Friday, 14 October 2011

slow progress

Last night Stephen called to say that he had returned home from Indiana, where he had visited Blade Reed at the Wabash Valley prison and, the next day, went to Brown County to meet Blade’s attorneys and file the writ of habeas corpus with the court that sentenced Blade as an adult on December 7, 2009 for aggravated battery and robbery resulting in serious injury. Blade received a 30 year sentence.
The writ seeks the remedy that Blade’s guilty plea be nullified and that he be resentenced as a juvenile. Even though Blade was 13 years old at the time of the crime, extensive psychological evaluations since then have shown he is autistic and had the mental capacity of an 8-year-old.
The court has up to 90 days from the time of filing to either grant the writ or to schedule a court hearing. It will be interesting, to say the least, to see what position prosecutor Jim Oliver will take with respect to the writ. Given the litany of horrors Blade has suffered in adult prison (see “Adult Consequences,” August 6, 2011 and “Worse Than I Knew,” August 14, 2011), I would think Oliver should be ashamed to have these outcomes revealed in court. However, Oliver scored political points through Blade’s original trial and his ego may prevent him from admitting that the sentence he engineered was unduly cruel and barbaric.
It has taken us nearly two years to reach this pivotal point. You may ask, “Why so long?” and I would have to answer, “Because we needed your involvement to make the crucial difference.”
Steven first became involved in Blade’s case in July 2009. From the outset he had daunting challenges to overcome. It took Stephen months to locate civil liberties attorneys who were willing to take up Blade’s case on a pro bono basis. It took him many more months to identify a psychologist to conduct a competent psychological evaluation, and then at the last minute that psychologist backed out and Stephen had to find another. Blade was being held in solitary confinement for over a year, which prevented and delayed the psych evaluation. And then there was the need to raise money to pay for the psychologist, and then the need for more money to pay for the research and preparation of the habeas corpus writ, which is over 35 pages long.
In the end, it was you—and your financial support—that broke the log jam. The process is flowing now, thanks to you. All this time, Blade has been beaten, raped, taunted, and abused, and it continues to this day. Yet for the first time, there is hope.
Blade doesn’t feel the hope yet. Stephen said Blade seemed quite depressed during their visit. Nevertheless, I must admit to feeling a sense of perverse pleasure that there is plenty of that to be spread around.
Stephen told me that when the habeas writ was handed to Brown County Judge Judith Stewart, she sighed.


Groove of the Day 

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