Record number of exonerations in 2015

The National Registry of Exonerations just reported that in 2015, a record number of 149 people were exonerated in the US. Of these, over 50 were homicide cases.

On average, these exonerees had served 15 years for crimes they did not commit.

This is a good start, but not nearly enough. There are still far too many — including Lorenzo — who remain wrongfully incarcerated.

An article by Mother Jones delves deeper into these statistics, and the entire report can be found here.

What New Year’s means to Innocent Prisoners, their Families and Supporters

What New Year’s means to Innocent Prisoners, their Families and Supporters

In regular society, this time of the year is celebrated in many different ways. Every
News Channel shows huge groups of people coming together. What’s not being shown is the struggle of innocent Prisoners, their families and supporters.

I’m one of MANY innocent prisoners and unfortunately I’ve been incarcerated over 19 years. Most of us do not celebrate New Year’s. We (Innocent Prisoners) hold on to the hope that, this year our innocence finally comes out, a judge Grants our pending appeal, the prosecution drops their prosecution, we find the evidence or witness that will exonerate us. For those of us who do not have a lawyer or support, we hope that an investigator, lawyer or Innocence Organization hears our cry and comes to our aid. Some of us are in better situations than others, and in some of our cases, we are on Death Row with a date to die and time is not on our side.

The majority of us comes from low-income families. Wrongful Convictions hits us the hardest. For most of us, our families lose hope and faith as the years pass that we will be vindicated. In some of our situations, we come up with the evidence needed to clear us or show we didn’t receive a fair trial, but due to strict procedures that have been put in place, our Innocence claims are fought against by Malicious Prosecutors arguing our claims are untimely and should be dismissed. These prosecutors is NOT out for Justice but to maintain a conviction. The sad thing is, Judges deny our appeals due to strict guidelines in our appeal process. As if you can put a strict time on showing Innocence.

Family and supporters of innocent Prisoners on New Year’s pray that, New Laws and legislation is passed to help assist us. But, most of the time, the only New Laws and Legislation that are passed, are ones that limit our access to the courts. Thanks to social media, our stories are being heard and some of us began to get the assistance we need to combat our Injustice. Below are some of our statistics:

* Exoneree’s spent an average of 11 years in prison: ten (10) were exonerated posthumously or died in prison. Roughly 50 percent of the cases involved African American defendants. Source: (University of Michigan law professor Samuel Gross).
* Of the 400 million serious criminal cases prosecutors have handled since 1989, at least 2,061 of them were wrongful convictions, according to a new report. Source: (John Zich/CORBIS).
* 2,061 Total known number of inmates and ex-convicts exonerated of serious crimes since 1989, according to the new report.
* 400 million serious (non-traffic) cases prosecutors have handled since 1989, according to the National District Attorneys Association.
* 891 specific wrongful convictions cases detailed in the National Registry of Exonerations.
* 93 percent of the exonerated was men.
* 10,000 combined time, in years, the 891 exonerated prisoners spent behind bars.
* 1,170 convicted defendants cleared in 13 “Group Exonerations” since 1995, following large police-corruption scandals, usually involving planted drugs or guns.
* 416 People exonerated of wrongful homicide convictions.
* 64 Percent of those convictions attributed to perjury or false accusations.
* 101 Exonerated convicts who had been sentenced to death.
* 203 People exonerated wrongful adult-rape convictions.
* 80 Percent of those convictions attributed to mistaken witness identification.
* 102 People exonerated of wrongful child sexual abuse convictions.
* 74 Percent of those cases attributed to “fabricated crimes that never occurred at all”.
* 289 People cleared since 1989 due to DNA testing, 222 of them since 2000, according to the Innocence Project.
* 17 Defendants cleared by DNA who had spent time on death row.
* 129 People exonerated of crimes that never happened.
* 135 People exonerated who had confessed to crimes they didn’t commit.
* 78 Exonerations in Cook County, Illinois (Chicago), since 1989, the most in the country. (The areas with the most exonerations aren’t necessary the ones with the most wrongful convictions.)
* 21 Exonerations in Dallas County, Texas, since 2007, the most in recent years. – Sources: AP, Atlantic, Huffington Post, Innocence Project, National Registry of Exonerations, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Wrongful Conviction Blog.

Minus exonerations for us innocent prisoners, a New Year only brings our families, supporters and us more torture and heartache. I wouldn’t be totally accurate if I said I’m Innocent, and a crime have been committed by my wrongful conviction. Why? If I was exonerated today, the culprits responsible of my injustice wouldn’t face a criminal charge. The prosecution should be charged with attempted murder in ALL cases an Innocent Person was sentenced to Life or the Death Penalty. After ALL of the exonerations we know about, not one law has been enacted to charge government officials who are behind wrongful convictions. I hope for our sake, this year is better than last year for all of us.

As a New Year approaches, Justice and Freedom are Demanded

 

A message from Lorenzo

On behalf of my family and myself, I would like to thank all of you (supporters), for your continued support in my nightmare. Like all innocent prisoners, I pray that this will be my last year in prison. What’s normally not included when speaking about wrongful convictions is, the mental, physical and emotional impact our ordeals have on our families, friends and community. Words can’t describe the pain and constant mental anguish.

Things look promising for me as I await a court date, hopefully within the next 45 days. When the Third Circuit Court of Appeals Vacated my false conviction I was released. Within five (5) months of my release, after a successful appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court by the prosecution, my conviction was Reinstated. I say this to say, it has been over three (3) years since I’ve been back in prison, my Actual Innocence and Prosecution Misconduct Appeal have yet to be heard…

All of the New Evidence that my Legal Team have uncovered shows my complete innocence and Police/Prosecution Misconduct. That’s not including one hundred (100) plus missing pages from my Case Discovery File, that the prosecution in my case turned over to my attorneys last year. These missing pages was intentionally withheld for over 18yrs. By law I was supposed to be furnished with my whole Case Discovery File before my trial to mount my defense. The reason for only pieces of my Case Discovery being turned over to me before my trial–My innocence were in them. The prosecution knew I was innocent from day one. Once they partially turned this information, over, they blamed me for not finding this evidence they hid in their files sooner. To this day, they still have not turned over ALL of my Case Discovery…

Not only do I have to continue to maintain mentally as I continue to pursue my freedom and total vindication. I have to watch my family from afar in turmoil and suffering. Being from New York and in prison in Pennsylvania is like being on another planet. Not saying if I was in New York I would be comfortable, I will NEVER be comfortable in prison for a crime I never committed.

Most of my visits come from New York. In my situation, it makes my day when I’m called for a visit. Why! When I’m on a visit, whether it’s my family, friends, attorneys or advocates. For that time period, mentally I escape the HELL I endure 24hrs a day being innocent in prison. But, it’s always very shortly lived. Before I enter the visiting room, I’m stripped naked and a guard searches me like an animal. This same process takes place after I exit the visit. It’s very degrading. When people say “I can only imagine what it’s like,” I quickly say you have no idea.

On a positive note, I’m a month away from graduating my Clark’s Fork Lifting Trade. After completion, I would be licensed to drive and operate a variety of Fork Lift Trucks. Even though mentally I’m tired at times due to this roller coaster ride I’ve been on for the last 20 yrs, mentally and physically I’m in a good place. Thanks for your letters, cards, photos and etc. You give me the energy boost needed at times when my day is going horrible. For those who post my articles and write about my injustice, thanks — please continue to educate society.

Within the next couple of months, if justice is served, I will be a free man again– once and for all. I will continue my fight and keep you posted. I encourage everyone to post my website and share my articles on your networks to bring attention to my nightmare. For those who can make a financial donation, it’s needed and anything will be highly appreciated. Your donations pay for stamps, envelopes, writing supplies, phone calls, and travel costs for my family to visit me — these things are a critical lifeline of support for me. You can make a donation through my Paypal site, or donate to my commissary directly through JPAY.

Once again, I thank everyone in this country and the MANY in other countries that stands with me against injustice. Until next time or I hear from you, everyone take care.

“The Pain Within”
Free The Innocent
Lorenzo ‘Cat’ Johnson

PS – Here are a few of my recent articles for the Huffington Post:

Overturned: After 25 years, John Hincapie Is Freed

Meet the Prosecutor Fighting to Overturn Wrongful Convictions

Wrongful Convictions Then and Now: The Tragic Case of George Stinney, Jr.

Ending Wrongful Convictions: No Room for Error

Overturned: After 25 Years, John Hincapie Is Freed

In his latest article for the Huffington Post, Lorenzo recounts the story of John Hincapie, who – like Lorenzo – was wrongfully incarcerated.

As Lorenzo writes in his article: “John Hincapie was released from prison on Tuesday, October 6, 2015, at around 6:40 in the evening. He said: ‘Shame on those individuals who did this to me. But, I forgive them.'”

Below is a photograph of John Hincapie’s family at a rally calling for his freedom before his recent release. This is a testament to the fact that people on the outside can make a real difference for innocent prisoners.

Hincapie rally

And that means people like you. Lorenzo appreciates any and all support that he receives – be it kind words or financial contributions.

Read Lorenzo’s entire article on John Hincapie here on this website.