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Many times conscious prisoners become lost in their own image and forget the representation of the people as a whole. Our loss came with the death of Hugo Pinell. His introduction is not needed. He helped bring life to a generation that had not – and some still to this day still have not – forgotten the bigger picture. As conscious prisoners and political prisoners behind enemy lines, we as a community cannot forget to reach out to his daughter.
My message is not just to the men and women in these solitary holes. I myself am in one right now. My message is to the whole 2.5 million victims of mass incarceration and prison slavery. Everyone! All of us around the country, let’s just shut down. Wherever you are, just stop working. If you are in solitary confinement, spread the word to those rotating in and out. When they try to lock up those who organize and lead the shutdowns in population, don’t even give up.
In reference to my case as told in the June issue of the Bay View, I have connected with Eric Brown, attorney Mummi Ibrahim and Rev. Melvin Slack, who is a candidate to be the next mayor of Shreveport. Slack is about positive change and he promotes Black-on-Black love. Pastor Brown is also supporting my cause, freedom. He is orchestrating a rally to stop wrongful convictions in Louisiana.
In the words of Lorenzo “Cat” Johnson, his situation is “intolerable.” He speaks for all innocent prisoners. It is estimated that in the United States 100,000 or more factually innocent people are in prison. Many, like Lorenzo, are on “slow death row,” serving life without parole. Action for Lorenzo Johnson’s freedom is part the fight for all the innocent in prison and a challenge to this system of injustice.
Lorenzo “Cat” Johnson’s story is an excruciatingly clear example of an innocent man caught in a corrupt process. The state has worked overtime to keep him locked up for life. Evidence was falsified by the police and prosecution. And when a federal appeals court ruled this so-called evidence was legally insufficient to convict, the U.S. Supreme Court stepped in and reinstated his conviction.
The Scottsboro Boys have been vindicated, but there are many more waiting in the wings – waiting for justice. It is often said that justice delayed is justice denied. Many years have passed in so many unresolved civil rights crimes and injustices. And if no one is prepared to step up and pursue these cases, we must wonder if justice will ever come.
The California Innocence Project director, Professor Justin P. Brooks, along with attorneys Alissa Bjerkhoel and Michael Semanchik, will walk 600 miles from San Diego to Sacramento to protest the incarceration of their innocent clients, bring attention to the cause of wrongful convictions, and present clemency petitions for 12 clients, “The California 12,” to Gov. Jerry Brown.
The much-publicized brutality and inhumane conditions suffered by prisoners in solitary confinement worldwide has once again sparked global debates on the unprecedented urgency of prison abolition and, by default, on the implementation of community-led restorative justice programs. Over the past two to three decades, the global penal system has turned increasingly roughshod and its practices have grown greatly abusive.
For 16 and a half years, I fought with every breath in my body to prove my innocence. On Oct. 5, 2011, the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals vacated my life sentence on the grounds of “insufficient evidence,” which is equal to a not guilty verdict, barring a retrial. Under the appeal issue on which my conviction was overturned, I was eligible for immediate release.
In a letter to the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles, former death row inmates who have been exonerated ask that the execution of Troy Davis be halted due to serious doubts about his guilt.
The U.S. Constitution requires that an accused person who lacks the means to hire a lawyer is provided one. Yet budget cuts are forcing public defenders to turn away defendants who have no other legal recourse.