Welcome to the National Capital Crime Assitance Network
Big News for 2017!
We were offered a matching grant if we could collect $15,000 or more in donations, and we just got the last donation that will allow us to collect the matchiing grant! Donate now to have your gift doubled by the end of the year!
Many of you will have known us as NDRAN of CURE, but we have a new name, and a new look! NCCAN works with innocent prisoners who are facing the death penalty, capital charges, or life without parole. We provide many essential services to these people and their families.
Our work consists of providing support to innocent people who have been unjustly imprisoned and their families. We also have fundraising initiatives to raise money for specific projects, such as retaining an attorney for a prisoner who is ready to take their case back into court.
You May Ask, "Aren't all people in prison guilty?"
The answer to this question is no. There are many avenues by which an innocent person can find him/her self in prison for the long term. These include unreliable eyewitness testimony, police corruption, and the misuse of prison informants. Statistics show that as many as 10% of the prison population may be innocent. Since the advent of DNA evidence, there have been 263 DNA exoneration, and the number continues to grow.
The Whole Truth
Richard A. Leo On Why Innocent People Confess To Crimes
by Mark Leviton
In 1983 the police in Fauquier County, Virginia, arrested Earl Washington, a twenty-two-year-old, mentally disabled farmhand. He was a suspect in a burglary, but during two days of uestioning, detectives asked him about five other crimes. Washington, who had the IQ of a ten year old, confessed to all of them. Though four of the cases against him were dismissed, he was convicted of the fifth, a brutal rape and murder, and sentenced to death.
Washington spent a total of seventeen years in prison before he was exonerated by DNA evidence in 2000. Five different appellate courts — including the U.S. Supreme Court — had upheld his conviction.
Confessions are seen as the gold standard of evidence in a trial, but cases like Washington’s are more common than people think.
Law professor Richard A. Leo has spent several decades trying to bring attention to the problem of false confessions. The public has not always been supportive of his efforts. The average citizen, he says, presumes suspects are guilty and believes they deserve whatever they get.
Leo’s work has been cited by the Supreme Court, and he’s been involved in many high-profle cases in which people have given false confessions, including the West Memphis Three and the Central Park Five. In 2010 he was featured in a PBS Frontline documentary about the Norfolk Four, who were the subject of Leo’s book, co-written with Tom Wells, "The Wrong Guys."
To understand how the police coerce an innocent suspect into admitting guilt, Leo has examined interrogation techniques, undergoing the appropriate training and sitting in on nearly two hundred interrogations. He says the problem is not necessarily a matter of misconduct by detectives, most of whom are “decent people who follow the rules.” Rather it’s a pattern of errors resulting from misguided methods and a presumption that police have arrested the guilty party.
Born in Italy, Leo grew up in Southern California, where his family moved when he was three. He describes himself as an “accidental lawyer”: while earning his PhD in social psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, in the early nineties, he was given the opportunity to earn a doctorate of jurisprudence concurrently almost for free. (He’s proud of having completed both degrees in four years.) He never wanted to practice law in a courtroom, but he’s often been called as an expert witness or hired as a consultant.
Currently the Hamill Family Professor of Law and Psychology at the University of San Francisco, Leo is the author of several books, including "Confessions of Guilt and The Miranda Debate", and he’s won awards from the American Society of Criminology, the Society for the Study of Social Problems, and the American Psychological Association. Before coming to the University of San Francisco, he taught at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and the University of California, Irvine. He has eight-year-old twin daughters and in his spare time plays guitar and is an avid boxing fan.
I met with Leo one rainy afternoon this past winter. He’d just changed offices and apologized for the mess; his shelves overﬂowed with law books. We spoke for two hours, and he often shook his head or laughed uncomfortably at the tragic absurdities of our criminal-justice system.
This article was published by The Sun, July 2017. To read the full article, click here.
2017- AN EXCITING AND SUCCESSFUL YEAR FOR NCCAN
In February, a Circuit Court judge from Wayne County, Michigan, granted Bernard Young’s Motion for Relief from Judgment. Subsequently, Bernard walked out of prison a free man. One of the two brothers who were molested as children gave emotonal testmony that it was his stepfather who had sexually abused both boys and threatened to kill them if they didn’t implicate Bernard. The prosecutor actually had this informaton at the tme the case went to trial, but it was hidden from the defense. Bernard was convicted for a crime he did not commit. Unbelievably, the State has appealed the ruling of the judge to the Court of Appeals.
NCCAN has been the moving force behind Bernard’s case. NCCAN found the brothers, now in their 30’s, and obtained afadavits from them. NCCAN brought Tommie to Michigan from Kansas where he met with the University of Michigan Innocence Clinic students and faculty. He also visited with Bernard and apologized to him, saying his stepfather threatened to kill the boys and their mother if they didn’t implicate Bernard. Once Bernard felt his case was not moving forward at the Clinic, NCCAN hired his lawyer, Solomon Radner.
Also last winter, an NCCAN client called and suggested that we get a man named Marwin McHenry reviewed and accepted by the University of Michigan Innocence Clinic. The caller told me that someone else had confessed to the crime and proof of innocence should be easy. Our good relatonship with the Clinic placed Mr. McHenry in front of the line and he was exonerated in May.
And then on June 1, afer working 7 years with Claudia Whitman and some great University of Michigan law students, long tme NCCAN friend and client, Desmond Ricks, was exonerated. Claudia was there in court with him when the judge apologized for the 25 years of wrongful incarceraton that Michigan had imposed upon him. Dez is reunited with his two daughters and six grandchildren and has already been granted the right to receive $50,000 for every year he served in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Crime Watch Daily, which has worked with the U. Michigan Innocence Clinic previously and won numerous awards for its documentaries on cases, is producing a TV show on Desmond’s case. They did the filming recently at the office of the civil atorney NCCAN found for Dez. The flm will show how the Innocence Clinic and I got Dez’s case back into court and secured his fnal exoneraton.
Also this year NCCAN has been able to expand NCCAN’s offerings to include hiring lawyers at reduced fees when innocence projects can’t take the cases that have been worked on. NCCAN pre-investgates the cases and contnues as part of the legal team. Rather than asking for pro-bono partcipaton, NCCAN is forming a team where everyone understands that poor people just don’t have the resources for full price representaton. Because staff doesn't take a salary or charge clients, NCCAN can find respected atorneys who are willing to step up to the plate with lower fees.
We currently have 5 lawyers working on 6 cases plus one case still awaitng a ruling through the U. Michigan Innocence Clinic. NCCAN has also agreed to do the investgaton on one case where the client’s wife was able to work out a payment plan on her own, even though she is a doctoral student with two kids.
At NCCAN we encourage this model of family involvement. Likewise, NCCAN expects strong directon from the client. Communicaton and teamwork are our goals for an across-the-board buy-in focused on success.
As a result of our hard work and your generous contributons this year, 3 men are free and 7 have legal representaton!
Don't Stop Now!
But the need contnues and the letters for help keep pouring in.
This year your contributons will mean more than ever.
That’s because we have a Matching Grant. If we can raise $15,000 from friends and generous supporters like you, an individual donor will send a check for $15,000 to match your donatons. With our annual fundraising leter we traditonally raise about $10,000. So $15,000 is a bit of a stretch. But we hope you will come through for NCCAN, knowing that every dollar you give will be doubled. This money will enable us to contnue hiring good lawyers who understand the need for aﬀordable fees and teamwork. And remember, because we never charge clients and I volunteer my tme, everything that you donate goes directly to helping our clients get the justice they deserve.
That’s what NCCAN is all about.
Thank you in advance for your ongoing support. As a team, we have brought hope to people who never thought they would get their opportunity for justice.
Call To Action
Our cause demands attention and consideration, and we hope that we can make a case for your participation and/or donations. Click on the "Donate" button on any page to contribute.
Amazon, the giant online shopping network, Has a parrallel network called "Amazon Smile". AmazonSmile is a website operated by Amazon with the same products, prices, and shopping features as Amazon.com. The difference is that when you shop on AmazonSmile, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price of eligible products to the charitable organization of your choice. If all of our supporters would use Amazon Smile, our income from that source would come to hundreds of dollars per year! Please choose "National Death Row Assitance Network of Cure" (our old moniker) as your designated charity for the money to come to us.
2016 Innocence Network Conference
In April, NCCAN director, Claudia Whitman, attended the annual Innocence Network Conference which was held this year in San Antonio. The Conference is a wonderful opportunity to get to know some of the exonerees and to hear their stories. This year there were more than 150 exonerees present at the conference, some of whom had been released from prison as recently as a month or two before the Conference.
During the two day event, there are several types of workshops. Some are exclusively for exonerees and deal with the specific issues they are facing as returning citizens such as a need for counseling, finding jobs and housing, reintegration into the community, writing resumes, public speaking and issues around compensation for their years of wrongful incarceration. Other workshops are for the legal and advocacy communities and address forensic topics, investigation strategies, litigation skills, newly discovered evidence, mental disabilities, difficult clients, starting an innocence project, just to name a few.
After the official conference ends each year, there is a get together for all attendees in a local pub with live music provided by the exonerees. This year it was at the Buckhorn Saloon and Texas Ranger Museum. It provides all attendees with a chance to relax and have some fun together after an intense couple of days.
Overall, the Conference is a wonderful opportunity to network as well as to learn. And for people working to free innocent men and women from wrongful conviction, it is a chance to see the fruit of their hard work and to share with the exonerees the final triumph of gaining their freedom.
Copyright 2015 - Created by Helen Stevens - firstname.lastname@example.org