MONTANA GOVERNOR MEETS FAMILY OF DEATH ROW CANADIAN


By Matt Gouras The Associated Press
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<:article sizset=“5″ sizcache01876765396999754=“8″><:figure><:figcaption>The Canadian Press/Bill Graveland Ronald Smith is shown on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012, at Montanta State Prison in Deer Lodge.

HELENA, Mont. – Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer on Friday told the family of a Canadian on death row that he is undecided on the inmate’s request for executive clemency, at times expressing sympathy for his plight and at other times noting the desire of the victims’ families for retribution.

The governor had a long, frank discussion with relatives of convicted murderer Ronald A. Smith. Schweitzer told them that his options include doing nothing with the clemency request, which seeks life in prison without the possibility of parole instead of the death penalty.

Schweitzer sympathized with the plight of Smith, who is scheduled to be executed in the 1982 killings of two Blackfeet Indian men. The governor said it is not fair for Smith to be executed after an accomplice was paroled, and indicated he believes that Smith may be a different man.

But the governor said he has spoken with the victims’ families, Blackfeet tribal members, who have told him they need Smith’s death for closure. The governor said he remains uncertain whether Smith’s death would improve the situation, and said he is not sure the traditional form of justice for the Blackfeet would include the death penalty.

“In their system of justice, when people did something very bad, they were banished,” Schweitzer said.

A tribal council member has said that many in the tribe believe that if the governor gives clemency to Smith that means the governor values Native American lives less.

Schweitzer told Smith’s family, from Red Deer, Alta., that he is aware of that criticism, but argued it does not have merit because he believes he has done more than past governors to include Montana’s largest minority group in his administration. Still, the governor is weighing the desire of those on the reservation.

“They cannot rest until there is retribution and Ron’s life is taken. They told us that,” Schweitzer said.

Blackfeet tribal members and family of the victims told the Montana Parole Board earlier this year that the execution has been postponed for too long and say it is time for Smith to pay for his crimes.

The board is recommending that Schweitzer dismiss the clemency request, writing in their report that “justice is best served” by continuing with the execution. The governor makes the final call.

Smith’s sister, Rita Duncan, told the governor much of the same that she and others told the parole board: Smith is a changed man who deserves to live the rest of his life behind bars. Speaking in a barely audible whisper, Duncan at times broke down in tears, as she described the impact Smith has helping the rest of his family through letters and phone calls.

Also at the meeting were Smith’s dad Nelson Smith, his daughter Carmen Blackburn and her two children.

The governor told them all options remain on the table. He does not have a timetable for making a decision, but noted the best-case scenario for Smith is life behind bars.

“His sentence, one way or another, is death: slow or long,” Schweitzer said.

Schweitzer also expressed anger at Smith, who originally sought the death penalty at trial before changing his mind, for putting the state of Montana in the position of aiding a suicide he once wanted.

The governor noted that the victims and others also wonder whether Smith’s apparent turnabout is real.

“Are we sure that monster is gone? Is this just a mask?” Schweitzer said.

The governor said many who write or call his office think argue Smith needs to be killed.

“I keep coming back to this question of what is fair. I don’t know what is fair,” the governor said in the hour-long meeting.

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Articles Arizona Prisons Struggle with Drugs


Articles.

 
 

 

Orion Wilkins was a drug addict, hooked on painkillers he’d begun taking to fight the pain of an old high-school football injury.

In 2008, he used a wrapped block of Velveeta cheese, claiming it was a bomb, to rob several Valley pharmacies of pain pills to feed his addiction. He was convicted of armed robbery and sentenced to 101/2 years in prison.

Three years later, on Dec. 7, 2011, Wilkins, 35, died of a drug overdose inside the Arizona state prison in Florence.

The presence of illegal drugs inside what are supposed to be the most secure buildings in the state has led to the deaths of at least seven inmates from overdoses, all involving heroin, over the past two years. The state Department of Corrections classified the deaths as accidental.

The Arizona Republic investigated these deaths as part of a broader look at the high rates of suicide, homicide and accidental deaths in Arizona’s state prisons. The ability of inmates to get drugs and hypodermic needles while behind bars suggests that the Department of Corrections has its own drug problem: a porous security system that allows a steady flow of drugs to be smuggled into the state prison system by inmates, visitors and prison staff.

Department inspections in the year after three inmates escaped from the Arizona State Prison-Kingman in 2010 repeatedly revealed that officers at most prisons failed to properly search and screen staff and visitors. The department says it has improved security procedures.

Late last month, a multi-agency investigation, including Corrections, initiated by the Chandler Police Department, made 44 arrests and seized 32 pounds of heroin and 5 pounds of cocaine and uncovered a drug ring connected to a state prison.

A spokesman for the Arizona attorney general said one woman arrested had planned to take 10 ounces of heroin to the state prison’s Lewis Complex in Buckeye. A family with three brothers inside state prisons operated the ring and had smuggled heroin in several times before, she said.

The Atttorney General’s Office did not release details of how the drugs were smuggled in.

Corrections officials say that drugs, cellphones and other contraband can enter prisons via visitors, incoming mail, off-site inmate work crews and staff. Corrections director Charles Ryan noted an incident two years ago at the Lewis unit in which a corrections officer was caught bringing in burritos stuffed with two cellphones and a package of marijuana. But he says that inmate visitors are the biggest source of drugs.

„We have visitors who may secrete contraband in a body cavity, and then pass it to an inmate who will secrete it in his body cavity,“ Ryan said. To combat that, he says, the department uses drug-detection and cellphone-detection dogs. „We also search visitors through a screening device where a fan blows across the visitor, the dog sits on other side of a wire-mesh fence, and the dog will alert if there is contraband,“ Ryan said.

Whether smuggled in by visitors, as Ryan says, or staff, as inmates and some corrections officers allege, drugs continue to get through. Internal incident reports for 28 days in May obtained by The Republic show that every day, correctional officers find heroin, methamphetamine, marijuana and spice, along with syringes and contraband cellphones that inmates can use to communicate with drug suppliers on the outside. During cell searches, officers frequently catch inmates hurriedly flushing objects down their toilets.

Examples from the incident reports:

On May 6, an officer at the state prison’s Manzanita Unit in Tucson spotted a balloon, apparently filled with drugs, that fell out of the pants of an inmate who was being visited by his brother and sister. On the same day an inmate in solitary at the Eyman Complex in Florence was taken to Anthem Hospital with an apparent drug overdose.

On May 9, an assistant deputy warden at the state prison’s Cheyenne Unit in Yuma was caught bringing a cellphone into the prison in her lunch bag. Corrections officials have not responded to queries about this incident, which was not publicly disclosed.

On May 23, a Tucson city employee spotted someone tossing a package over a fence to an inmate work crew. Inside the package were four bubble-wrapped cellphones.

On May 26, in separate incidents at four prisons, corrections officers found two packets of drugs, two syringes, a cellphone and, at the Florence prison’s central unit, four gallons of alcohol in an inmate’s cell.

Three-quarters of arriving inmates have significant substance-abuse histories, according to Corrections records, yet only one in 13 received substance-abuse treatment last fiscal year. A spokesman for the department said inmates usually don’t receive treatment until they approach the end of their sentence.

The heroin-overdose death of Anthony Braun at the Lewis Complex on Nov. 14 has raised other questions about the problems of drugs in state prisons.

An anonymous May 1 e-mail to prisoner advocate Peg Plews alleged that two correctional officers assigned to Braun’s housing unit failed to do their security checks for at least four hours before inmates notified them Braun was having problems. The e-mail alleged one officer was asleep in the control room, and questioned whether Braun might have been saved if officers had done their jobs properly.

Corrections spokesman Bill Lamoreaux confirmed that one officer was dismissed, another resigned and a sergeant was demoted as a result of the incident, though he could not confirm whether it was for failing to conduct security checks. He said the case was referred to the Maricopa County attorney for possible charges against other inmates.

The mothers of two dead inmates blame the availability of drugs behind bars for the deaths of their sons.

Roberta Wilkins, the mother of Orion Wilkins, said her son became addicted to pain pills he started taking for back injuries from playing football. In an interview, she wept over his death but didn’t excuse his crime. „It doesn’t matter; he threatened and terrified people. We discussed his crimes and how stupid and idiotic they were.“

But she said he had seemed to be drug free and was gaining weight for several months before his death.

Cynthia Krakoff’s son, Carlo Krakoff, died of a heroin overdose in prison in Tucson on July 31, 2011. A former child actor who played the young Spock in „Star Trek III: The Search for Spock,“ he became addicted to the pain medication Oxycontin after his jaw was damaged in a tonsillectomy, says his mother. As the addiction progressed, it changed him, she said.

„He was always so levelheaded and loving,“ Cynthia said, especially toward his son, now four. „Then at a detox facility in Phoenix, they treated him with Methadone. He met some low-life people there, and all of sudden he was stoned all the time.“

Cynthia said she was shocked when Carlo was arrested in 2009 on suspicion of robbing several Phoenix-area pharmacies with a gun. But she was more shocked when he died 15 months into his 13-year sentence.

„Nobody ever told me he could die in prison of illegal drugs,“ she said. „If they can’t clean up the prisons, they need to find a different way to treat the drug addicts.“

Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/news/20120601arizona-prison-deaths-drugs.html#ixzz1xkIJGaOD

VOICES from SOLITARY


 

Voices from Solitary: Behind Enemy Lines

by Voices from Solitary

http://solitarywatch.com/2012/06/09/voices-from-solitary-behind-enemy-lines/

The artist Ojore Lutalo was released from Trenton State Penitentiary in August 2009 by way of a court order. He maxed out after 28 year. 22 of which were spent in the Management Control Unit (solitary confinement). Lutalo was imprisoned after an armed robbery conviction, but he was held in the MCU because his political beliefs–his association with the with the Anarchist Black Cross Federation and Black Liberation Army–were deemed a threat to the security of the prison. In order to keep his sanity during his internment, Lutalo says he abided by a strict regiment of physical exercise, mediation and study. He also began creating political art. Ojore Lutalo provided the following description of his artwork:

„Over the years Ojore was asked repeatedly to describe the conditions that he faced on a daily basis. These requests ranged from simple curiosity as to the physical particulars of his cell and surroundings to the profound emotional pressures and struggles associated with long-term solitary confinement. Ojore began creating his political propaganda both as a way to maintain his sanity and to more adequately convey to his friends the physical and emotional reality he experienced within solitary confinement. For the last 22 years of his confinement Ojore created a wide range of art pieces offering his unique perspective.

„Since his release is 2008, Ojore dedicates himself to assisting the American Friends Service Committee in its attempt to expose the true nature and extent of long-term isolation, its effect both on the prisoner individually as well as society at large. This outreach often involves speaking engagements in which he uses artwork to re-enforce his text, finding visuals often communicate more effectively than a purely oral presentation. Often after speaking, Ojore receives requests from individuals to purchase his artwork. The limited proceeds from the sale of these pieces allow Ojore to continue to volunteer his time to the American Friends Service Committee.“

What follows is a small sample of Ojore Lutalo’s work. His collages are for sale on the website www.ojorebehindenemylines.com, and he is available for art showings: e-mail kerness.b@verizon.net.    –Jean Casella and James Ridgeway

„Stand Your Ground“, „Make My Day“ etc…..


http://www.propublica.org/article/the-23-states-that-have-sweeping-self-defense-laws-just-like-floridas

Here some lines:

by Cora Currier
ProPublica, March 22, 2012, 1:05 p.m.

March 26: This post has been updated to reflect the latest in the ongoing investigation of the shooting, and corrected [1].

„Stand Your Ground,“ „Shoot First,“ „Make My Day“ — state laws asserting an expansive right to self-defense — have come into focus after last month’s killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin [2].

In 2005, Florida became the first state to explicitly expand a person’s right to use deadly force for self-defense. Deadly force is justified if a person is gravely threatened, in the home or „any other place where he or she has a right to be [3].“

Most states have long allowed the use of reasonable force, sometimes including deadly force, to protect oneself inside one’s home — the so-called Castle Doctrine [4]. Outside the home, people generally still have a „duty to retreat“ from an attacker, if possible, to avoid confrontation. In other words, if you can get away and you shoot anyway, you can be prosecuted. In Florida, there is no duty to retreat. You can „stand your ground“ outside your home, too.“ …..please, read whole article there!

The Trial of Bradley Manning: Don´t Forget! We are with You!   


   :  Information Clearing House.

The Trial of Bradley Manning — Rule of Law or Rule of Intimidation, Retaliation & Retribution

By Ann Wright

December 17, 2011 „Information Clearing House“ – – Yesterday, December 16, 2011, 40 supporters of Bradley Manning saw him in person in the military courtroom at Fort Meade, Maryland and another 60 saw him on a video feed from the court, the first time Manning has been seen by the public in 19 months. Over 100 other supporters, including 50 from Occupy Wall Street who had bused down from New York City, were at the front gates of Fort Meade in solidarity with Manning.

Hundreds of supporters will gather today, Saturday, December 17, for a large rally and march.

For his first court appearance, Bradley was in what looked to be a new military uniform and typically military, he had a fresh haircut.  He was not in shackles in the courtroom, but it appeared in a photo that he was shackled in the van that brought him to the court. Manning talked freely with his civilian defense counsel and his two military legal counsels.

He did not turn around and look at the people in the court, but as he was brought in and taken out during the various recesses of the court, he no doubt noticed supporters in Bradley Manning t-shirts.

Bradley Manning has been imprisoned for 19 months, since May, 2010, without a trial.  Yesterday, December 16, 2011, an Article 32 hearing began at Fort Meade, Maryland, in which an investigating officer will determine whether there is sufficient evidence of the crimes with which the military has charged him for the case to be referred to a General court-martial.

Please, read more there!

Man imprisoned for 20 years, then freed by DNA evidence, sues police, prosecutors


Man imprisoned for 20 years, then freed by DNA evidence, sues police, prosecutors.

Lawsuit claims city investigators withheld exculpatory evidence
November 27, 2011|By Tricia Bishop, The Baltimore Sun

James L. Owens Jr., who spent 20 years behind bars on burglary and murder charges only to be freed in 2008 by a DNA discovery, has filed a $15 million lawsuit claiming Baltimore police and prosecutors intentionally suppressed exculpatory information in his case.

Owens, 46, says investigators pressured a key witness, who was later convicted as an accomplice in the case, into changing stories mid-trial in 1988 and that a jailhouse informant, who claimed Owens confessed, testified in exchange for special favors. The defense team wasn’t told of either circumstance, according to the civil suit, which was moved into federal court recently from the city, where it was originally filed.

It’s a disturbing case in which the only certainty is that a 24-year-old woman — a phone company employee and community college student — was brutally murdered a quarter century ago, stabbed, strangled and sexually assaulted in her Southeast Baltimore row house.

Both men convicted in Colleen Williar’s death, including Owens, won the right to new trials and eventually freedom after a DNA test showed that blood and semen from the scene belonged to someone else. Each man claims he’s innocent, but the victim’s family has refused to accept it.

„They’re both as guilty as can be,“ Williar’s mother said when Owens was released.

She could not be reached for this story, nor could the prosecutor who originally tried the case. Attorneys for the Police Department and the Baltimore state’s attorney’s office did not respond to messages, and spokespeople for the agencies declined to comment.

The lawsuit combined with older court filings and newspaper reports tell a confusing tale.

Williar’s brother, who would later commit suicide, discovered her nude body in an upstairs bedroom of her O’Donnell Heights home on Aug. 2, 1987. And only one man, James A. Thompson Jr., appeared to know anything about it.

He approached police the next day, claiming he’d found the murder weapon, a bloody knife, near the scene and asking for a $1,000 reward. When police pressed him, he said a friend, Owens, told him where to find the knife, which he then cleaned and kept.

Police arrested Owens based on Thompson’s statement and took him into custody. While in jail, an informant also came forward, claiming that Owens confessed to the attack, the lawsuit says, and promising to testify in exchange for „help in getting … released, better conditions of confinement, and other rewards.“

The informant and Thompson were the state’s best trial witnesses. But on the morning he was scheduled to testify, Thompson changed his story again, claiming that the knife was his, but that Owens took it from him and returned it bloody.

That’s the version of events he first told the jury.

„Despite the fact that Mr. Thompson had shown himself to be untrustworthy and a habitual liar, [police and prosecutors] decided that his third story was, as they would describe it later, ’sellable‘ to a jury,“ Owens‘ lawsuit claims.

The prosecutor grew suspicious of Thompson, however, and asked investigators to retrieve blood and hair samples, according to Owens‘ lawsuit. A forensic expert suggested at the time that Thompson’s hair looked like it matched strands found at the murder scene.

Police told Thompson of the discovery, and over several hours of interrogation, demanded an explanation.

Thompson told several stories, then, ending with this: He said he stood at the foot of the bed masturbating while Owens attacked Williar. He was called back to the witness stand and confessed, shocking onlookers and the jury.

Owens was convicted of burglary and murder, though he was acquitted of the rape. Thompson later recanted before Owens‘ sentencing, but it was too late. Owens was ordered to life in prison. Thompson was convicted of rape, murder and burglary in a separate trial and also sentenced to life.

Both men spent years in prison, until the Innocence Project, which works to overturn unjust convictions, got involved in the case. The group fought for DNA analysis of semen found at the scene and blood found on Thompson’s pants. None of it matched the victim or the defendants.

Owens won a new trial based on the results, and prosecutors chose to drop the charges against him in 2008, rather than retry the case. By then, five of the original witnesses were dead, and Thompson was no longer willing to testify.

Last year, Thompson was also granted a new trial, but he took a plea deal — entering an „Alford plea“ to second-degree murder — rather than take his chances in another jury trial. He was sentenced to time served. Such a plea acknowledges that there is sufficient evidence to convict him but doesn’t admit guilt.

One of Owens‘ attorneys in the civil case, James Gentry Jr., who has worked as both a police officer and a prosecutor, says police and prosecutors likely „jumped to conclusions“ without thorough investigation.

„We believe that it was pretty outrageous conduct,“ Gentry said, adding that his team are „operating under the assumption“ that both Thompson and Owens are innocent.

„It’s a crazy case“ he said.

tricia.bishop@baltsun.com All Rights there

Doctors Mistreat California Inmates, Still Collect Large Salaries | AlterNet read more there


Doctors Mistreat California Inmates, Still Collect Large Salaries | AlterNet.

comments_image 1 COMMENT

Doctors Mistreat California Inmates, Still Collect Large Salaries

Subheading: 
California paid millions to doctors suspended from treating prisoners due to malpractices
Article Body: 

In 2005, a federal court deemed California’s prison healthcare system so jacked up that it amounted to cruel and unusual punishment. Since then, the feds have operated the state’s prison healthcare system, but it still pays salaries to those doctors who made it cruel and unusually punishing. In some cases, doctors are paid hundreds of thousands of dollars, even though they are suspended from treating inmates due to medical missteps and malpractice. Other doctors collect large salaries though demoted to doing things like carrying mail.

Dr. Allan Yin, whose negligence led to the deaths of two inmates and who almost blinded a third, gets paid $235,000 for being a mail courier. Dr. Radu Mischiu, no longer a psychiatrist due to her negligence, gets paid $268,524 for sorting mail.

As reported by the L.A. Times, over 30 medical professionals are collecting six-figure salaries  after being deemed too…

UPDATE: Convicted murderer’s mom comments on re-trial | KTVQ.com | Q2 | Billings, Montana


UPDATE: Convicted murderer’s mom comments on re-trial | KTVQ.com | Q2 | Billings, Montana.

UPDATE: Convicted murderer’s mom comments on re-trial

Posted: Nov 23, 2011 2:50 PM by Brittany Wooley- KTVQ News
Updated: Nov 23, 2011 3:43 PM

 
 
WATCH VIDEO  there FOR SOME OF CLINCHER’S RESPONSE

BILLINGS- Q2’s Brittany Wooley sat down with Barry Beach’s mother, Bobbi Clincher, Wednesday morning before she set out for Deer Lodge to visit her son.

Clincher says it has been a long journey to get to this point but that she and Beach both have a strong faith in God and believe the journey has served a purpose.

During Beach’s 28 years in prison, legislation has been passed through the Montana Legislature because of his case, and Clincher says Beach has had many experiences, both good and bad, in prison that he needed to have.

But, she says, Beach is almost 50-years-old, and it is time for him to be given the rest of his life back and for appropriate justice to be served.

„This is not just about Barry. It is about justice for Kim also, Kim Nees, and I’m sure Kim is happy about this decision too because whatever the outcome will be, eventually, at least she will have this justice, knowing that someone innocent of the crime is not going to be behind bars, hopefully,“ Clincher says.

She says she holds no animosity towards anyone for waiting so long to come forward as witnesses or for not speaking out at all.

 


 

BILLINGS- After 28 years in prison for a murder of a Poplar teen, a man who has maintained his innocence is getting the chance to make his case before a new jury.

 

District judge Wayne Phillips of Lewistown has ordered a re-trial in the conviction of Barry Beach for the 1979 bludgeoning death of 17-year-old Kimberly Nees.

New witnesses came forward during an August evidentiary hearing testifying that over the years several girls have admitted to the murder.

 

According to information from a 1985 Montana State Supreme Court opinion, Beach’s conviction was based almost entirely upon his 1983 confession to police in Louisiana, a conviction Beach maintains was coerced by police.

 

The five year statute of limitations has long expired. However, the Montana State Supreme Court allowed for an evidentiary hearing, and Phillips decided the new evidence warrants a re-trial.

Beach is currently serving a 100-year sentence without the possibility of parole.

Phillips ordered the trial in Roosevelt County, but the state can appeal the decision.