Saturday, 28 September 2013

Convicted hitman could help clear another man of murder

Convicted hitman could help clear another man of murder
Justice will prevail #FREEDAVONTAE

Friday, 27 September 2013

Michigan appeals court allows hit man to testify in 2007 drug house killings

 picture from google
A convicted hit man will have the opportunity to testify and possibly clear a young man in a quadruple killing at a Detroit drug house under a Michigan Court of Appeals decision released Friday.
The court ruled that Vincent Smothers could give evidence in the case of Davontae Sanford, who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder after the September 2007 shootings of five people in the house, all but one of whom died. Sanford, who has a learning disability and one eye, was 14 years old at the time.
"We're very excited that Davontae will continue to have the opportunity to show he is innocent," said Jonathan Sacks, deputy director of the State Appellate Defender Office, which is representing Sanford.
As police questioned neighbors, Sanford approached an officer and said he had information. After initially denying involvement, he said he and three other people fired into the house, went inside and stole drugs and money. His account was consistent with evidence investigators found but conflicted with some details, the appeals court opinion said. His attorneys contend Sanford cooperated because he wanted to please the police.
Related story: Court suggests it might allow hit man to testify in murder case appeal
Related story: Detroit man allegedly confesses to double life as a hit man
Sanford was charged with first-degree murder but pleaded guilty to four lesser counts during his trial before a judge.
Later, he learned that Smothers had been arrested on numerous murder-for-hire charges and had confessed to the killings in which Sanford had pleaded guilty.
The Wayne County judge rejected Sanford's effort to withdraw his plea or have Smothers testify.
In their ruling, a three-judge appeals panel made no finding about Sanford's guilt or innocence, or whether he should be able to rescind the plea. The judges also said the trial court didn't err by refusing to produce Smothers as a witness. But they said he should be allowed to testify if willing.
The appeals panel also ordered the trial judge to hear testimony from Smothers' attorney about what he told her regarding the shootings, if he waives his attorney-client privilege, and to consider whether experts should be allowed to testify about false confessions and police interrogation techniques. The defense also should be able to examine files dealing with Smothers' other killings and present any evidence helpful in this case, the panel said.
"The Court of Appeals decision does not allow the defendant to withdraw his guilty plea, but it does remand the case back for further proceedings," said Maria Miller, spokeswoman for the Wayne County prosecutor's office. "At this time we have 56 days to determine how we want to proceed with this matter."{%22594103013964115%22%3A638951182793152}&action_type_map={%22594103013964115%22%3A%22og.recommends%22}&action_ref_map={%22594103013964115%22%3A%22artrectop%22}

Thursday, 26 September 2013

"For Their Own Protection": Children in Long-Term Solitary Confinement

Go to for links to resources mentioned below and more information and videos.

"Why lock somebody up while you're locked up? You're trying to kill their spirit even more," says Michael Kemp, describing his six-month stay in solitary confinement at age 17.

Solitary confinement was once a punishment reserved for the most-hardened, incorrigible criminals. Today, it is standard practice for tens of thousands of juveniles in prisons and jails across America. Far from being limited to the most violent offenders, solitary confinement is now used against perpetrators of minor crimes and children who are forced to await their trials in total isolation. Often, these stays are prolonged, lasting months or even years at a time.

Widely condemned as cruel and unusual punishment, long-term isolation for juveniles continues because it's effectively hidden from the public. Research efforts by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition have struggled to uncover even the most basic facts about how the United States punishes its most vulnerable inmates.

How can a practice be both widespread and hidden? State and federal governments have two effective ways to prevent the public from knowing how deep the problem goes.

The first has to do with the way prisons operate. Sealed off from most public scrutiny, and steeped in an insular culture of unaccountability, prisons are, by their very nature, excellent places to keep secrets. Even more concealed are the solitary-confinement cells, described by inmates as "prisons within prisons." With loose record-keeping and different standards used by different states, it's almost impossible to gather reliable nation-wide statistics.

The second method is to give the old, horrific punishment a new, unobjectionable name. Make the torture sound friendly, with fewer syllables and pleasant language. This way, even when abuse is discovered, it appears well-intentioned and humane.

So American prisons rarely punish children with prolonged solitary confinement. Instead, they administer seclusion and protective custody. Prison authorities don't have to admit that "administrative segregation" is used to discipline children. Just the opposite, actually. It's all being done "for their own protection."

Seclusion? Protecting children? Who could argue with that?

For starters, there is Juan Mendez, the United Nations special rapporteur on torture. Americans are accustomed to the U.N. investigating incidents of prisoner abuse in other countries -- which Mendez has done in faraway places like Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. But increasingly, his inquiries are focused on American prisons.

Mendez spoke publicly about Bradley Manning's deplorable treatment in solitary confinement. Now he is calling on the United States to ban isolation for minors, which he considers, "cruel, unusual, and degrading punishment." It's a recommendation he shares with the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychology.

The ACLU report, Growing Up Locked Down, is one of the few detailed, comprehensive examinations available. This devastating and detailed look at solitary confinement for minors has led to this online petition that will be presented to Attorney General Eric Holder in October 2013.

Because the prison system is so opaque, reform has been slow in coming. A congressional hearing on solitary confinement, chaired by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) last year, heard testimony from mental health experts, questioned the director of federal prisons, and brought a replica of a solitary confinement cell onto the Senate floor. In recent years, seven states -- Maine, Connecticut, West Virginia, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Arizona, and Alaska -- have enacted laws to restrict the use of punitive isolation on young people. As awareness of the magnitude of the problem grows, more reforms are likely to follow.

If we believe that juveniles are inherently less responsible for their actions than adults - and more susceptible to rehabilitation - then it follows that their punishments should be less severe.

Given the severity of the punishment, prohibiting solitary confinement for young people is a first step. The greatest challenge remains demanding greater transparency from a prison system that wields total control over its most vulnerable inmates.

Runs about 13:15 minutes.

Produced, shot, and edited by Todd Krainin.

Still photography of juvenile inmates by Steve Liss. Incidental music by ERH at Freesound.

Go to for links to resources mentoned above, downloadable versions, and more videos.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Trailer for the documentary feature 15 TO LIFE Kenneth's Story


Kenneth Young committed armed robbery at 14. He's guilty. He's now facing life in prison. The United States is the only country in the world that sentences children to life without parole. For over a decade Kenneth believed he would die behind bars, until in 2010 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled life sentences for children who haven't killed illegal. Of the more than 2,500 children sentenced to life, many are now eligible for release. Kenneth Young is living proof of a child's remarkable capacity for change. In a state that favors retribution over rehabilitation, we witness this young man's struggle for a second chance. 15 TO LIFE is a story of redemption that begs the question, how should we treat children in the justice system?

What were you like at 15?

 In this outtake from the film 15 TO LIFE Kenneth's Story, lawyers Paolo Annino and Corinne Koeppen prepare for Kenneth Young's resentencing with one of their key witnesses, psychologist Randy Otto. 15 TO LIFE Kenneth's Story - test screening reactions
Check out what students had to say after a recent test screening of 15 TO LIFE Kenneth's Story at Humber College in Toronto, Canada.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

RBG| School to Prison (A Press TV Clip)

RBG Communivcersity on "Stop the School-To-Prison Pipeline"
Criminalizing the Classroom Report-NYCLU

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Juvenile Justice: Community-Based Alternatives

All kids make mistakes; some get in trouble with the law. Instead of having a chance to learn from their actions, though, they're often sent to costly, dangerous facilities that make them more likely to commit new crimes.

What else can we do? Plenty. Many cost-effective program options, known as "community-based alternatives," have already been developed and tested that serve youth safely in the community instead of incarcerating them in jail-like facilities. Many alternatives have also been developed to divert youth from almost any point in the juvenile justice system.

Learn more at the Juvenile Justice Resource Hub:
Youth Justice Leaders of Tomorrow - Institute Fellows 2012-2013
 The National Juvenile Justice Network's Youth Justice Leadership Institute (YJLI) is designed to help emerging leaders of color in the youth justice reform movement to develop and expand their skills as leaders and advocates. In this video, fellows from the 2012-2013 reflect on their experiences in the Institute and explain why they've dedicated themselves to youth justice system reform. Featuring: Jody Owens, Tanesha Ingram, Helen G├índara, Rashad Hawkins, Teresa King, Delores Moody, Carmen Perez, Madeyln Roman-Scott, Rudy Soto, Erika Stallworth, Diana Onley-Campbell, and Sarah Bryer. Video produced by Yenu Wodajo.

Freedom To Begin Gift Card Campaign!

Freedom to Begin!
Sara Kruzan’s Gift Card Campaign
*Brought to you by Sara’s “Official” Team*

Freedom Fighters, though she cannot go back and make a brand new start, Sara can still begin a new chapter of her life with our help and support!

And trust us, she is ready! Once released, Sara will leave over 19 years of a life of incarceration behind her. She will exit the Central California Women’s Facility with, literally, the clothes on her back. Let’s help pull her up and give her a chance for a fresh new beginning.

Forces for Sara believes that we should "lift as we climb." Help us lift Sara! 

We can all agree that, whatever personal belongings we had when we were 16 years old, wouldn't do much to help us in our lives today. Imagine having far less than that, at 35.  FreedomFighters, here is your chance to help Sara get a jump-start on her new life out here.  Here is your chance to give Sara a personal gift of love and support from you.

Introducing Team-Sara's Homecoming Gift Card Campaign:

We ask you to think about the things YOU would like to give Sara to welcome her home. Make your contribution in the form of a Gift Card of your choice and value. A gift that expresses what we all wish for Sara; a helping hand, and a way for her to finally experience the joy of being able to choose for herself.

There is so much that is needed.  We've started a small list of suggestions but hopefully Sara's Freedom Fighters will have some more great ideas to add to the list.

For Anything & Everything
-- Visa/ Mastercard Gift cards :

--Target :

-- Ikea:
To purchase an Ikea GiftCard, please call:
Americans : 1-800-434-IKEA , your credit card number, value, and IAMSJK address for shipping.
Foreigners : + 1-888-888-4532 and give them the same info as above

--Sephora :
Foreigners call: +1 877-737-4672

-- MAC:
If outside the USA - cannot purchase :(

-- Ticketmaster:
-- Books (Amazon)
-- SoCal Amusement Parks

-- Macy’s:
If outside the USA - cannot purchase :(

-- Starbucks:

Freedom Fighters, please add to the list. Most companies will let you purchase Gift Cards online, so just as Sara's physical freedom has been obtained by supporters who have acted in total disregard for their physical distance, your helping hand can still reach her, no matter where you are.

Please include your email address when sending your gift. Sara’s team will send you a confirmation email that your donation made it and to thank you of course! All gifts and gift-givers information will be logged for Sara’s  perusal (so that she knows where to send the thank you note).

Please send your gifts from the heart to I am SJK’s mailing address:


 I am SJK ~ TeamSara
7918 El Cajon Blvd
Suite N-265
La Mesa, CA 91942

If you have any questions or ideas of your own...please feel free to email Sara’s team at: forcesforsara@gmail with GIFT CARD CAMPAIGN as your subject line.

*This is an effort being made on Sara's behalf from her team. As her friends and part of her transitional support team, we would like to ensure her a happy, healthy transition back home and welcome you to join forces with us to make it happen.

United for Sara’s Freedom & Happiness,
~ Forces For Sara

I am SJK:

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Juvenile Justice Reform

Reginald Dwayne Betts of the Campaign for Youth Justice discusses how studying brain development can help reform the juvenile justice system. Betts imparts his own experience on how difficult it is for juvenile offenders to re-enter society

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Protect the Innocent, Davonte Sanford

There seems to be some retaliation against Davonte we will keep you posted !

We call on people all over  who love Truth, Justice and equality To stand with Davonte Sanford We need to hold those accountable to protect the Innocent, Davonte Sanford

 make phone calls to the Governor of Michigan  
PHONE: (517) 373-3400
PHONE: (517) 335-7858 - Constituent Services
FAX:(517) 335-6863
Executive Office Staff List 
Governor Rick Snyder
P.O. Box 30013
Lansing, Michigan 48909
Northern Michigan Office
234 West Baraga Avenue
Marquette, MI 49855
(906) 228-2850 Washington D.C. Office
444 N. Capitol Street, Northwest
Hall of the States, Suite 411
Washington, D.C. 20001
(202) 624-5840
Other Requests
Flag Honors
Flag Request FormGov. Rick Snyder announces the appointment of Jackson County Sheriff Daniel Heyns to the post of corrections director in Lansing.
Daniel Heyns, Director
Michigan Department of Corrections
206 E. Michigan Ave.
Grandview Plaza
PO Box 30003
Lansing, MI 48909

 updates 7/9/2013
The guards broke his TV,pour water in it and broke his knobs,pour water,babypower over his clothes

Monday, 2 September 2013

Unlocking Hope: Juvenile Life Without Parole Sentences in Michigan

Despite recent rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court and Michigan courts declaring that sentencing children to mandatory life without parole is unconstitutional, 360 people still sit in Michigan prisons for crimes they committed when they were too young to drive, vote, or graduate high school.

The reason? Michigan's harsh, outdated laws need to be amended to allow judges to determine appropriate punishments on a case-by-case basis and to guarantee a fair opportunity for parole for young people serving these unforgiving sentences.

That's why we're urgently calling on legislators to push for reforms that will allow Michigan to join the global consensus that children cannot be held to the same standards of responsibility as adults.