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Absolute power corrupts absolutely, or however the saying goes, which is how the District Attorney’s Office in Dallas County, Dallas, Texas has been operating from the early 1990s up to today. It’s highly possible that these same corrupt tactics have been used way before what I’m about to describe, but I choose to focus on the documented events I was able to witness and research. This includes an outright wrongful conviction campaign by D.A. Jason January.
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.
Too often people wrongly convicted are thought to simply be suffering from the prison sentence itself. Well, I am a father; my son Marqesye had straight A pluses in 2005, when I was free. I was arrested on Dec. 15, 2005, by a corrupt DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) agent who had given false and misleading testimony before a grand jury to have me indicted for drug conspiracy a day or two earlier.
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.
This morning we lost without a doubt the biggest, bravest and brashest personality in the political prisoner world. On Oct. 4, 2013, Herman Wallace, an icon of the modern prison reform movement and an innocent man, died a free man after spending an unimaginable 41 years in solitary confinement. Herman spent the last four decades of his life fighting against all that is unjust in the criminal justice system, making international the inhuman plight that is long term solitary confinement and struggling to prove that he was an innocent man.
The Constitution guarantees every American the right to a fair trial and to face his or her accusers. This right has been denied to African Americans, who make up a larger and larger part of the prison population under America’s “New Jim Crow.” In the case of Kerry Baxter Sr., the California Superior Court system here in Alameda County blatantly ignored his rights.
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.
My husband, Robbie James Riva, who currently resides at Calipatria State Prison, has maintained his innocence for the past 11 years. After his appeal was denied in 2009 and there was no more money to pay an attorney, I decided to take it on myself. We put our minds together, our strength, our love and we told each other we could do this and we did. He wrote his appeal himself with the documents I sent him.
Imagine you were framed again by prison gang officers using a tattoo you got as a child and a symbol in a birthday card to “validate” you as a “prison gang associate” and label you “worst of the worst” and placed in segregation in a Security Housing Unit, or SHU, for years on end. That is what happened to my childhood best friend and husband, Robbie Riva.
I am writing to ask you to help fight for Troy’s life. Troy Davis is on death row for the 1989 murder of police officer Mark MacPhail in Savannah, Ga. Troy has always maintained his innocence, and there was never any physical evidence linking him to the crime.