What an amazing year we have had at NDRAN! We changed our name. We are now doing business as NCCAN, the National Capital Crime Assistance Network. Because we work on many cases that are not death row cases, we feel the new name is more appropriate. Checks can still be made out to either NDRAN or NCCAN.
To honor the new name, Helen Stevens, a friend and former student, took it upon herself to design our new website. Please go to https.nccan.org and have a look! Best of all, Helen is also administering the site as an ongoing gift to the organization.
Help For Detroit Prisoners
Our biggest news is that we were able to hire lawyers for three Detroit prisoners whose cases were reviewed but not accepted by the U. Michigan Innocence Clinic. We raised $5000 through a crowd funding campaign on Indiegogo and were able to hire Lacino Hamilton’s lawyer, Mary Chartier. She reminded me that $5000 was nothing when it comes to the cost of ongoing appeals and litigation, but her team accepted his case on a partial pro bono basis with my ongoing agreement to investigate. Another highly recommended lawyer, Solomon Radner, agreed to take two other cases, Danny Burton and Bernard Young under the same model.
Meanwhile, the U. Michigan Innocence Clinic accepted NCCAN’s referral of the case of Desmond Ricks after several years of intensive review. And the Clinic finally achieved a favorable ruling on Karl Vinson’s application for Habeas Corpus. After many years of waiting, he has been granted the right to file for relief from judgment. Since three separate tests show that Mr. Vinson could not have committed the crime, everyone is excited and relieved that he can at last re-petition the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.
NCCAN has been working with two outstanding journalists this year. David Krajicek wrote a fascinating article on the lack of exonerations in this country for second-tier (non-murder) felonies. I was able to interest David in the Alabama case of Aaron Johnson and he was awarded a grant from the Center for Investigative Reporting to write about this case. That article is due out in December. Aaron Cantu published two articles on NCCAN cases, one for Truthout Magazine and one recently for The Intercept. (See links below). We hope this kind of in-depth writing that ties NCCAN cases to larger issues will help individuals with their innocence claims and also educate the public.
As NCCAN’s director, I presented a workshop on “Racism and Environmental Issues” this year at the Prisoners’ Family Conference in Dallas. I also joined The Exoneration Registry team as a research fellow.
And finally, Cell Door is going to press almost as I write after a year’s hiatus. Watch for your issue in the mail.
As always, NCCAN cannot do this work without your help. Because of your generosity, three men who have been in prison for over 20 years now have lawyers working to free them. I am currently in talks with another lawyer about exchanging my investigative services for her taking on a case. That would make 4 men with lawyers! Cell Door Magazine continues to reach over 2000 incarcerated individuals for free. And I am able to travel to do the critical investigations that were never done at the time of conviction. This year I was able to attend the Innocence Network Conference where over 300 wrongfully-convicted persons told their stories. One of the exonerees and emcees was Jeff Deskovic, a NCCAN success story. Jeff now directs a foundation he started to help other wrongfully convicted men and women. He continues to honor NCCAN for opening up his path to freedom.
Thank you for your ongoing support. As a team, we have brought hope to people who never thought they would get a chance to see justice.
Recent Email from Lacino to Claudia:
"…turned 41 yesterday. Yes, I'm still young, relatively speaking, but it doesn't escape me that yesterday was the 22nd consecutive birthday I spent incarcerated. I pray that this year giant steps are taken to get me back to my life. I would like to thank you for the support. It really made the past year more bearable. I know I like to give the impression that I have it all together, but many days I'm a mess: frustrated, angry, anxious, some level of sad. Knowing that you are here for me and wishing me the best, and sending books, encouraging me, I mean all the wonderful things you do that you may not think much about, mean so much to me and I would like you to know I appreciate them very much."