Vermont Probably Sent Wrong Person to Jail for 18 Years

On August 22, a judge ordered a man 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.

John Grega was released on $75,000 bail pending a new trial based on DNA evidence that was not considered in the original trial. He is 50 years old. The date for the new trial has not yet been decided. Grega’s lawyer is Ian Carleton of Burlington, Vermont.

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

As of this year, 297 prisoners in the USA have been proven innocent using DNA. These people served an average of 13 years in prison before being freed. Seventeen of the people who were freed had been sentenced to death but were freed before the government could execute them. This data is from www.InnocenceProject.org

Vermont's prison population doubled between 1996 and 2006, from 1,058 to 2,123, while crime rates did not increase. That's according to www.pewstates.org.

About half the people in U.S. prisons are there for non-violent crimes, mostly related to drugs. About 312 million people live in the USA. As of 2008, there were about 2.3 million people in the nation's prisons. No other nation on earth incarcerates such a high percentage of its people. As of 2008, the U.S. 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."

Alexander will speak about her book in Amherst on November 1 and/or November 2. Details are at:

www.newjimcrow.com/events.html

She lists groups that work to reduce the number of prisoners in the U.S. at:

www.newjimcrow.com/action.html

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