julius has lived on death row for almost 20 years, and is held in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day. He is allowed one hour of sunlight a day, and three showers a week. Every minute we wait to take action, Julius is suffering. Every second that goes by brings Julius closer to being executed for a crime he didn’t commit.  At the time of the crime for which he was convicted, Julius was a 19-year-old student athlete with a promising future, attending the University of Oklahoma on an academic scholarship. It is clear that Julius’ lawyer did not adequately defend him, and that explicit racial bias played a significant role in the process.. For example: Eyewitnesses place Mr. Jones at his parents’ home at the time of the murder, miles away from the crime scene.  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’ co-defendant matches the only eyewitness description of the shooter based on the length of his hair. Newly-discovered evidence 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.”  I learned about Julius’ story through Viola Davis’ docuseries “The Last Defense.” As a person of color and a person of faith, I knew that I couldn’t stand by while an innocent man was killed. I am an Oklahoma taxpayer and the idea that my money will be used to kill Julius makes me sick.  Every day an innocent man is forced to sit in solitary confinement, awaiting his death.  Recently, a grassroots movement successfully pressured Texas to stay the execution of Rodney Reed, another black man sentenced to death for a crime he says he didn’t commit. If we can save Rodney, then Julius has a chance. Please join me and demand justice for Julius.

Cece Jones-Davis (Julius Jones Coalition)
6,115,996 supporters
Update posted 2 days ago

Petition to Ralph Northam, Kelly Thomasson, Justin Fairfax

Please Help an Accomplished Military Veteran Regain His Freedom!!

Governor of Virginia: U.S. Military Veteran with Mental Health History Seeking 2nd Chance at Freedom. I'm posting this petition for my son, MarQui Clardy, Sr. I’ll start with some background information on MarQui's character and the circumstances that led to his present situation. MarQui is a 33 year old father of four. On September 24, 2001, two weeks after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, he joined the United States Navy. He served as an Information Systems Technician while also attending ECPI University and serving as a Ship's Self-Defense Force (SSDF) team leader where he received intensive weapons, combat, and antiterrorism training. He was deployed to the Persian Gulf in 2003 for Operation Iraq Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Two weeks prior to being discharged in 2005, MarQui was referred to a psychiatrist (due to some behavioral deviations, hallucinations, and a suicidal preoccupation) where he was diagnosed with "Adjustment Disorder." The psychiatrist noted that MarQui had a "major impairment in [his] thinking and judgement, manifested by inflexible thinking." Despite this clinical assessment, MarQui wasn't given any treatment, counseling, medications, or even a follow-up appointment, nor was he made aware of the diagnosis. He was simply released from service and left to transition back into civilian life on his own. In 2006, MarQui enrolled at Old Dominion University to study computer science. This is where his financial troubles began. After his car was totaled in a flash flood, he lost his job due to a lack of transportation. He was able to find a succession of other lower paying jobs, but lost each of them for the same reason. As a result, he defaulted on his tuition payments, so his school registration was placed on hold. He also defaulted on his rent, and was notified by his landlord that he was being evicted from his apartment. Being jobless, carless, moneyless, facing imminent homelessness (without even the ability to improve his circumstances by finishing his college degree), and not able to financially support himself or his children caused an unfathomable amount of stress that likely triggered MarQui's Adjustment Disorder, and he made the ill decision to commit three robberies to get some money. In 2008, he was arrested and tried in court. Since the military had never notified MarQui of his mental health diagnosis, this information was never presented for the judge's consideration (even though MarQui's condition undoubtedly played a MAJOR factor in his decision to aberrantly break the law). MarQui was convicted on all charges; although he has a good background, no prior criminal history, and absolutely no physical violence had occurred in either offense, the judge sentenced him to 33 years in prison. MarQui just learned about his mental health diagnosis in 2014, six years after being incarcerated. He has taken full responsibility for his actions, however, we must also recognize the military's role in discharging him back into society while neglecting to treat the mental health condition with which THEY diagnosed him! There's no limit to the behavioral effects that "impaired thinking and judgement" can have on those afflicted, especially if it's left untreated. Even the Department of Defense acknowledges that untreated mental health conditions among veterans pose a greater safety threat than those which are being treated. In MarQui's case, his impairment went untreated for three entire years, leading up to him making the poor decision to break the law. His background shows that he clearly was not a criminally-inclined person. Had the military treated his condition before discharging him, or even afterward at one of the V.A. medical centers, it’s very likely that MarQui would have exercised better judgement and not committed those robberies. In addition to the post-conviction discovery of MarQui's mental health diagnosis, he has made tremendous rehabilitative strides throughout his incarceration, including:   * Completing college classes through Washington and Lee University in 2015 and 2016;   * Completing VA DOC's Computer Concepts / Business Software Applications course, and becoming a certified Data Entry Clerk, Administrative Clerk, PC Operator, and Word Processor Operator;   * Completing personal rehabilitative programs through Northstar Community and Bar None / Willow Creek Association;   * Completing faith-based courses through Emmaus Correspondence School, Crossroads Prison Ministries, Prisoners 4 Christ Outreach Ministries, Bon Air Baptist Church, Gospel Express Evangelical School, and Prison Mission Association; MarQui has also enrolled in all of the requisite DOC rehabilitative programs, remained free of institutional infractions, maintained employment, including as a GED tutor, remained an active member of incarcerated veterans support groups throughout DOC, and been consistently assessed as a "very low" risk of recidivism and "very low" risk of violent recidivism by VA DOC's COMPAS assessment. He has also written a novel, which is published on Amazon, and several articles on social justice for Hamilton College, The Marshall Project, Cell Door Magazine, the Virginia Prison Justice Network. Since March of 2029, MarQui has also been working with Interfaith Action for Human Rights, which is an organization that works to shift the focus of incarceration from retribution rehabilitation. MarQui writes monthly essays - which IAHR publishes in their newsletters - on important prison topics to help give advocates a more clear understanding of solitary confinement, medical treatment, and general day-to-day life on the inside. [Links to these newsletters are included in the petition updates.] As a result of his hard work and accomplishments, Redemptive Life Foundation has filed a clemency petition on MarQui's behalf, asking Governor Ralph Northam to reduce his prison sentence to a more fair and proportionate one which will allow him to return home soon. Supporters in the community, throughout the state, and across the nation are advocating on MarQui's behalf; however, we're seeking even more support to ensure that he gets the chance he has worked hard for. After more than a dozen years in prison, JUSTICE HAS BEEN SERVED!! MarQui broke the law, however, given the fact that he was suffering from an unknown and untreated mental illness, his 33 year sentence is unfair and unjust. It is also a disservice to all those who have served in our nation's military and were left physically and/or mentally impaired. MarQui has shown, not only throughout his incarceration, but throughout his life, what type of person he truly is. That is why we ask you to please sign this petition to help him get him. Thank you!

Dianna Clardy
421 supporters
Update posted 2 days ago

Petition to John Carney, Delaware State House, Delaware State Senate, Christopher A. Coons, Thomas R. Carper, Lisa Blunt Rochester, United States Supreme Court, Delaware

Justice for Dwayne white (aggravated sentencing)

Dear Family and Friends, I hope by the time you all are reading this you and your family are safe and in good spirits. The purpose of this letter is to address the issues of aggravated sentencing and work toward change. Aggravated sentencing is defined as: Aggravating circumstances refers to factors that increases the severity or culpability of a criminal act. Typically, the presence of an aggravating circumstance will lead to a harsher penalty for a convicted criminal. Some generally recognized aggravating circumstances include heinousness of the crime, lack of remorse, and prior conviction of another crime. Recognition of particular aggravating circumstances varies by jurisdiction. October 18, 2019, Delaware State Prosecutor (Mark Denney) recommended a term of 70yrs following a guilty verdict from my trial. The judge (Honorable Judge Cooch) decided to sentence me to 54yrs of incarceration under Statue 4204 k. Under this statue, I am unable to accrue any “good time”, I will not be eligible for any type of early release which is earned through work programs, good behavior, and other early release programs. Prior to trial, a pre-sentence investigation was completed and based off criminal history it was deemed a 2-5-year sentence would be suitable. Prior to my current charges I incurred one felony charge approximately 7+ years ago and have not been arrested for any other major criminal behavior since.  The purpose of this letter is to bring awareness to the excessive sentencing that I have been subjected to. My bail was set at 2 million dollars which is insane for the charges that the state stacked on me, and I never was offered a Plea, just forced to stay in prison and away from my family from the very beginning. I have never been a threat to my community, and I am not a violent individual. I am a father of 5 young girls who need me, I am a husband, a brother, and a friend to many in my community. My fight is so that I can be present in the lives of my family who need me. Aggravated sentencing contributes to a vast majority of minorities serving extensive prison terms as well as mass incarceration. I ask for the support of those in my community as well as those who have been impacted by the injustices of “excessive sentencing” in hopes to make a change and be given another chance. Respectfully, Dwayne White  

Nyeesha White
5,076 supporters
Update posted 7 days ago

Petition to Sussex County Commonwealth Attorney, Governor of Virginia, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia

Terrence Richardson and Ferrone Claiborne have been wrongfully incarcerated for 20+ years

                               The Story of  #NotGuiltyServingLife · On the morning of April 25, 1998, at roughly 11:00 AM, Officer Gibson was shot in the abdomen in the woods behind the Waverly Village apartment complex in Waverly, Virginia. · Before he died, Officer Gibson gave distinct descriptions of his assailants, specifically that “one of them had dreadlocks” · Two witnesses were immediately known to police; a 10-year-old girl who was playing nearby with her 5-year-old cousin and a 15-year-old girl who called 911 after hearing the gunshot. · One of the two witnesses gave a written statement describing a man with “dreadlocks running from the scene” and identified a person in a lineup that WAS NOT Terrence and Ferrone. · Terrence was 27 years old at the time of the shooting, is short in stature with a slender build and closely cropped cornrows, braided towards the back of his head. Ferrone was 22 years old at the time of the shooting, tall, with a slender build and a bald haircut. Clearly, neither Terrence nor Ferrone matched the description of either assailant as described by Officer Gibson. · Despite the detailed description of the suspects given by Officer Gibson, Investigators undertook what can only be described as a round-up of many young black men in the area. · Black males in Waverly, Virginia were gathered and interrogated until they provided the Investigators with any random name or submitted to a lie detector test. · It is still unclear why Investigators chose to ignore the witness identification, but on April 26, 1998, Terrence was arrested and charged with the capital murder of Officer Gibson. Two days later, on April 28, 1998, Ferrone was also arrested and charged with the capital murder of Officer Gibson. · In what can only be described as unheard of, both Terrence and Ferrone, two black men accused of killing a white police officer in the line of duty, were granted bail, and would later bond out of jail. · Initially, Terrence and Ferrone pled not guilty to the charges lodged against them, but on December 8, 1999, in fear of the death penalty and at the urgency of inadequate Attorney’s, they accepted unprecedented plea deals for anyone suspected of killing a police officer. · Both men made it clear on record that they maintained their innocence, but accepted plea deals in fear of being put to death. Terrence pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter and Ferrone pled guilty to accessory after the fact of involuntary manslaughter. · On March 8, 2000. Terrence was sentenced to ten years in the state penitentiary with five years suspended, to be followed by two years on probation. Ferrone was sentenced to 12 months in custody, which equated to time served and he was released. · Both men thought their nightmare journey was over, until less than a year later when they were indicted by the FBI for the same murder of Officer Gibson, as well as several fabricated drug charges. · Terrence and Ferrone were charged with selling hundreds of Kilos of cocaine; yet, there were no drugs, proceeds from drugs, proof of drug deals, fancy cars, jewelry, drug paraphernalia, absolutely nothing to support these charges besides testimony from several drug dealers who testified in exchange for their own freedom.   · The Jury found Terrence and Ferrone not guilty of the murder of Officer Gibson, but based solely on the testimony of witnesses, they found them guilty of one drug count. · The drug conviction would have resulted in a maximum penalty of 20 years. However, the Court enhanced the sentence of Terrence and Ferrone to Life in prison based in large part to the state court guilty pleas. · The Court relied on the decision in United States v. Watts, 519 U.S. 148, 156 (1997), which permits the Court to make a finding of guilt by a preponderance of the evidence, even if found not guilty. Life After Justice (LAJ) a 501c(3) public charity(tax ID #01064823) that litigates, advocates and provides mental health support to men and women wrongfully convicted; brings this petition on behalf of Terrence and Ferrone’s fight for justice. Terrence and Ferrone have adamantly maintained their innocence since day one. We need 1 Million signatures to urge the Sussex County Commonwealth Attorney, Governor of Virginia and United States Attorney to do the following: 1.   Withdraw the State Court guilty pleas, and/or 2.   Grant Clemency, and/or 3.   Exonerate Terrence and Ferrone. The Court of Law has failed them, so The Court of Public Outcry must save them!

Life After Justice
11,684 supporters