Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Juvenile Education: Inside a Confined World

Photographer and professor Richard Ross has spent the last five years documenting juvenile detention facilities throughout the nation. The NewsHour recently spoke with him in his studio at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

For the full story:

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

things to come

by dandailey

Yesterday it was announced that children under the supervision of the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC) will no longer be housed in a privately-run prison or subjected to brutal solitary confinement under the terms of a groundbreaking settlement of a federal class-action lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

The lawsuit charged that conditions at the Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility, operated by GEO Group, Inc., the nation's second-largest private prison corporation and which houses youth convicted as adults, are unconstitutional.
The federal court in Jackson MS will enter a consent decree on March 22, which will likely be remembered as the beginning of the end in the US of torturing kids with solitary confinement. This is the first time a federal court will have categorically banned a state from subjecting young people to this morally reprehensible practice.
The decree will ban Mississippi’s use of solitary confinement as a form of punishment for anyone under the age of 18, even if they were convicted as adults. Furthermore, it will require that kids convicted as adults are to be housed in facilities governed by juvenile justice rather than adult standards. MDOC will be required to provide the youth with a broad variety of rehabilitative services and strong protections from sexual abuse and violence—exactly what we are demanding for Blade Reed in Indiana.
While in solitary, youths are held in almost complete isolation and sensory deprivation with virtually no human contact, without books, paper or pens, radios, pictures, access to television or any kind of recreational activity, and are denied all visits, telephone calls and even mail from their families. As we have seen with Blade Reed at the Wabash Valley Correctional Institution, if prison staff tags a kid as suicidal—which they often do with punitive motives—that kid is stripped naked and denied a mattress, which is more likely to drive a kid to suicide than to help improve his state of mind.
At the same time that this announcement was coming out of Mississippi, Indiana officials were engaged in a disinformation campaign addressed to those of us who have written to the Indiana Department of Corrections (IDOC) about Blade Reed’s mistreatment.
In an identical form letter sent to at least two of our people, Ombudsman Bureau director Charlene Burkett, a direct appointee of Governor Mitch Daniels, made the following assertions which we know to be patently untrue: that Blade “has adjusted well in the unit where he is placed. He has received education and has done well working with administrators. They actually bring school directly to him and he is reportedly doing quite well and is working towards receiving a GED, which seems to be inconsistent with any claims of him being severely Autistic.”
In point of fact, Blade functions mentally below the level of a 12-year-old, his autism is thoroughly documented and known to IDOC, he is failing in his GED efforts, he is being harassed and tormented by the prison staff who report to the administrators with whom Blade is supposedly working so well, and he has adjusted so poorly to his adult prison setting that he has made at least two suicide attempts and was, in fact, under a suicide watch at the very time that Ms. Burkett was making her disingenuous, incredible claims.
This “ombudsman” is obviously not an honest broker, but a public relations flack assigned to the impossible task of holding back the changing tide. Ms Burkett, either tell the truth or please just keep your mouth shut! You are only making a bad situation worse and destroying your personal credibility (and possibly your career).
The situation at Wabash has taken a turn for the worse. In a shake-down yesterday of Blade's cell, a sharp file was planted by the guards, who proceeded to call Blade a "little fucker," a "discrace to the human race," and who said: "We ought to kill you, you little bastard." We know the nail file was a plant; otherwise Blade would have used it last week when he tried to cut his wrists with his fingernails.
Time is running out and the situation is rapidly deteriorating.
Many of us who work as juvenile justice advocates have had a growing sense that society is approaching a “tipping point” where we will collectively realize that the “justice” and “corrections” industries have gone terribly, horrendously wrong in America—so wrong that we subject many of our own children to torture in the delusional belief that we are disciplining them into better people… a degeneracy no less mad than the incestuous father who claims he is teaching his daughter to become a good wife by raping her.
“Based on available data, there are at least 80,000 prisoners in isolated confinement on any given day in America’s prisons and jails, including some 25,000 in long-term solitary in supermax prisons,” according to Solitary Watch. This estimate is prisoners of all ages; the portion which is juveniles is not known.
"It's been known for a long time that prolonged solitary confinement causes terrible suffering and psychiatric breakdown even in mature healthy adults—let alone in emotionally vulnerable children and teenagers," said Margaret Winter, associate director of the ACLU National Prison Project. Solitary confinement worsens pre-existing mental illness and disabilities in kids like Blade, and kids under the age of 18 are particularly vulnerable to the damaging effects of solitary.
“It devours the victims incessantly and unmercifully,” Alexis de Tocqueville reported more than 180 years ago from a prison in New York. “It does not reform, it kills.”
The effects are so well understood that international law recognizes that solitary confinement can rise to torture and now prohibits solitary confinement of any person under the age of 18, strongly condemning it as a form of cruel, inhuman, and degrading punishment.
Tragically, the United States has been moving in the opposite direction: since the 1990s, 47 states have actually made it easier to try kids as adults and to incarcerate them in the same harsh and dangerous conditions to which adults are subjected.
Yet this Mississippi ruling is a harbinger of things to come that will eventually sweep across the nation, including Indiana. As we know, the courts in each state unfortunately move at a glacial pace, and every state has legions of professional liars who, like Ms. Burkett, are assigned to carry out delaying actions that will only forestall the inevitable.
But Blade is running out of time right now. He cannot wait for the courts to grind through their process nor for public perception and political pressure to overcome the resistance offered by bureaucrats who paper over the state’s official brutalities. Blade needs relief now.
I got out my calculator and found that only 1 in 5 of those who have visited the Diary in the last 3 days have gone on to the petition site and signed on. I had hoped we might do better than this. Maybe it’s my fault for not being more persuasive.
I implore you to please take an extra two minutes right now to click on this link and sign the petition to stop the torture of Blade Reed at Wabash. Even though he has been released from the “strip cell,” he is still being held in solitary confinement. We must break past the barrier of official lies and get him out. Your small investment of time may help to save his life. Seriously. Truthfully.
Please visit this link now and sign the petition for Blade Reed!
Groove of the Day 

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Help the Sanford Family take a stand for justice and truth.

If you don't stand for something you will fall for anything.
Malcolm X
April 9, 2012, at 8 a.m. on her doorsteps at the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice

Saturday, 25 February 2012

End the torture of autistic juvenile Blade Reed in the Wabash Prison

We have started this petition to ask the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility to cease in their abuse and torture of an autistic juvenile. Furthermore, we want Blade transfered to the juvenile youthful offenders program right away so he may receive the education, rehabilitation services, and special needs programs he is promised by law.

He has been treated as a throwaway child, his life deemed worthless and irrelevant. That is all going to change. Beginning now. And here's why...

Blade Reed was 13 years old when he was involved in a crime, along with his older brother, involving two elderly neighbors. Despite being significantly developmentally and cognitively disabled, Blade was sentenced to 30 years in the adult criminal court for robbery (with severe bodily injury). At the time of the crime he was reportedly functioning at the level of an 8-to-10 year old child. To date, Blade is 17 years old and he does not even function at the level of a 12 year old child.

Blade is autistic. Though his disability is a part of his permanent medical record, the prison facility responsible for his care has subjected him to torture and abuse that would be unacceptable for any person, let alone someone who is autistic.

Since Blade's incarceration in Wabash Valley Correctional Facility (an adult facility) he has suffered a long list of egregious punishments and horrors, ranging from multiple rapes and violent beatings. To escape these horrendous conditions and further torture at the hands of others, Blade has attempted to commit suicide a number of times. Read more about what Blade has been through and see a timeline by clicking here.

Blade has been held in solitary confinement since February 2nd because of an altercation he had with another inmate. The other inmate has a history of antagonizing Blade, yet nothing has been done to restrict their interaction. After taking a swing at the other inmate, Blade was punished for fighting. By February 11th, Blade's mother reported that her son was unwell and having a very difficult time with the solitary confinement. The other inmate received several days of lockup in his cell - a sharp contrast to what you are about to read about Blade (click here for an even more detailed description).

On February 25th, Blade was moved from solitary confinement into a "strip cell". He has been forced to strip down into his underwear. He does not have a mattress or anything to give him any comfort. He has nothing to assist in passing the long hours he spends completely alone. He is on suicide watch for 72 hours because after enduring several sleep-derived nights of listening to other inmates bang on their cells he could no longer take it and he attempted suicide using his fingernails.

Blade is an autistic individual functioning at the level of a 12 year old child. The Indiana Department of Corrections has the ability to house him in their youthful offenders program and facility until he is 21. In such a setting Blade would receive access to an education, rehabilitation services, and accommodations for his disability. Currently he is receiving none of those things. Further, he is experiencing what can only be described as torture and abuse at the hands of those who have a legal and ethical responsibility to ensure his safety and care.

In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. The Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA) addresses the authority and responsibility of the U.S. Attorney General to "investigate conditions of confinement at State and local government institutions such as prisons, jails, pretrial detention centers, juvenile correctional facilities, publicly operated nursing homes, and institutions for people with psychiatric or developmental disabilities. Its purpose is to allow the Attorney General to uncover and correct widespread deficiencies that seriously jeopardize the health and safety of residents of institutions."

Moreover, the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility is also in violation with the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child. Though the United States (along with only Somalia) has not ratified this agreement, it has agreed to its obligations and covenants by signing it.

Wabash is in direct violation with the following articles:

Article 19 (Protection from all forms of violence): Children have the right to be protected from being hurt and mistreated, physically or mentally. Governments should ensure that children are properly cared for and protect them from violence, abuse and neglect by their parents, or anyone else who looks after them. In terms of discipline, the Convention does not specify what forms of punishment parents should use. However any form of discipline involving violence is unacceptable. There are ways to discipline children that are effective in helping children learn about family and social expectations for their behaviour – ones that are non-violent, are appropriate to the child's level of development and take the best interests of the child into consideration. In most countries, laws already define what sorts of punishments are considered excessive or abusive. It is up to each government to review these laws in light of the Convention.

Article 23 (Children with disabilities): Children who have any kind of disability have the right to special care and support, as well as all the rights in the Convention, so that they can live full and independent lives.

Article 28: (Right to education): All children have the right to a primary education, which should be free. Wealthy countries should help poorer countries achieve this right. Discipline in schools should respect children’s dignity. For children to benefit from education, schools must be run in an orderly way – without the use of violence. Any form of school discipline should take into account the child's human dignity. Therefore, governments must ensure that school administrators review their discipline policies and eliminate any discipline practices involving physical or mental violence, abuse or neglect. The Convention places a high value on education. Young people should be encouraged to reach the highest level of education of which they are capable.

Article 37 (Detention and punishment): No one is allowed to punish children in a cruel or harmful way. Children who break the law should not be treated cruelly. They should not be put in prison with adults, should be able to keep in contact with their families, and should not be sentenced to death or life imprisonment without possibility of release.

We will not rest until Blade Reed is moved to the youthful offenders program and out of the adult program that has caused him so much physical and psychological trauma.

Please visit this link right now and let your voice be heard!

suicide watch

by dandailey
Since February 2 when Blade Reed was goaded into taking a swing at another kid in the Wabash Valley Correctional Institution’s youthful offender wing, it’s been like watching a train wreck happening in slow motion.
Now I’m sorry I haven’t told you anything about this before now, but we were afraid the prison staff would carry out reprisals against the kid if we were to make any waves.
The staff has always reserved particular cruelties for Blade, but now it seems to us that the best way to protect him is to bring attention to the inhumane brutalities to which he is being subjected.
Right now things couldn’t get much worse for Blade, who is now in a “strip cell” in the solitary confinement unit without anything at all to occupy or calm him—that is, it couldn't get worse unless the authorities were to take away his underwear or give him a razor blade (as has happened before). They're tormenting a vulnerable, mentally-disabled juvenile.
This is state-sanctioned torture… and to what end?
The authorities would tell you they’re punishing Blade for fighting per standard IDOC procedure, and teaching him that fighting doesn’t wash at Wabash. But my take on it is that they’re meting out special treatment designed to break him or kill him, demanding behavior from Blade with which, as an autistic kid, he is not wired to comply. Despite his 17 years, Blade Reed has been evaluated and documented as functioning mentally somewhere around the level of a 10-year-old. He was functioning at an 8-year-old level at the time he was arrested and charged as an adult for his role as an accessory in a murder committed by his older brother, who called all the shots in his domineering relationship with Blade.
The incident that has landed Blade in solitary confinement was initiated by another prisoner who has taken on the torment of Blade Reed as a special pastime. He knows Blade’s hot buttons and knows that he can goad Blade into reacting to harassment that will get Blade punished much more severely than he will be punished. The authorities have consistently failed to keep Blade and his tormenter separated, and they appear to allow situations to escalate until Blade predictably does something stupid.
The other boy was confined to his cell for only five days without phone or recreation privileges; Blade was sent off to solitary confinement until April 5, where he is deprived of much more than phone and recreation, and subjected to conditions including sleep depravation that exacerbate his mental health issues.

With the full knowledge of the prison’s top administrators, a hearing was held on February 8, whereupon Blade was placed in “Administrative Segregation,” which is a prison euphemism for solitary confinement. From past experience, the authorities know this only makes Blade’s state of mind worse. This time, as a concession to help ameliorate the negative impact isolation would have on Blade’s wellbeing, the administration promised they would allow Blade to have a radio with headphones (which Stephen and Mrs. Reed paid for), but it was never delivered by the prison commissary.
Blade’s mother visited him on February 11, just three days into his solitary confinement, and she reported that Blade looked terrible. She said he had bags under eyes and drawn features. She said he seemed to be suffering.
Since Blade’s isolation began, Stephen has received two letters from Blade. The first one seemed upbeat and hopeful, and Blade promised to get through the ordeal the best he could. The second letter, however, seemed more ominous as Blade explained what he was facing and how it compared to his previous experiences in isolation. Some highlights:
“The last time I was here in the CCU, I had many problems.
“#1 Most important, I got minimum to no schooling, and for the schooling I did get there was no help. I didn't receive the material or help that I needed to learn.
“#2 Staff were constantly messing with me. I was rarely able to come out of my cell for a shower or recreation, and when I was allowed to, you know what happened.
(Note: See my previous post, “Worse than I Knew,” at:
“#3 Recreation for us juveniles is supposed to be 2 hours a day. I was lucky to get an hour once or twice a week, when I did get it at all.
“#4 I was sprayed with mace and pepper spray twice, cell extracted, beat up, and harassed all the time by staff members.
“#5 Many times I went without eating because I was in a strip cell and staff would either not care to bring me my food or when they did bring it they would touch everything without gloves or wrappers protecting the food.
“#6 They constantly kept me in a strip cell, for one point for over a month, and I was left naked with nothing. At one point I even went one whole week without a mattress or clothes, so I was forced to stay up for 4 days until I finally fell asleep on the steel bed.”

This morning Stephen received a phone call from Blade informing Stephen that he was being transferred from a normal solitary confinement cell to a “strip cell,” which is devoid of anything to occupy his time or make him comfortable. He has been stripped down to his underwear and does not even have a mattress. Blade has been placed on suicide watch for 72 hours because last night, having been sleep deprived for a couple nights, Blade lost it, began pounding on the door for the other inmates to stop making so much noise, and then attempted to cut his wrists with his own fingernails.
Instead of providing conditions which will allow the boy to sleep, providing some basic human comforts, providing the promised radio to help Blade occupy his mind, or exercising compassion or providing any other kindnesses, the authorities are turning up the intensity of the torment and punishments that destabilized the boy in the first place. It is not a prescription for a positive outcome.
We’ve had it, and we will remain quiet no longer. This treatment of Blade Reed by the state of Indiana is in violation of Federal laws and international conventions, and we intend to bring appropriate pressure to bear to end this outrage. But more immediately, we believe that Blade’s life is at risk and we will be organizing a campaign and publicity to get someone in authority in Indiana to intervene before it is too late.
Stay tuned as we organize our efforts and keep a vigil for Blade. If you believe in prayer, please pray for Blade—and for his captors, as well, who must experience a change of mind, heart, and behavior.
Please visit this link right now and let your voice be heard!
Groove of the Day

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Save Cristian Fernandez

Cristian can receive cards and postcards at any time. Please send him one and let him know he has your support:

Cristian Fernandez
Duval Regional Detention Center
1241 East 8th Street
Jacksonville, FL 32206-4099

Starved Wis. Girl's Statements Detail Her Life

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Free Devito, 20 years incarcerated for a crime he didn't commit Smile S...

This is a song by Squeak Macc ft Ray Paul & Mack Larry inspired by the unbelievable, unyielding faith and hope in the eyes of Gary Devito Walker each and every time we go visit him. To still have hope after 20 years of incarceration for a crime he didn't commit is unheard of. Each visit he speaks of his faith in God that one day he will be freed and this injustice will be exposed. PLEASE LISTEN TO EVERY WORD OF THIS SONG!! FREE DEVITO....

Gary Walker convicted of a crime at the age of 16 years old and has been pursuing his innocence for the past 19 years. Gary has not been successful due to the family not being able to afford legal assistance and no- one wants to hear unless they can see money. Gary was only 16 years of age when his terrible ordeal occurred. Gary was never in any kind of trouble before this and was wrongfully convicted of a crime that he had absolutely nothing to do with.

Help the Walker Family take a stand for justice and truth.

time to rise up

by dandailey

I was talking today with a reporter with one of the three newspapers that have been interfering with Jordan Brown’s Constitutional right to a speedy trial, and I want to repeat here what I told this reporter.
Today is the third anniversary of the crime and Jordan's wrongful detention, and justice for Jordan is just as distant and beyond his (and our) reach as it was three long years ago... except that the idea of justice is today more tortured and abused, and we are more cynical and resigned to business-as-usual.
I think it is high time for all of us who have been following and involved in Jordan's case to do some soul-searching and take action. This wrongful imprisonment of a child, the theft of his childhood, is the responsibility of more than just a few dishonest cops and prosecutors and politicians and second-rate lawyers. In varying degrees we have all allowed it to happen. Why have we not risen up en masse and demanded that the evidence, most of which exonerates Jordan, be examined? Why have we not demanded that this outrage against reason and honest justice immediately cease? We are all culpable.
The lawsuit being pursued by the three newspapers is threatening the freedoms of all Americans, not just the rights of a single child. The lawsuit might be good for the newspaper business, but it does not serve a higher good as long as the Constitutional rights of this child are being violated. These papers have no right to invoke First Amendment protections while they contribute to a denial of Jordan's Sixth Amendment rights. If any of us start cherry-picking the Bill of Rights, if any of us start claiming that our Constitutional rights should preempt the Constitutional rights of others, then the whole ideal of freedom in America is doomed.
Who knows? Maybe the whole situation is already too far gone. A lot of people today are saying the Constitution is already null and void. But maybe we can still save it and get our freedoms back.
We are organizing a letter-writing campaign to the US Attorney General, the President, and to Pennsylvania Congressional members to ask for intervention in this case. The state of Pennsylvania has a statute called “Rule 600” that says a person should be tried for a crime within one year of being charged. The statutes regarding juveniles are even more strict: they maintain that a child must be tried within ten days of being charged. Jordan has already waited three years for a trial, and there is no certain end in sight.

Jordan is not doing well these days. He is fighting off depression and losing weight. He is losing ground with every day of prolonged imprisonment. Time is working against him. And remember: Jordan is innocent!
The real killer remains free in Lawrence County PA. He is a violent man, an alcoholic, and a threat to public safety.
Please visit to learn how you can participate in this campaign to end this abuse of an innocent child and this threat to the freedoms of all.
 Please act now. There is no more time to spare.
Groove of the Day 

Monday, 20 February 2012

Davontae Sanford quest for freedom. On both moral and legal grounds

 Davontae Sanford support this young man's quest for freedom. On both moral and legal grounds, we will wage a jihad for his release. We will not tire, we will not relent and we will fight for his justice. An injustice to him is personal to me because it is a wrong against us all. His rights violated were the rights we enjoy under our federal constitutional rights: due process and a fair trial. And it's time to remind this prosecutor, Kym Worthy, of those fundamental principles on April 9, 2012, at 8 a.m. on her doorsteps at the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice. Those who value those rights, please come. Those who are scared to speak out, stay away --Roberto Guzman


Saturday, 18 February 2012

Assistance needed,

Assistance needed, any musicians in the Detroit, Michigan area on April 9th.. who would be willing to donate there time. The cause is for a Innocent teen Davontae Sanford

Thursday, 16 February 2012


Somehow people are starting to think of "entitlements' as 'extra unearned luxuries' that should be taken away during hard times. But the definition of an entitlement is a right that is granted by law or by nature, to which all are guaranteed access. True entitlements are basic needs not luxury items. When politicians insist on cutting 'entitlements' they need to ensure that only luxuries are on the cutting block not basic needs. We have forgotten the basic SOCIAL CONTRACT of rights and responsibilities that binds us together as a society. Society expects citizens to follow laws it has instated in order to protect individuals and institutions. Without these laws there would be chaos -- the strong would simply take anything they wanted and the rest would have no recourse. In return the social contract guarantees that if people follow these rules or responsibilities they will be guaranteed basic rights - life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. A guarantee of life ensures they will have access to basic human needs of water, food and shelter needed to live and to support their family. Liberty involves the ability to engage in activities the individual wishes, as long as it does not violate the law. The pursuit of happiness is a guarantee that the laws are meant to be fair and provide an equal playing field for all members of society, so that through hard work and creative enterprise, all law-abiding citizens are free to strive to attain the wants and desires they believe will bring them happiness. -- Robert Alan Silverstein

Letter of support:Christy Phillips W-94100 C.C.W.F. P.O.BOX 1508 505-3-4up Chowchilla, Ca. 93610

Find more photos like this on Advocates for Abandoned Adolescents

Dear Wayne County Prosecutor's Office: Allow Davontae Sanford To Withdraw His Guilty Plea ...

This Davontae Sanford case was brought to our attention by @Delaproser on twitter... I had no clue about this... but I appreciate she brought this to our attention... as you know we need to know more about these things, because if the lights stay out on these situations- the judicial system will be allowed to sweep these things under the rug and these families will never be able to get the justic…

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

call for cards

by dandailey
For a kid alone in prison, one of the worst days of the year must be your birthday. You're haunted by memories of happier birthdays when you were the center of attention, but this day is a grind just like any other. You're lucky if anyone gives a shit.
We have two kids in prison whose birthdays are coming up soon: Paul Henry Gingerich, who will be 14 on February 17, and James Prindle, who will be 16 on February 23.
Let's give them both a lift by sending birthday cards--lots of them, please.
Here are their addresses:
Paul Henry Gingerich (201351)
c/o Pendleton Juvenile Corrections Facility
PO Box 900
Pendleton, IN  46064
James Prindle (10142158)
C Pod, Cell 18 – Jail East
6201 Haley Road
Memphis, TN  38134
Please let Paul and James know they're not forgotten, that we hold them close even though they're far away.
Groove of the Day 

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Ask Florida Gov. Rick Scott to stop the shackling of Cristian Fernandez!

By Save Cristian Fernandez, Stuart Faulks Gloria Fernandez Lili K Lerma
Write to Florida Governor Rick Scott and ask him to stop the indiscriminate shackling of 13 year old Cristian Fernandez who faces life without parole if convicted when his case goes to trial in the accidental death of his brother.

Though the state of Florida has stopped minors in the juvenile justice system from being shackled without sufficient cause, juveniles in the adult system are not afforded the same protection. Write to Governor Rick Scott and ask him to tell those responsible for shackling Cristian that this practice is degrading, humiliating, and morally reprehensible.
It needs to stop!

You may write to the governor using this form (If you are not in Florida...put in Jacksonville zip code 32202, County=Duval) :

Please encourage others to do the same by inviting them to join this event or by writing them and asking them to contact the governor.

Also please take a moment and sign the following petitions regarding this very issue:

Sunday, 12 February 2012


by Georgia PaulBot
If you care about liberty, if the US Constitution means anything at all to you - then stand up for this boy's right to be heard in court: Jordan Brown has been held WITHOUT TRIAL for 3 YEARS (he is now 14 years old). Three years ago Jordan was arrested and charged with the murder of his father's pregnant fiancee and the baby she carried-- Jordan has steadfastly maintained his innocence! 

PLEASE, please, join the FB group "SAVE JORDAN BROWN". Nothing is required of you but to BE COUNTED, more numbers means more attention for his case, and more attention means HOPE for Jordan Brown to see true justice done. Thank you. 

Jordan was to finally have a hearing/trial in Sept 2011, after his case had been moved from the adult system to the juvenile system (August 2011), but days before this long overdue hearing was to take place, three local Pennsylvania newspapers sued for the right to have his juvenile case OPEN TO THE MEDIA (arguing, basically, that since they have already destroyed his right to privacy, he no longer has the right to privacy normally accorded juvenile cases). This action immediately halted the proceedings until a decision can be reached.

While attorneys for these three newspapers battle this out in the courts (possibly another 6 months before a resolution is reached), Jordan Brown's rights are all but forgotten!

Meanwhile, Jordan's grandmother and his dad are forced to travel in excess of 100 miles a day, in a vehicle quickly wearing out, to visit with Jordan in order to maintain some sanity and consistency in his young life while this nightmare continues. 

At the very least, Jordan should be released to his dad's custody WHILE the newspapers' litigation is ongoing. This boy is no threat to anyone, as a matter of fact Jordan called Kenzie (the murder victim) "mom" even though she and his dad were not yet married, he never threatened to kill her, as her ex-boyfriend did, repeatedly, and Jordan had only recently found out that the Easter Bunny was not in fact real. 

When I think of the innocence the state has stolen from this child...

As opposed to this child who has now been incarcerated for 3 years without an opportunity to put on a defense, while maintaining his innocence... take a quick look at the piece of work who was Kenzie's ex-boyfriend, the guy who threatened to kill her on several occasions, "or have someone else do it", Adam Harvey (link to PFAs Kenzie Houk took out on him, to follow)-- 
These are public records; a recording of the facts, maintained by the county, state. These incidents were investigated, and recorded by law enforcement officers.These incidents do not prove any involvement in the murder of Kenzie Houk and her unborn child but they do raise serious questions.

Protection from Abuse: Thursday May 26, 2006 Filed by Kenzie Houk on advice of law enforcement. Take note of Kenzie Houk's words in points #17, 18, and 19.

Protection from Abuse: Sunday Feb 3, 2008. Filed by: Kenzie Houk, on advice of law enforcement. Kenzie Houk's words in points #17, 18*, 19, and a request by Kenzie Houk for additional protection for her family members, named @ #23(e).[*point #18 references prior incident in NC which resulted in her abuser being jailed, following which Ms. Houk left NC and returned home to PA].

Approx. 1 week prior to the murders of Feb. 20, 2009, Adam Harvey discovered that he was NOT the father of Kenzie's (at the time) 4 yo daughter, even though she had taken him to court for, and he had been paying, child support. 

On the morning of the murders, the state asserts that Jordan calmly killed Kenzie, then got on the school bus with her 7 yo daughter like nothing had happened. When Jordan and 7 yo Janessa were questioned later that morning by police (at the school, and without his dad's knowledge or permission), Janessa said that she had not heard/seen anything unusual that morning, and Jordan (11 yo at the time) said that the only thing he had noticed that was different was a black truck, parked near the house/property, when he and Janessa were getting on the bus. Adam Harvey drove a black truck.

Janessa was questioned again and gave the same response: she had not seen or heard anything unusual the morning her mother was killed, however after time spent with her grandparents -- who were grieving the loss of their daughter (Kenzie Houk)-- Janessa's recollection changed dramatically: during the next questioning by law enforcement, Janessa offered that she'd heard a loud bang, that she's seen Jordan carrying something in a blanket, and that she'd seen him drop something outside, near the bushes. THIS is the sole testimony the state is relying on.

Two attorneys (Dennis Elisco, Stephen Colafella) are working Jordan's case "pro bono".

January 17, 2012
Jordan Brown Case: Attorneys seek teen’s release
Nancy Lowry

Jordan Brown, age 11, booked into an adult jail.

(If you are interested in learning more -- Google "wandervogel diary jordan brown" and "justice4juveniles jordan brown")

Unshackle Juveniles in the Courtroom

Historically, the shackling of prisoners has been a form of punishment or discipline but in more modern...
Target: Pennsylvania Superior Court & Lawrence County Judge John Hodge
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Historically, the shackling of prisoners has been a form of punishment or discipline but in more modern times has been used as an instrument of restraint, particularly when moving inmates from one area of a facility to another, or transporting them to and from a facility for court appearances. It has applied to both juveniles and adults but in the last decade, the practice with regard to the shackling of juveniles has received widespread condemnation and deemed a violation of their constitutional (if not human) rights.
As of 2007, 28 states regularly practiced the shackling of juveniles during court appearances. In the last several years alone, there have been numerous instances where the use of shackles has been seen as not only dehumanizing and degrading, but completely unnecessary.
Patricia Puritz, executive director of the National Juvenile Defender Center commented that shackling "is so egregious, so offensive, so unnecessary" and "There is harm to the child and there is also harm to the integrity of the process. These children haven't even been found guilty of anything."
A case in point is that of Jordan Brown, who at the age of eleven was arrested and charged with the murder of his father's fiance and her unborn child in 2009, in Wampum, Pennsylvania.
His appearance in court for his arraignment (and subsequent pre trial hearings) with his small frame shackled both wrist and ankle, alarmed not only his family and advocates against this archaic practice but most rational thinking people as well. His family was told that the he will continue to be shackled in the courtroom until such time as he is brought before a jury at trial, the reason for which is specious at best, as the prosecution would feel a shackled child may influence a jury to be more compassionate than they would like.
In 2011, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania adopted Rule 139, specifically "to eliminate shackling during a court proceeding in almost every case. Only in the few extreme cases should such restraints be utilized".
Another juvenile who has been paraded, shackled, before the media and the court is Cristian Fernandez who at age twelve was arrested and charged with the murder of his two-year-old stepbrother in Jacksonville, Florida. Like Jordan, the evidence against him is weak and his behavior whilst detained, exemplary. Yet, he continues to be brought before the court shackled when it is obvious the child poses no threat to anybody whatsoever. Curiously no motion has been filed on his behalf to allow him to appear unrestrained.
The argument for those in support of shackling was essentially rendered moot, when in 2009, the Florida Supreme Court limited the use of shackling juveniles with the amendment (effective January 1, 2010) to Rule 8.100 (General Provisions for Hearings) which reads in part;
Rule 8.100(b)
Instruments of restraint may not be used on a child during court and must be re-moved unless the court makes a finding that both
1. the use of the shackles are necessary due to one of these factors
A. to prevent harm to the child or another
B. the child has a history of disruptive behavior that has placed others in harmful situations or present a substantial risk of risk inflicting harm on themselves or others as evidenced by recent behavior or
C. the child is a flight risk
2. there is no less restrictive alternative that will prevent flight or harm
As stated by the Florida Supreme Court, "We find the indiscriminate shackling of children in Florida courtrooms as described in the NJDC's Assessment repugnant, degrading, humiliating and contrary to the stated primary purposes of the juvenile justice system and to the principles of therapeutic justice, a concept which this Court has previously been acknowledged."
The states of California, Connecticut, Illinois, New Mexico, North Dakota, North Carolina, Oregon, and Vermont no longer shackle juvenile defendants as a result of State Supreme Court rulings or legislative action.
In 2010, Justice Milton A. Tingling Jr. of the State Supreme Court in Manhattan found "that the agency's policy violated the state's own law on shackling youths in custody".
There is an obvious and growing trend toward amending juvenile procedures in the courtroom and it is my hope that you will give this petition the consideration it deserves and sign it so as this violation of not only law, but the rights of all juvenile defendants will be recognized in future


We ask for your support to free Davontae, there has been an unprecedented media black out in this case, given it's high profile status the Media has consistently ignored this young child's fight, we ask why? via @change!/JUSTICEDAVONTAE

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Davontae Sanford

Davontae Sanford is now 19. He has spent the last five years of his short life in adult prisons, convicted of murdering four people on Runyon Street on Detroit’s east side on Sept. 15, 2007, when he was 14. He is 5’6,’’ slightly-built, blind  in one eye, and “developmentally disabled.”

Shortly after Davontae was sentenced to 37 to 90 years in prison in 2008, Vincent Smothers, now 28, of Shelby Township, confessed to the Detroit police on videotape that he a
nd a different man committed the murders as part of a series of drug-related hits. Highly placed members of the police department have testified they believe Davontae is innocent, including a former chief of homicide who says Davontae was with him at the time of the murders.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Fighting for Justice Radio Call-In

By Seek Justice

Tuesday, 21 February 2012 12:00 until 13:00

We are asking Davontae's supporters to call in to the "Fighting for Justice" program and ask hosts to cover details and developments in Davontae's case. Call-In line: 313.298.1200

In the Detroit area listen on your radio AM-1200 and FM 99.9FM

Outside Detroit area listen over Internet stream:

Fighting for Justice Radio Program

Hosted by Richard Bernstein

Next Scheduled Shows Tuesdays, Feb 21 & 28 from Noon to 1 p.m.

on WCHB-1200, Detroit

Fighting for Justice will examine wrongful convictions and other social justice issues. It is hosted by Richard Bernstein who is no stranger to taking on the issues that discriminate against people who have less. Richard is a highly acclaimed and accomplished lawyer in the Detroit area.

The first show, Jan 3rd, featured Ken Wyniemko, a friend and advisor of Proving Innocence. Ken is an exoneree who spent 8.5 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Since his exoneration, Ken has worked tirelessly to institute legislative reforms to change the system, as well as supported exonerees in their difficult challenge of readjusting to normal life outside of prison.

As the weeks roll on, periodically, Ken will continue the series, but we have no schedule as such. When Ken is on, Proving Innocence's site is one convenient place you can come to where you will find a widget that will stream the program live. But in the event that you miss a show or want to review others, we will record and archive all the shows that deal with wrongful convictions.

Listeners are encourage to call in to 313.298.1200 to ask questions of Richard or his guest or to express your own views on the subject.

Mo. Teen Gets Life Sentence for Killing Girl, 9

A Missouri teenager who confessed to strangling, cutting and stabbing a 9-year-old neighbor because she wanted to know how it felt to kill someone was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison with the possibility of parole. (Feb. 8)

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

A Failure to Protect the Most Vulnerable Population Behind Bars

. It's time for the responsible adults of our era to prevent our children being waived into the adult system and being discarded into adult prisons. There are thousands upon thousands of adolescents in adult court rooms and prisons all across the U.S. but it can be stopped with your help, by adopting this issue we can take children from the grips of adult prisons, and place them on the path that leads to their maximal development. I implore you to go to!/Advocates4kids


Vincent Smothers wears death all over his body. The self-professed hit man is tattooed on his arms, back, legs and chest — permanent reminders of friends and loved ones who died before him. The names, tombstones and dates of their deaths are impressively etched on his 6-foot-1 lanky frame.
Smothers, 27, says he's no stranger to death. He told police that he stealthily freelanced seven slayings on Detroit's poverty-stricken east side from 2006 to the end of last year.
He said he mostly killed drug dealers who either owed a debt, stole the merchandise or had infringed on someone else's turf. But he also has confessed to killing two men who were targeted as federal informants and a Detroit police sergeant's wife.
In his confession, Smothers told police that he wasn't remorseful until he killed the sergeant's wife.
For the occasion, he donned suits, ties and sunglasses, and usually carried at least two guns — an AK47 and a .40-caliber pistol — for efficiency. He said he practiced shooting at a gun range between jobs.
After high school, Smothers told police he began stealing cars, dabbling in the drug world and robbing dope houses before graduating to contract killings in 2006 for one motivation: money.
By many accounts, Smothers is a soft-spoken and charming man with a handsome smile and a polished persona — certainly not a man who embodied a murder-for-hire existence.
After his April 19 arrest, Smothers described to police the two lives he led: one with his wife and newborn daughter in a tidy townhouse complex in Shelby Township, where he would walk his beloved poodle and politely speak to neighbors; the other as a man who matter-of-factly detailed his deadly trail for police.
Smothers said his first kill occurred on Aug. 16, 2006, in front of a reputed drug house on Strasburg near Gratiot.
He was hired to kill two brothers, but only one was there at the time. Adrian Thornton, 27, was killed by gunshot wounds to the head, chest and legs. Another 28-year-old man suffered a gunshot wound to the left side of the head, but survived.
Weathered teddy bears mark the grassy spot across the street where Thornton collapsed on his back after running from the house.
But Smothers did not forget the other half of his assignment.
Waiting about five months to the day, Smothers said he returned to the Strasburg neighborhood on Jan. 17, 2007, to gun down Carl Thornton, 29. Neighbors said Smothers laid in wait in an abandoned house and ambushed Thornton and a 22-year-old woman, who was shot in the buttocks but survived. Neighbor Nancy Jenkins, 58, said she hit the floor and called 911 when the shooting started. She said she peeked out her window and saw Thornton lying facedown on his front porch, and a woman bleeding and crawling toward her house.
"They sounded like automatic cannons," Jenkins recalled of the gunshots. "I heard it was a hit — that they had stole something from a drug man," she said.
Police say Smothers told them he was hired to kill Marshall White Jr., 56, and Johnny Marshall, 64, because they were believed to be federal informants. The men were found dead about noon May 24, 2007, at Jos. Campau and the I-94 eastbound service drive.
Police found the car with the hood up. White was shot in the head outside the car, and Marshall was in the passenger seat with a gunshot to the face.
A federal source who requested anonymity said the case is under investigation. Smothers has not been charged in those killings.
But he is charged with two counts of first-degree murder for the June 21, 2007, fatal shootings of Clarence Cherry, 34, and Gaudrielle Webster, 18. Cherry was struck 20 times in the head, abdomen, leg, arm and chest. Another woman, Karsia Rice, 18, survived the attack on Gravier, off Cadieux near Mack.
Smothers' accomplice, Lakari Berry, 27, was arrested shortly after the shootout and is serving life in prison with no chance of parole for the killings. Smothers confessed to police that he was the other shooter.
Meanwhile, Smothers has told police he is prepared to take full responsibility for his actions.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Gov. Rick Perry and President of the US: Pardon Shaina Sepulvado who received LWOP at 16

 Shaina Sepulvado, who was sentenced at the age of 16 to LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE for the murder of her abusive step-father in 2007. Here are the reasons we believe Shaina needs and deserves an immediate pardon:
We are asking for a Full pardon for Shaina of the Capitol Murder Charges and conviction for the following reasons.
A) Shaina was a minor at the time of the offense at only 16 years old. There is evidence that supports she was coerced by others especially her own mother.
B) Shaina was said to have a well below average intelligence at an IQ of 73 and that factor was not taken into account at trial, plus this made her more susceptible and vulnerable to being manipulated by others, Especially in the case of a mother.
C) Contradictory expert opinions regarding her culpability and psychological functioning.
D) Lack of Physical Evidence, most was testimony of her co-defendants who were culprits in the crime itself.
E) The research shows that the longer juveniles and young adults are exposed to the adult prison system, the more likely they are to reoffend in the future. We need to remove Shaina from the system before it is too late!

For more information, and up to the date news please help support Shaina here:

Friday, 3 February 2012

Davontae Sanford: Detroit Hit Man Says Kid Is Innocent

by TheNancyLockhartShow

From The Associated Press: A Detroit hit man in prison for eight murders said he's willing to publicly take responsibility for four more to help clear a young man who claims he's innocent of the slayings and confessed at age 14 only to satisfy police.

Vincent Smothers' testimony would be the most crucial evidence yet to try to persuade a judge to throw out Davontae Sanford's guilty plea and free him from a nearly 40-year prison sentence. In an interview with The Associated Press, Smothers declared: "He's not guilty. He didn't do it."

Smothers said he never used a 14-year-old accomplice — blind in one eye and learning disabled — to carry out his paid hits, mostly victims tied to Detroit's drug trade. Ironically, there's no dispute that Smothers confessed to the so-called Runyon Street slayings when he was captured in 2008, but prosecutors have never charged him and never explained why.

"I understand what prison life is like; it's miserable. To be here and be innocent — I don't know what it's like," Smothers said of Sanford, who is now 19. "He's a kid, and I hate for him to do the kind of time they're giving him."

Told about the AP interview, Sanford's attorney said she soon would ask a judge to bring Smothers to court.

"If we can get Mr. Smothers up on the stand, it would be awesome for Davontae," Kim McGinnis said Monday.

Video -

Thursday, 2 February 2012

We ask for your support to Free Davontae Sanford Detroit's Forgotton Child

We ask for your support to Free Davontae, there has been an unprecedented media black out in this case, given it's high profile status the Media has consistently ignored this young child's fight, we ask why?
Do the right thing, change this young man's fate, Sign the petition and send the message it is time to free Davontae now!!

Hitman says 'Teen is Innocent'

A Detroit hit man in prison for eight murders said he's willing to publicly take responsibility for four more to help clear a young man who claims he's innocent of the slayings and confessed at age 14 only to satisfy police.

Vincent Smothers' testimony would be the most crucial evidence yet to try to persuade a judge to throw out Davontae Sanford's guilty plea and free him from a nearly 40-year prison sentence. In an interview with The Associated Press, Smothers declared: "He's not guilty. He didn't do it."

Smothers said he never used a 14-year-old accomplice — blind in one eye and learning disabled — to carry out his paid hits, mostly victims tied to Detroit's drug trade. Ironically, there's no dispute that Smothers confessed to the so-called Runyon Street slayings when he was captured in 2008, but prosecutors have never charged him and never explained why.

"I understand what prison life is like; it's miserable. To be here and be innocent — I don't know what it's like," Smothers said of Sanford, who is now 19. "He's a kid, and I hate for him to do the kind of time they're giving him."

Given this ground breaking news we seek the immediate release of Davontae Sanford. Help us to end this gross miscarriage of justice, sign, share and be counted...No Justice No Peace!