PUBLISHER'S NOTE: The Innocence Project - together with the Innocence Project of Florida and Actual Innocence - 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 illustrates the point. 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 a lawyer felt compelled the accused person to enter a guilty plea to a lesser offence in order to avoid the ramifications of a conviction - almost guaranteed by the now notorious former doctors involvement in the case. Look out for Guilty Plea Series (part 1): Dinesh Kumar; Wednesday January 11, 2017);
Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;
RELEASE: "Innocence Project gears up to launch new guilty plea campaign," released by The Innocence Project, on January 9, 2017.
GIST: "Innocent people are pleading guilty to crimes they did not commit. Nearly 10% of the nation’s 347 DNA exonerations were innocent people who entered guilty pleas, and these no doubt represent just a small fraction of the innocent people who have pleaded guilty. There’s no telling how many more innocents who entered guilty pleas remain behind bars. America’s guilty plea problem is absolutely critical to the work that we do every day, and we are committed more than ever to fixing it. Join us on January 23rd for our release of a new website about the guilty plea problem in America – telling the stories of exonerees who faced this issue and how it changed the lives of them and their loved ones. By bringing attention to the plea problem, we hope to promote a solid and widespread understanding of the issue that will propel forward effective nationwide solutions. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to catch special updates and sneak previews we’ll be sharing of more stories, facts, and information about the campaign as we approach its launch. And most importantly, help us tell these stories that need to be heard. Visit the campaign preview page, and share it with your friends and colleagues."
The entire release can be found at:
See countdown to the January 23, 2017 launching date - and an opportunity to receive updates - at the link below:
See Innocence Project of Florida release at the link below: "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."
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/