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Innocent Prisoners: We Are Human Beings, Aren’t We?

by Lorenzo Johnson

First published on the Huffington Post, 3/6/17

Trapped in the bowels of a world where people are labeled the “worst of the worst,” dwell innocent prisoners. We are surrounded by criminals convicted of everything from petty crimes to multiple murders. How did we get here? Nine out of ten times, we were poor and stripped of our constitutional rights. Never once did we commit a crime—instead, a crime has been committed against us that would change our life forever.

When it came to us, the rule of “innocent until proven guilty” was reversed. If you look at the data provided by the National Registry of Exonerations, you will be shocked at how badly our criminal justice system has failed us. Then way we are treated, is as if we are less than human. At times, we wonder if the constitution even applies to us.

For those of us who are fortunate enough to eventually get exonerated, statistics show that 75% of the time, government agents were responsible for our false convictions. This is fact, not fiction. Not all government agents are corrupt, of course. However—in three out of four cases of exoneration, the actions of criminal justice officials were responsible for the injustice. If you look at the almost 2,000 (and counting) exonerations since 1989, you’ll see a lot of corruption that had been kept silent and swept under the rug.

Under the Sixth Amendment, we are all guaranteed the right to effective counsel if we can’t afford an attorney. What the Sixth Amendment hasn’t guaranteed innocent prisoners is adequate funding for our counsel. With our court-appointed laywers and public defenders being severely underfunded, we are losing before we even start.

I’m one of many innocent prisoners who has uncovered evidence of my innocence that was hidden or withheld my case prosecutor. You might think that since evidence of my innocence has been uncovered, my prosecutor would do what’s right after twenty-one years—but, no, not at all. Now, the prosecution is not fighting against my claims of innocence on their face—instead, they are relying on the issue of my claim’s “timeliness” to try and throw out my evidence of innocence.

It’s sad but, pet animals are treated better than us. We are human beings—aren’t we?

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A New Year Message from Lorenzo

Happy New Year, from my family to yours.

To all of my supporters, your families and friends,

Happy New Year!!! I hope this year will be better than last year for everyone. For everyone who has someone in my situation, I pray that all suffering comes to an end. For those who are suffering from an illness, I hope this year you’re healed or get better. Those who struggled last year and are trying to get ahead in life, this is the year you finally get ahead–I’m pulling for everyone.

As for my status — I’m extremely happy to let everyone know our prayers have not fallen on deaf ears and I’ve been Blessed. My case is OFFICIALLY heading to the courtroom 🙂 The Court has issued an Order and my legal team is on top of everything. I can’t speak on their strategies but what I can say is that they are eagerly working to bring my nightmare to an end. I trust them and they are the best in their field (here in Pennsylvania). Soon as the instructions in the Order are met, I will finally have my day in court. It has been a long time coming and I embrace all that’s coming this year.

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New article: “Are Some Prosecutors Experts At Wrongful Conviction?”

Lorenzo’s latest on the Huffington Post. You can also read it here.

Are Some Prosecutors Experts At Wrongful Conviction?

by Lorenzo Johnson

To be clear, this article in is no way directed at those government agents and prosecutors who do not abuse their power to seek or maintain false convictions. But since 1989, almost 2,000 people have been exonerated of crimes they never committed — a number that just scratches the surface of the true tally of wrongful convictions. Most of these people were sentenced to the death penalty, life sentences, or decades in prison. The average time they spent in prison was between 13½ and 15 years. And again, that’s only those who were fortunate enough to be exonerated. The rest of us — and there are many of us — have to fight daily to expose our innocence and the injustice we have suffered.

When wrongful convictions are viewed as mistakes while new records of exonerations are set yearly, we have to ask: are we turning a blind eye to injustice or does society just not want to call it for what it really is?

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Still Waiting on a Court Date

nov-2016-visit

Team Lorenzo Johnson member Thomas Dichter visiting Lorenzo at SCI Mahanoy.

Lorenzo is still waiting on a court date for an evidentiary hearing in which a judge will finally review his evidence of innocence. It’s been two years and counting since he submitted his last Post-Conviction Relief Act (PCRA) petition supplement.

Lorenzo in HuffPo: Beyond Body Cameras

Check out Lorenzo’s latest blog for the Huffington Post:

“Police Body Cameras Are OK, But How To Protect Innocent Prisoners?”

Police officers are increasingly being required to wear body cameras so that their use of force can be documented and judged. But what about the action that takes place behind the scenes — in police stations and prosecutors’ offices? It’s time to think about what measures can be put in place to hold all law enforcement accountable. As an innocent prisoner and avid writer on wrongful convictions, I say it’s time not to only present solutions, but enforce them, too.

Check out the whole piece here.

September Update from Lorenzo

Dear Supporters,

Let me start by saying I can’t thank everyone enough, in the states and out of the country for your continued support of me and my innocence. I’m in good health mentally as well as physically. My wife has made a full recovery from her surgery. She’s back on the frontline assisting me in our pursuit of Justice.

I’m patiently awaiting the exact date that my Evidentiary Hearing is taking place. It was scheduled to take place for early fall with the judge making his decision this year. After 20 years of being innocent in prison, I’m finally getting the opportunity to present my Innocence, Police/Prosecution Misconduct and Ineffective Assistance Counsel claims.

It’s been a long time and I wish this pain on no one. There has been two huge wins for the innocent here in Pennsylvania. Innocent Death Row Prisoner James Dennis and Lifer Anthony Wright. What led to Mr. Dennis New Trial and Mr. Wright Acquittal, Grave Prosecution Misconduct and DNA. They each have spent 25 years in prison, while their prosecutors knew they were innocent all along…..

It’s sad that this is a common occurrence in our criminal justice system. That’s why it’s imperative we continue we continue to stand by the Innocent and continue to raise awareness. Without the support of attorneys, family, friends and supporters our cases will continue to be swept under the rug.

I’m one of MANY innocent prisoners. When one of us gets a win, it’s a moral win for all of us. It gives us hope that if we keep fighting–we can be next. I recently told a supporter, “My body is just here (prison) trying to catch up with my soul that dwells outside of these walls. I will NEVER get comfortable or used to this place because I’m innocent.”

I would like to thank everyone for your support, even those who are supporting other innocent prisoners–it’s the same fight. For those who can make a contribution please do so, it’s needed for TeamFreeLorenzoJohnson to stay afloat.

For those who would like to email directly on my tablet I own here (prison), you must go to connectnetwork.com. If you have a problem, go to www.gtl.net/padoc for step-by-step instructions. I look forward to hearing from you.

I will close with a quote from the Newest member of TeamFreeLorenzoJohnson, Erica from Iowa: “Nothing can break the bond of love… Not even prison bars and barbed wire.”

“The Pain Within”

Free The Innocent,

Lorenzo “Cat” Johnson

Lorenzo and Tazza during a visit this summer.
In a New York state of mind.
Erica from Iowa is rocking the Free Lorenzo Johnson t-shirt!