Topic

Wrongful Convictions

127 petitions

Update posted 14 hours ago

Petition to Governor Terry McAuliffe, Governor Ralph Northam

Decriminalize Autism and Save Drew

Our son, Drew Harrison, has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and is currently serving three active years of a 50-year prison sentence. Drew’s Autism was not taken into consideration at trial or sentencing. We are petitioning Governor McAuliffe to grant Drew a pardon. Drew reconnected with a woman he had dated in high school. The evening before inviting him to her apartment she shared her interest in BDSM, submissive sex. She told Drew that her boyfriend was too tired after work to please her sexually. Upon arrival she laid a blanket on the floor, she allowed him to massage her shoulders and feet, she showed him her semi-nude, erotic photos of herself and engaged in sexualized talk. In the bedroom he easily removed her shirt and pants. Drew gave the woman oral sex and put a finger in her vagina. When she told him to stop he stopped. The two of them texted and emailed back and forth hundreds of times post event. They even got together a few times. On one occasion they went to a bookstore where she pointed out an erotic BDSM book for Drew to buy. Six months after the evening in her apartment she reported to the police that the contact in her bedroom was nonconsensual. Those with ASD typically have a strike or two against them when entering a courtroom. The pace of questioning often exceeds their ability to process everything that is heard. Their high anxiety and repetitive statements can be mistaken as indicators of deception or guilt. Without an understanding of their unique way of processing information and their difficulty expressing anger appropriately a court can easily question credibility and reach a faulty conclusion.  Drew’s therapist testified that Drew has a strong desire to please, that he has learned to fake well in order to fit in. The judge interpreted this as our son’s ability to be deceitful and he used it as part of the reason for convicting Drew. He never asked the autism experts in the courtroom for clarification regarding Drew’s social and communication deficits.  In a letter presented to the judge Drew’s probation officer noted that Drew complied with all probation conditions for over two years. She stated that if this were a regular case without the appeal process she would request early release from probation. She added that Drew passed the state-issued polygraph without deception. Results were consistent with the not guilty plea Drew has maintained from the beginning.      The judge stated that he didn’t view Drew as a threat to the community or the woman. He emphasized that he was sending Drew to prison as a general deterrence to others because that is what the community would want him to do. Drew’s therapists are convinced that Drew is innocent of the crime for which he was convicted. They warned the court that incarceration would be torture for our son. In prison Drew suffered a break down after abrupt medication changes and being moved from isolation into general population. To deaden his senses from loud clanging doors, the bright buzzing lights and the chatter of inmates Drew often wears ear plugs and wraps a shirt around his head. He struggles to navigate the unwritten rules of inmates. Drew lives in fear and overwhelm. He begs us, “Please get me out of here”. Prison visits are bittersweet. We are grateful to spend time with our son, but heartbroken as we see him deteriorate. We are asking Governor McAuliffe to grant Drew a pardon. We ask for your support by signing this petition. My blog savedrew.com gives additional details and excerpts from transcripts. It shows the considerable reasonable doubt and injustice.  Thank you, Judy and John Harrison       

Judy Harrison
3,673 supporters
Started 2 weeks ago

Petition to Greg Abbott

Abolish the Texas Death Penalty

Texas statutes denote that pursuant to Penal Code 12.31: Capital Felony (a), “An individual adjudged guilty of a capital felony in a case in which the state seeks the death penalty shall be punished by imprisonment in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for life without parole or by death” (Texas Penal Code). The purpose of this petition is to gain support in hopes of altering the language of this statute to abolish the death penalty. Currently there are 19 states who have either found an alternative to the death penalty or abolished it entirely. This petition is particular to Texas, who has the leading number of executions with upwards of 550 since about 1982. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted by the United Nations in 1948, offers the right to life as well as the right to live free from torture (Amnesty International). The death penalty robs inmates of both of those rights. Additionally, there are those who fall victim to botched executions who then suffer an excruciating death. Texas Death Penalty Facts reports, “Since 1973, 161 individuals – including 13 people in Texas – have been released from death rows nationwide due to evidence of their wrongful conviction.” There are still those who proclaim their innocence and who have been exonerated, hopefully before they are executed. Carlos DeLuna. Ruben Cantu. Cameron Todd Willingham. Those are merely three individuals in Texas alone who were deemed innocent after they already suffered at the hands of the death penalty. That is not forget Gilmar Guevarra, Juan Castillo, Troy Clark, and hundreds of others who fell victim to wrongful convictions since the institution of the death penalty hundreds of years ago. I urge people to reach out to Governor Abbott and work alongside other organizations who strive to propose alternatives to the death penalty or work to gain support for its abolition. In our ever-changing society, values, morals, beliefs, but mostly the facts are stacked in favor of abolishing an age-old form of punishment that is no longer effective.  

Cali Carper
179 supporters
Update posted 2 weeks ago

Petition to Donald J. Trump, President of the United States

Please restore justice and pardon my dad!

  Dear Friends, Ten years ago, my dad, former Democratic Governor of Alabama Don Siegelman, was taken away in handcuffs and shackles.  Most who learned of his case saw it as a travesty of justice, including several prominent Republicans (see 60 Minutes).  Though released pending appeal for four years and despite unprecedented support, my father was returned to prison on September 11th 2012 to complete a nearly 7 year term because the Supreme Court refused to hear his case. The New York Times, The Washington Post, Fox Business News, MSNBC, CBS, Harper's, Time Magazine, The American Trial Lawyers, Huffington Post, The Guardian, 113 former state Attorneys General, top Constitutional Law Professors, and many others say this case is erroneous and Don Siegelman never commited a crime. He was convicted of an implied quid pro quo, that is an inferred bribe, or a bribe without explicit proof of agreement or self-enrichment scheme.  He was never accused of benefiting, at all.  I need your help to right this injustice.  Please sign this petition to President Trump asking him to restore justice and pardon Don Siegelman!  Why Sign? Gov. Don Siegelman was the 51st Governor of Alabama, serving from 1999 to 2003. He served in Alabama in public office for 26 years and is the only person in the history of the state to be elected to serve in all four of the top statewide elected positions: Secretary of State, Attorney General, Lieutenant Governor and Governor.  He was essentially the longest running Democrat in the Southeast. My dad was wrongfully convicted in 2007 in a case that Pace Law Professor Bennett Gershman called "one of the most egregiously bad faith prosecutions by the Justice Department ever.” Numerous public servants such as Al Gore, John Kerry, and Wesley Clark believe my father was wrongly prosecuted and wrongly convicted.  The American Trial Lawyer Magazine has called Dad America's "Political Prisoner #1." The New York Times said my dad was charged with something that has never even been considered a crime in America, and CBS’ 60 Minutes reported that the prosecution team coached key witness Nick Bailey more than 70 times and offered him a deal to testify against my father.  Conservative columnist George Will expressed in The Washington Post, “Everyone who cares about the rule of law should hope the Supreme Court agrees to hear Don Siegelman’s appeal….today’s confusion and the resulting prosecutorial discretion kill the exercise of Constitutional right, of political participation and can imprison people unjustly.” More than 100 state Attorney Generals, both Republican and Democrat, many law professors, and thousands of people like you, have tried to help, garnering the attention of the media, organizing letter campaigns, and writing excellent articles, but ultimately the case was left to the courts.  Even Fox Business News sympathized with Dad! 113 current and former state Attorney Generals from across the U.S. signed a brief to the U.S. Congress and Supreme Court saying, “There is reason to believe that the case brought against Governor Siegelman may have had sufficient irregularities as to call into question the basic fairness that is the linchpin of our system of justice.” Fred Gray, attorney to Rosa Parks, and Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth, both close companions to the late Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., came to court to hold my mom's hand the day of sentencing in 2007. They wrote letters to the Department of Justice, to Congress, and to the President to convey that Don Siegelman is the “target of the Bush Justice Department, which has now endangered the style of government we fought so hard for.” However, this is not about Democrats versus Republicans, far from it.  It is simply about what's right and wrong, what is fair and what is not.  As Thomas Jefferson said, "A prosecutor who alleges enough wrong doing will always get a conviction."  Former U.S. Attorney General Robert H. Jackson said, "If the prosecutor is obliged to choose his cases, it follows that he can choose his defendants. Therein is the most dangerous power..." This petition is much more than just one man's freedom.  It is about American freedom. If this can happen to my dad, as governor, it can happen to anyone.  The law is so unclear, all it takes is a prosecutor with a vendetta against you.  As Dad explained when the surprise verdict came in 2007; “This is dangerous to our democracy and it is wrong. If this ruling stands, rogue prosecutors or a rogue Justice Department can prosecute contributors and elected officials they simply do not like.” Please join me in asking President Trump to pardon my dad. Al Gore appealed, "Don Siegelman isn't just fighting for his freedom - he's fighting for the integrity of our democracy... As Americans, we have a responsibility to protect our democracy from those who would take advantage of it and abuse their power.” Our hope for truth lies in holding our elected officials accountable. Our hope for justice is a great public outcry. Please join me in asking the President of the United States for a pardon in my dad’s case by signing the petition on Change.org and sharing this message publicly however you can. By doing so we may one day clarify the law and keep our democracy and freedom intact. Thank you so much for considering the facts and helping me free my dad! With the greatest appreciation, Dana Siegelman

Dana Siegelman
67,725 supporters