Thursday, April 27, 2017

Norman Brown. We LOVE him !

Norman Brown
We think the world of Norman Brown and congratulate him on this write up in today's Washington Post. His thoughtfulness, sincerity and ability to articulate difficult, sometimes deep, painful thoughts and emotions seem to make his potential for good almost limitless. That's why we so hope that he gets every break that he can get in this life, that he will get the attention that he deserves and that he will always be provided with the platform(s) needed to share his compelling story, and to educate and inform. See Post article here. It is a great read, about a man with so much potential.

Montana: Headlines v. Intelligent Understanding

Gov. Bullock
The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, WA) cannot help itself. "Montana Governor Grants Clemency to Man Convicted of Rape" is such a great headline. It catches the eye. It sells papers. It is the kind of headline that Governors loathe. Consequently, it is the kind of headline that keeps people in jails and prisons who belong elsewhere, and allows the cloud of post-conviction to hang over the heads of persons who have "served their time" (if they ever even had any) and prolongs and intensifies their efforts to reincorporate into society as law-abiding, productive citizens.

The Governor has pardoned a rapist ! OMG !

As it turns out, the conviction was over two decades ago, when Russell Foster was 19-years old and his "victim" was 15. Both Foster and his "victim" said the crime was actually consensual. What is more, after Foster was released from prison, they married (now for 17 years) and now have four children together. That's why the Montana Board of Pardons and Parole was smart enough to recommend clemency. How utterly stupid it would have been for Governor Steve Bullock to act otherwise!

So, what's with the headline? Why not these kinds of headlines:

Governor Follows Board Recommendation

Mercy Well Deserved

Clemency Sees What Law Cannot

Board, Governor Pursue Justice

Board, Governor Temper Justice with Mercy / Common Sense

See story here.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Time Out for Some Blues


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Most of Obama's Commutees Still in Prison

Click on Image (Above) to Enlarge

Monday, April 17, 2017

Obama's OPA. Still the House of "No"

We now learn that President Obama left behind 11,371 applications for pardons and commutations of sentence. Currently, President Trump has not appointed a U.S. Pardon Attorney, so Obama's OPA is essentially still in place. The result? 600 new petitions for commutation of sentence and 752 commutation applications tanked ("closed") by OPA. Did Obama reinvigorate clemency?


Sunday, April 16, 2017

California: Notable Pardons, for Deportees

The Times of San Diego notes Governor Brown has granted pardons to three veterans who were deported:

Erasmo Apodaca, an honorably discharged U.S. Marine, was convicted of burglary (for breaking into his ex-girlfriend’s house). After serving one year of his sentence, and being released early for good behavior, he was deported.

Marco Antonio Chavez Medina served honorably for four years in the U.S. Marine Corps, but was convicted of animal cruelty in 1998. He served 15 months of his prison sentence and was released early for good behavior. In 2002, an immigration judge categorized his offense as an “aggravated felony” and he was deported to Mexico.

Hector Barajas  served with the 82nd Airborne during Operation Desert Storm and was honorably discharged. But, as a civilian, he struggled with substance abuse and "a conviction for being in a car when a firearm was discharged." That got him two years in prison and deportation to Mexico.

The Times quotes someone as saying, "It’s the first time a governor has recognized and taken action to help deported veterans." If so, it would be a sad thing indeed. Historically, presidents have granted clemency with some frequency to persons to prevent / counteract deportation. And there is certainly no reason to expect that veterans have been / should be systematically excluded from those exercises. See full story here.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

California: 72 Pardons, 7 Commutations

The  L.A. Times reports Governor Brown has continued "his tradition of considering the requests of felons for a second chance both at Christmas and Easter" by granting 72 pardons and 7 commutations of sentence. The Times notes "the bulk" of the grants were for "nonviolent drug crimes." One commutation of sentence will result in immediate release. The other six involve a "chance" to be released from prison by the State Board of Parole Hearings. See story here.

Criminal Justice Debt Reform Builder


Overview: Criminal justice debt – the system of fees and fines in the criminal justice system – has serious consequences. The Criminal Justice Debt Reform Builder brings transparency to this area of significant legal complexity: it gives easier access to state laws that govern criminal justice debt and suggests policy solutions through the Criminal Justice Policy Program’s Confronting Criminal Justice Debt: A Guide for Policy Reform. The Reform Builder and Policy Guide are organized into the following reform areas:

1. Ability to Pay
2. Conflicts of Interest
3. Poverty Penalties and Poverty Traps
4. Transparency

National Comparison : Hover over a state on the map to see key criminal justice debt metrics. Currently the map is color-coded by the number of fees and surcharges. Click to navigate to a state summary page with additional statistics, queries into the full law database, and details about our methodology.

State Analysis: Knowing where to begin can be overwhelming: each state has dozens – if not hundreds – of relevant laws governing criminal justice debt. The cards below provide state-specific facts about the operation of criminal justice debt and a number of suggested queries into the Law Explorer so that you may begin to research.

Law Explorer: Search across all of the laws in the states, or through topic-specific tabs.

Reform Builder: A shareable space for users to collect, analyze, and compare laws, and to consider policy alternatives.

The Criminal Justice Debt Reform Builder is a project of the National Criminal Justice Debt Initiative of the Criminal Justice Policy Program at Harvard Law School in collaboration with the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University and with user experience design by metaLAB (at) Harvard. The Criminal Justice Policy Program (CJPP) at Harvard Law School conducts research and advocacy to support criminal justice reform. It generates legal and policy analysis designed to serve advocates and policymakers throughout the country, convenes diverse stakeholders to diagnose problems and chart concrete reforms, and collaborates with government agencies to pilot and implement policy initiatives. CJPP’s National Criminal Justice Debt Initiative aims to help bring about major reforms in the way that jurisdictions around the country impose and collect fees and fines in the criminal justice system. For more information, please visit cjpp.law.harvard.edu. Thanks to Ted Grajeda from the Noun Project for the icons.

Friday, April 14, 2017

New Jersey: Commutation of Sentence

Eyewitness News ABC7 notes Governor Christie has granted a commutation of sentence to "a decorated Marine veteran facing a mandatory three years behind bars on a gun charge." Marine Sergeant Hisashi Pompey's conviction stands, but the penalty is gone.
To combat gang violence, New Jersey lawmakers several years ago tacked on mandatory sentences for gun-related offenses. And even though Pompey's firearm was legal, it wasn't registered in New Jersey. The law has been updated to exclude service members, but it didn't apply retroactively to Pompey's case ... Six years ago during a visit to New Jersey, Pompey was at a Fort Lee nightclub when his friend got involved in a fight and grabbed Pompey's gun out of his holster and carried it into a confrontation with police. No shots were fired, and the friend was arrested. But so was Pompey. While his gun was legally registered in Virginia, he had no New Jersey permit and was charged with unlawful possession of a handgun ... Pompey had lost an appeal and was set to surrender to authorities next week, meaning his only hope was with Governor Christie, whom Pompey had petitioned for a pardon. 
Because his weapons charge fell under the state's Graves Act, the judge had no discretion in the sentencing. See full story here.

Virginia: Post Calls for Clemency

With reference to Blackstone, Sodom, Abraham, and Islam, the Washington Post is calling for Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe to grant clemency to Ivan Teleguz.

Ivan Teleguz was convicted of capital murder for hire, in 2006, when he "allegedly paid two men to kill Stephanie Yvonne Sipe, his ex-girlfriend and the mother of his child."

His attorney says, however, that there were "problems" with his four day trial. Two "critical witnesses" are said to have "recanted their testimony in sworn, written statements." They now say that they gave false testimony "in exchange for leniency in their own cases." The only remaining evidence against Teleguz is the testimony of the man who did the killing. The Post says his testimony is "questionable at best," because he gave it only after he "was threatened with the death penalty." Says the Post:
 As a last resort, Teleguz’s attorneys filed a petition for clemency with  (D) requesting the execution be halted. Clearly, in Teleguz’s case, there are reasonable doubts surrounding his conviction and his sentence that were unknown to the jury at the time. Teleguz is scheduled to die on April 25 for a crime it is entirely plausible he did not commit. The law requires that when so much reasonable doubt exists, the state lacks the power to deprive a person of his most cherished natural right: life. McAuliffe should grant Teleguz’s petition for clemency. 
See story here.

Illinois: 5 Pardons, 140 Denials

The Associated Press reports Gov. Bruce Rauner has "granted four new petitions for clemency, acted again on a previous case and denied 140 others." Among the recipients was a man convicted in 1992 of theft, who was previously pardoned, but "it was unclear whether the first granted petition would've allowed [him] gun ownership rights." Other charges addressed were related to drugs and aggravated battery. It is reported that Rauner has reviewed "16 sets of petitions since taking office in 2015. " See story here.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Illinois: Clemency, or Deportation

The Chicago Tribune reports Miguel Perez Jr., a "decorated Army veteran with a green card" has been "ordered back to his native Mexico," but will ask the Illinois Prisoner Review Board to ask Governor Rauner "to pardon his felony drug conviction."

Currently in a Wisconsin detention center, Perez says he has "faith" in Rauner because he is the Governor.  But, the Tribune reports, of 2,333 petitions, Rauner has granted a mere 79 pardons and a single commutation of sentence. In contrast, the previous Governor, Pat Quinn, "approved roughly 36 percent of petitions." Says the Tribune:
According to the governor's office, Rauner considers how long it has been since petitioners completed their sentences, why they need clemency and whether it's affecting their ability to get professional businesses licenses or a job. He also takes into account the applicant's military and community service records, the nature of the crime and their acceptance of responsibility. 
It is not altogether clear that any Illinois governor has ever considered much of anything else, as a mater of general practice. Perez is said to have "accepted" responsibility for his crime, but his application emphasizes a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder and possible traumatic brain injury. He is also the father of two U.S. citizen children. See story here.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Alabama: See Texas

Jonathan Haggerty, Koch Fellow and Technology Policy Research Associate at the R Street Institute, says Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley's initiative to consolidate the state’s 14 prisons into 4 mega-prisons will cost taxpayers "about $800 million." Haggerty guesses this is not the most "cost effective way" to handle "Alabama’s disastrous criminal justice system."

Instead Alabama "should consider an alternative model for reform pioneered by Texas." There, legislators reconsidered "placing first-time, nonviolent drug offenders in prison — making them more likely to adapt to the hardened prison culture and reoffend once out on release." Instead, such persons were allowed users to "forego prison if they agreed to comprehensive supervision, drug testing, and treatment."

Texas also focused on replacing "severe sentencing" for "technical violations" of probation or parole with graduated sanctions and "rehabilitation programs for drug users and the mentally ill." The results? Texas has "saved taxpayers over $3 billion, and crime rates have plummeted to a 49-year low." Recidivism "is dropping and the state has been able to close three prisons." Haggerty writes:
The financial and human consequences of a prison and jail system teeming with bodies prompted Texas to make comprehensive changes, and it caught on like wildfire throughout the country. “Utah, Alabama and Nebraska have all passed comprehensive sentencing and corrections reforms; West Virginia took steps to reduce incarceration of juveniles in their state for misdemeanor or status offenses, and Alaska began major work on a second wave of reforms," according to Texas Rep. Jerry Madden. 
See full story here.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

DOJ Footdragging Appeal of OPA Footdragging


Iowa: Branstad Asleep at the Wheel

Erin Murphy of the Sioux City Journal has written a great piece on Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, who has, on average, granted "fewer pardons than any Iowa governor dating to the late-1940s." Murphy notes the governor has received nearly 400 requests for pardons since 2011, but approved only 26:
Branstad is closer to the middle of that pack for granting commutations, or reduced sentences, since 2011. However, remove the roughly three dozen commutations that were the direct result of a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that negated lifetime sentences for juveniles, and Branstad once again drops to the fewest granted since 1949. 
Branstad says that he has always "tried to be very thoughtful and very judicious in making these decisions" - as if anyone, anywhere is asking him to be otherwise. More notably, he believes the power to pardon should be used sparingly because it is "an extraordinary power" (language found nowhere in the Iowa State Constitution).
Party Comm Pardons Total Months
Terry Branstad (2011-2017) R 39 26 65 75
Chet Culver (2007-2011) D 0 95 95 48
Tom Vilsack (1999-2007) D 7 97 104 96
Terry Branstad (1983-1999) R 2 112 114 192
Robert Ray (1969-1983) R 27 163 190 168
Harold Hughes (1963-1969) D 39 44 83 72
Norman A. Erbe (1961-1963) R 11 11 22 24
Herschel C. Loveless (1957-1961) D 46 19 65 48
Leo Hoegh (1955-1957) R 30 12 42 24
Leo Elthon (1954-1955) R 17 1 18 2
William S. Beardsley (1949-1954) R 26 26 52 70

More to the point, Robert Rigg, a Drake University law school professor, says,“Most governors keep in mind they’re running for re-election almost always" and the worst thing they can do is be "called soft on crime.” So, more tellingly, Branstad says, "The good news is we’ve not had the tragedies that have occurred in some other states where governors haven’t been as careful or judicious and people that they pardoned have then committed other serious crimes.”

However, the Editor of this blog says:
“When I see a pardon number that low, I just don’t get why that is not in the hundreds. Because, again, the political risks there are just about zero ...If you look into those high-profile things, they’re almost always about commutations (not pardons). The idea that there is some risk to restoring rights is just lunacy.” 
See full story here.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Louisiana: The Woe of Prosecutors

Great reporting on clemency in Louisiana by Julia O'Donoghue at Nola.com (link). She reports that Governor John Bel Edwards "has reduced more prison sentences at this point in his term than his three immediate predecessors." But this is said to put "more pressure on district attorneys" in the State because "they must devote more resources and investigators to researching old cases, some closed by former district attorneys 30 to 40 years ago, in order to provide an informed opinion at clemency and parole hearings. " Oh my!

Edwards actually only commuted 22 sentences his first year in office, but that was "far more" than were granted in the first year of the administrations of Mike Foster (who commuted 53 sentences in eight years), Kathleen Blanco (who commuted 129 sentences in four years) and Bobby Jindal (who only commuted 3 sentences in  eight years).

Prosecutors say they "want more time to be able to find surviving victims and gather information about old cases" and they are tired of having to "scramble to get everything together" for clemency hearings. They complain that "pulling information for the cases can be complicated." Victims don't always live in the same places and, in one case, the "original prosecutor and the arresting police officer were both dead."

The piece also says "word has gotten out" among inmates and "there has been an uptick in applications for clemency." See full story here.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Obama Administration: Most Embarrassing Clemency Episodes

Slow to Care

After a campaign packed with rhetoric re "Hope and Change," President Obama waited longer than any president in American history - save George W. Bush - to grant the first pardon of his administration (link). Some floated the idea that he was simply "too busy" - a fairly lame defense for a presidential candidate who sarcastically rebuked John McCain for failing to understand that one can do more than one important thing at a time (link) and in consideration of the behavior of previous presidents (see post here).

The Merciless First Term

Obama's foot-dragging was not limited to the granting of the first pardon. When the first term ended, he had granted a mere 22 pardons and a single commutation of sentence. Bush, Reagan and Nixon were criminal coddling softies in comparison. Indeed, to find a full term that merciless, one has to go all the way back to George Washington's first term! Of course, in Washington's day, there was no gargantuan criminal code, no booming federal prison population and there weren't thousands of clemency applications coming in. Who knew Obama would care so little? See post here.

Lies, Damned Lies and Clumsy Statistics

In July of 2015, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest suggested President Obama's record on commutations of sentence was "bold." To make his point, Mr. Earnest compared the President's total number of commutations (89) to that of the four previous presidents. Mr. Earnest failed to point out the previous four presidents granted 88 commutations of sentence. President Obama had "beaten" them by a grand total of ONE. In addition, none of the previous four presidents received nearly as many applications for commutations of sentence as Obama. By that point, Obama had received a thousand plus more applications than all of them combined (link).

The hacks at DOJ were all about announcing new "records" and "making history," but just about always in the clumsy manner of Mr. Earnest (link). At one point, the OPA made graphic display of data a mini-comedy routine (link). When all was said and done, clemency, for Obama, primarily meant commutations of sentence, for one class of offenders (drug offenders), late in his presidency. Meanwhile, his record on pardons was abysmal (link). While Obama set an all-time record for commutations of sentence, the number he granted was small fraction of the number of applications received (link) and, of course, an even smaller fraction of prisoners serving sentences under laws that he supposedly considered unjust (link).

AG Lynch Talks Cra Cra

As Obama's term came to an end, and it was apparent that many thousands would left in prison via drug sentencing laws that he supposedly opposed, the obvious question became: "Why not grant an amnesty?" U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch told Rachel Maddow - without reference to any authority - that the granting of a pardon is “an individual decision that’s made on a case-by-case basis.” Consequently, “There’s no legal framework or regulatory framework that allows for a pardon of a group en masse” (link). It was perhaps the most preposterously ridiculous comment ever made by an Attorney General of the United States re clemency. Later, at the POLITICO gathering, Lynch tied the erroneous commentary to the possibility of a "blanket clemency for drug offenders," saying, "These are very individual decisions ... When you’re talking about clemency, the same as with pardons, it’s a very individualized decision. I think it would be hard to craft a system for a blanket commutation of a class of people" (link). Hard? Sure. If you are clueless. Amnesties are a great American tradition, and have been granted by many presidents. See post here.

Epic Transparency Fail

After an amazing show of cheer-leading for "transparency" via FOIA (link), President Obama's DOJ simply stopped processing FOIA requests altogether. The pathway was something to behold. First, requests were not answered. Then, receipt of requests was not acknowledged. At one point the U.S. Pardon Attorney actually recommended just waiting until Obama left office to make FOIA requests. Everyone was just too busy for the law thing (link). But, actually, after Obama left, OPA began denying requested information it had shared via FOIA requests for years. First, it was claimed that a new "electronic filing system" made it more difficult to retrieve information. Yes, you read that right, They updated and information retrieval was reduced ! Then, it was claimed that the information may or may not exist. Then, it was claimed that it was no longer necessary to share the information (link). Predictably, the DOJ is delaying appeal of all of this incompetence and resistance to the law (link).

Fast, Dirty, Sloppy, Last-Minute History Making

When Bill Clinton granted a batch of last-minute pardons, media wondered (and reasonably enough) if applications were fairly considered, and properly vetted. Why were the one who were granted clemency chosen, among thousands? After generally neglecting clemency for eight years, why was Clinton suddenly a fan? None of these critical inquiries were on the radar as President Obama engaged in the greatest fourth-year clemency surge in American history. The Times and Post did report on DOJ officials supposedly plowing through huge piles of applications as Obama's presidency came to an end. Yes, they went through those piles at home, over the Holidays, while missing meals and sleep. Far from being critical of the fact that such important decisions were being made in such an unprofessional way, the media romanticized it, as if the work of heroes was being done. They may have been working hard, but they certainly were not working smart. See post here.

The Final Spin (of the Flat Tire)

Just before he left office, Obama published a 56-page article in the Harvard Law Review on the president's role in advancing criminal justice reform. At page 25, Obama first mentioned the idea of "reinvigorating clemency," but the piece says nothing - as in zero - about reforming clemency. Obama noted it could not be "a substitute for the lasting change that can be achieved by passage of legislation" - a position which, quite literally, no one, anywhere in the universe takes. He then awkwardly wrote, "the Framers gave the President this authority to remedy individual cases of injustice" - as if he were as ignorant of amnesty as AG Lynch.

Obama took credit for "an unprecedented effort to identify the types of inmates who deserve particular consideration for clemency" but did not much emphasize much that this "effort" took place outside of DOJ - where clemency applications have traditionally gone to die. That should, in and of itself, say something, actually a great deal, about the need for reform in DOJ, or, even better, moving the clemency process outside of DOJ altogether. Obama concluded that the effort of his "team" had "touched" him "personally," that he has "worked to reinvigorate the clemency power" and that he "set a precedent that will make it easier for future Presidents, governors, and other public officials to use it for good." Not very likely. See post here.

Shameful.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Holmes Calls for D.C. Clemency via Mayor

Mar 28, 2017 Press Release WASHINGTON, D.C.— Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today introduced a bill that would give the District of Columbia exclusive authority, like states and U.S. territories, to grant clemency for criminal convictions under its laws. The District of Columbia Home Rule Clemency Act is part of Norton’s “Free and Equal D.C.” series. While D.C. law appears to give the mayor authority to grant clemency (D.C. Code 1–301.76), the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has opined that the mayor’s clemency authority, if any, is very narrow, and that the President of the United States has authority to grant clemency in all D.C. criminal cases and exclusive authority for D.C. felonies. Under current practice, clemency petitions for D.C. convictions, like federal convictions, are submitted to DOJ for the President’s consideration. In Norton’s bill, clemency includes pardons, reprieves, or commutations of sentence.

In her introductory statement, Norton said “The District, like states and territories, should have full control of its local criminal justice system, the most basic responsibility of local government. Since the D.C. Council has the authority to enact local laws, District officials are in the best position to grant clemency for local law convictions … This bill is an important step in establishing further autonomy for the District in its own local affairs.” Norton’s full introductory statement is below.

Statement of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton on the Introduction of the District of Columbia Home Rule Clemency Act - March 28, 2017 

Today, I introduce the District of Columbia Home Rule Clemency Act, a bill that would give the District of Columbia exclusive authority, like the states and territories, to grant clemency to offenders prosecuted under its local laws.

While District law appears to give the mayor authority to grant clemency (D.C. Code 1–301.76), it is currently the opinion of the Department of Justice (DOJ) that the president, and not the mayor, has the authority to issue clemency for most local offenses prosecuted under D.C. law, particularly felonies prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney in the D.C. Superior Court. Under current practice, clemency petitions for D.C. convictions, like federal convictions, are submitted to the DOJ for the president’s consideration.

Whether or not the DOJ’s view is correct, my bill would remove all doubt that the District, and not the president, has the authority to issue executive clemency for local offenses. The District, like states and territories, should have full control of its local criminal justice system, the most basic responsibility of local government. Since the D.C. Council has the authority to enact local laws, District officials are in the best position to grant clemency for local law convictions. My bill would provide all clemency authority not currently reserved to the Mayor under D.C. Code 1–301.76 to the District government and would give D.C. the discretion to establish its own clemency system.

This bill is an important step in establishing further autonomy for the District in its own local affairs. I urge my colleagues to support this measure.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

DOJ Late in Appeal of OPA Incompetence

Click on Image (Above) to Enlarge
Maybe - like OPA  - they will wait a few years:

"For eight years in the Bush administration, and until 2015 of the Obama administration (see .pdf attachment sent to me in April of 2015), I requested copies of case covers for granted clemency applications from the Office of the Pardon Attorney. More specifically, the information I sought was the date granted applications were filed and the date that they were forward to the White House. These requests were usually sent, acknowledged, fulfilled in a matter of days, 2-3 weeks max (see Excel attachment).

William N. Taylor II "Executive Officer" of OPA (I assume) then simply stopped responding to FOIA requests. He then stopped acknowledging FOIA requests were being received at all. Consequently, I have waited, quite literally, for years (see attachment), for any indication whatsoever that OPA operates under the requirements of FOIA. I was advised by the previous pardon attorney to wait until the Obama administration ended.

So, this evening (February 8, 2017), I sent an e-mail to OPA, politely inquiring whether or not it intends to knowledge / fulfill FOIA requests this year (2017)? Within minutes, six requests (identification numbers 2015-18, 2015-65, 2016-122, 2016-126, 2016-129, 2016-130 – which were 784, 680, 309, 279, 250, 189 days old respectively) were responded to, in e-mails, and given "full denial." The Executive Officer explained: “... After carefully considering your request, I have determined that if any such records do exist, they are exempt from disclosure ...”

I don’t believe Mr. Taylor should be able to “address” the backload of FOIA requests he has by cursory dismissal and summarily overturning 14-15 years of past practice. He should be required to do his job and keep that Office in compliance with FOIA."

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Virginia: Pardons for the Norfolk Four

The Associated Press reports Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe has granted absolute pardons to four former sailors - known as the "Norfolk Four - "ending a decades-long fight to clear the men of rape and murder convictions based on intimidating police interrogations." DNA evidence linked another individual to a 1979 rape and killing and he claimed to be solely responsible.

Three of the men - Danial Williams, Joseph Dick and Derek Tice - were actually granted "conditional pardons" by Gov. Tim Kaine, in 2009 "and released from prison because of doubts about their guilt, but their convictions remained on the books." A judge then vacated two of the convictions, saying, "no sane human being" could find them guilty. A third convictions was erased in 2009. See full story here.

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