Springfield Man in Prison Since 1985 for Crime He Did Not Commit?

Chris Fabricant is a lawyer and former professor of law in New York City. He works for the Innocence Project, a non-profit organization that has freed 329 people in the USA from prison by proving they did not commit the crime they were imprisoned for. Each of those people spent an average of 14 years in prison. Seventeen of the people who were freed had been sentenced to death but were freed before the government could execute them.

On May 6, Fabricant told the Valley Post that George Perrot of Springfield, Massachusetts has been in prison since 1985 for a crime he did not commit. “We expect a hearing in the case later this summer, and we hope and expect that Mr. Perrot will be granted a new trial, considering that false and misleading 'scientific' evidence was used to secure his conviction,” Fabricant said.

The Innocence Project, which has a web site at www.innocenceproject.org, is also working to free a New Hampshire man who is in prison in Massachusetts. Robert Breest of Concord, New Hampshire has been in prison since 1971 for a crime that he and the Innocence Project say he did not commit. Breest will go before a judge next month.

The USA has about 2.2 million people in prison or jail. That is a 500 percent increase over the past 30 years. (The nation's population increased 34 percent in the past 30 years.)

African Americans and Latinos are much more likely to be in prison in the USA than white people. That's according to this web page, published by lawyers in Northampton:

www.prisonpolicy.org/graphs/raceinc.html

No other nation on earth incarcerates such a high percentage of its people. As of 2008, the USA had about 751 people in prison or jail for every 100,000 in population. "England's rate is 151; Germany's is 88; and Japan's is 63." That's according to "U.S. prison population dwarfs that of other nations," an article by Adam Liptak that appeared in the New York Times on 4/23/2008.

According to the New York Review of Books, "Now and then a book comes along that might in time touch the public and educate social commentators, policymakers, and politicians about a glaring wrong that we have been living with that we also somehow don’t know how to face. 'The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness' by Michelle Alexander [published in 2010] is such a work."

On the book’s web site, she lists groups that work to reduce the number of prisoners in the USA:

www.NewJimCrow.com/take-action

The book "Guns, Germs, and Steel" by Jared Diamond explains why the average black person is much poorer than the average white person. Rich people can afford better lawyers.

In 2012, a judge ordered John Grega released from prison in Springfield, Vermont, near Brattleboro, after 18 years in prison for a murder that he probably did not commit. The murder happened in 1994 in Dover, Vermont, which is also near Brattleboro.

As of 2000, there were about 200,000 wrongfully convicted people in prison in the USA. That's according to the book “Actual Innocence” by New York Times columnist Jim Dwyer and two other authors.

About half the people in U.S. prisons are there for non-violent crimes, mostly related to drugs.

As of 2010, there were 665 Vermonters at private prisons in Kentucky and Arizona. The prisoners were sent there by the state of Vermont. The prisons are owned and operated by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA). To boost profits, CCA and other prison corporations lobby for harsher punishment for possession of drugs. These corporations pay their CEOs millions of dollars a year. Being far from home means the prisoners lose contact with friends and family, making it harder for them to find housing and a job when they get out. This makes it more likely they will end up back in prison, costing taxpayers around $50,000 a year per inmate.

Suzi Wizowaty is a former elected member of the Vermont legislature. She runs a group that works to reduce the number of people that Vermont imprisons. The group's web site is:

www.VermontersForCriminalJusticeReform.org

Comments

incarceration

I must admit that I know very little about the current state of our justice system. One thing I did find out, however, is that with the expense and overcrowding, cities like mine are doing everything they can to keep from paying for jail time for prisoners: early release, restitution, fines, etc. While it is not true that poverty makes people commit crimes, it is associated--as are certain beliefs and behaviors. A big concern is the ability of x-cons to find jobs and stay away from former friends in the drug culture. I do know that some groups whose mission is to surround the released prisoners with a positive environment as they rehabilitate and be there for them. These are church groups and while I hesitate to ask churches to do more and more on the back end of society's casualties, I think it helpful to learn from them how to relate respectfully and effectively to returnees. So, yes, I think a lot more needs to be done to understand and deal with the problem across our whole society. Also, I read about some lawyers who are getting some crimes wiped off the record. That's all.. Thanks for listening

Prison is the safety net in

Prison is the safety net in the US. Since we've abandoned our commitment to try to address poverty we need prison to deal with those who get out of hand.

Maria Cristina Cuerda
Chicopee, Massachusetts

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