PUBLISHER'S NOTE: Guilty plea Series: Part (8): U.S. Cases; Jerry Frank Townsend; The Innocence Project has demonstrated a compelling need to expose the disturbing number of convictions in America attributed to guilty pleas rendered by innocent people in America. However, the problem of false guilty pleas is is common to many other jurisdictions, including Ontario, where I reside. I would like to make my own contribution to the Innocence Project's campaign, by running a series of posts taken from this Blog and elsewhere, which vividly illustrate the point. (Many of the posts were based on reports by my friend and colleague the late Tracey Tyler. the Toronto Star's talented legal affairs reporter for many years, until her untimely death. She had no patience for miscarriages of justice.) A common factor in many of the cases in this series is the presence of former doctor Charles Smith, the namesake of this Blog. In each case, the defence lawyer recommended a guilty plea to a lesser offence in order to avoid the ramifications of a conviction on the more serious charge - almost guaranteed by the now notorious former doctor's involvement in the case - in spite of the client's protests of innocence.
Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;
POST: Guilty Plea Problem: Why do innocent people plead guilty,"by Alejandra de la Fuente, published by The Florida Innocence Project on January 9, 2017.
GIST: "26-year-old Jerry Frank Townsend suffers from a mental disability. Despite having the mental capacity of an eight-year-old, Jerry pled guilty to the rape of a pregnant woman in Miami in 1979. Police began to take Jerry to different crime scenes around the state, resulting in six different confessions for various murders in South Florida throughout the seventies. This resulted in seven concurrent life sentences, guaranteeing Jerry would spend the rest of his life in prison. Jerry was in prison for nearly 22 years before DNA evidence cleared him of two murders in Broward County and eventually exonerated him of all the crimes. He was released at the age of forty-nine on June 15th, 2001. Now we know that his confessions were the result of his intellectual disability which encouraged him to give the police the answers they wanted to hear, a common adaptive practice for someone with his mental capacities. Innocent people are pleading guilty to crimes they did not at an alarming rate. Nearly 10% of the nation’s 347 DNA exonerations are innocent people who entered guilty pleas and didn’t go to trial. This is why we are teaming up with the Innocence Project in New York and Actual Innocence to bring awareness to the issue with the launch of their new site Guilty Plea Problem on January 23rd. Jerry Frank Townsend is not an outlier. Sometimes, it can feel like a guilty plea is the only thing standing between you and the death penalty. Ordinary people are faced with an extraordinary choice every day: confess to a crime you did not commit or receive a harsher sentence in court. Through this campaign, we hope to address the growing issue of a criminal justice system that puts pressure on people to plead guilty. To help spread the message, be sure to check out GuiltyPleaProblem.Org and sign up for their updates. We will also be posting more information and facts about the reality of guilty pleas on our Facebook and Twitter.http://floridainnocence.org/content/?p=13497
The entire post can be found at:
The entire post can be found at:
PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at: http://www.thestar.com/topic/