Graterfriends ― A Publication of The Pennsylvania Prison Society ― February 2012                        A Publication of T...
Graterfriends ― A Publication of The Pennsylvania Prison Society ― February 2012                       From               ...
Graterfriends ― A Publication of The Pennsylvania Prison Society ― February 2012                                          ...
Graterfriends ― A Publication of The Pennsylvania Prison Society ― February 2012                           From           ...
Graterfriends ― A Publication of The Pennsylvania Prison Society ― February 2012                               Legislative...
Graterfriends ― A Publication of The Pennsylvania Prison Society ― February 2012                                          ...
Graterfriends ― A Publication of The Pennsylvania Prison Society ― February 2012  TEAM: TOGETHER EACH ACHIEVES MORE  Does ...
Graterfriends ― A Publication of The Pennsylvania Prison Society ― February 2012                                          ...
Graterfriends ― A Publication of The Pennsylvania Prison Society ― February 2012               GIVE SMOKING A REST        ...
Graterfriends ― A Publication of The Pennsylvania Prison Society ― February 2012                                 Think    ...
Graterfriends ― A Publication of The Pennsylvania Prison Society ― February 2012                                          ...
Graterfriends ― A Publication of The Pennsylvania Prison Society ― February 2012                                          ...
Graterfriends ― A Publication of The Pennsylvania Prison Society ― February 2012                                          ...
Graterfriends ― A Publication of The Pennsylvania Prison Society ― February 2012Wrongful Convictions, continued from page ...
February 2012 Graterfriends
February 2012 Graterfriends
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February 2012 Graterfriends


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Graterfriends is a monthly newsletter written primarily for and by prisoners in Pennsylvania. I am the managing editor and create the newsletter every month. I write the editorial on page two, and sometimes write additional news articles.

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February 2012 Graterfriends

  1. 1. Graterfriends ― A Publication of The Pennsylvania Prison Society ― February 2012 A Publication of The Pennsylvania Prison Society Promoting a humane, just and constructive correctional system and a rational approach to criminal justice since 1787  Volume 43 Issue 2 February 2012 Helping Others Affects You in Unexpected Ways by Kevin F. Johnson, #1424280, Green Rock Correctional Center (Va.) I commend the honorable Bill DiMascio on the well- Upon arriving in Virginia nearly two years ago, I con-written and thoughtful article entitled, “Lifers Find tinued to work as a teacher’s aide and law library clerkWays to Give Their Lives Meaning, Even Behind Bars. so that I could help those in need. Despite my circum-(Graterfriends, January 2012). It is an important subject stances, I refuse to turn my back on anyone who is wor-that deserves to be explored, especially with the increas- thy of my time and lifer population in this country. My message to all sisters and brothers serving life As a lifer, I have spent 25 years in prison for a murder sentences (and non-lifers): challenge yourself. Find outI did not commit. Through the years, my concentration how you can make a difference (positive change) inhas remained focused on how I can help myself and why another human being’s life. Do yourself a favor andI must terminate my incarceration. put aside your own needs and desires for a change and find out how you can help someone today. Try it. The reward? Priceless.At some point, I realized thathelping others had a positive and On a side note, I am proud to announce that my educa- tion, determination, and persistence has resulted in aimmeasurable impact on my spirit, successful appeal. Stay tuned. Meanwhile, stay focused,self-worth, and good character. stay strong, reach out to help someone today, and be sure to keep hope alive. Putting that aside, I discovered one day that I coulduse my education to teach prisoners to use computers,prepare resumes, perform certain types of research (i.e.,legal, general, etc.), write letters, and complete forms. In this Issue From the Editors, News.................................................2 This was my transformation. Our Voices ......................................................................3 Rather than focusing solely on my needs, I began con- From the “Doc”, Birthdays, Crossword Solutions.........4centrating my efforts on teaching others what I know. Legislative Highlights....................................................5 Legal Chat ...................................................................6-7 Working in the education department as a clerk andteacher’s aid enabled me to help even more prisoners. Mailroom, ....................................................................8-9Over the years, I began to notice the positive impact I Think About It, Mrs. GE-6309 Time ...........................10had made in the lives of so many individuals. After ac- Pass the Word ..............................................................11knowledging the fruits of my labor, I continued to give Literary Corner ............................................................12more and more of myself to helping others learn. Bookcase .......................................................................13 At some point, I realized that helping others had a Graterfriends Order Form ...........................................14positive and immeasurable impact on my spirit, self- Crossword.....................................................................15worth, and good character. Without question, I am quite “The Last Word” by William DiMascio .......................16proud of the legacy I have established for myself. 1 The opinions expressed are of the authors and not necessarily those of Graterfriends or The Pennsylvania Prison Society.
  2. 2. Graterfriends ― A Publication of The Pennsylvania Prison Society ― February 2012 From the Editors News As you can see, we are back to printing a 16-page news- GUARDING AGAINSTletter — and we couldn’t be happier! WRONGFUL CONVICTIONS Marissa Boyers Bluestine of the Pennsylvania Inno- by Marissa Boyers Bluestinecence Project has written an article regarding the find-ings of the Pennsylvania Advisory Committee on Wrong- Eleven people have been released from Pennsylvaniaful Convictions (to the right). We look forward to hearing prisons after DNA testing proved their innocence. Theyour thoughts about the recommendations that came out true perpetrators of only two of these crimes have beenof this committee. You may find those on page 14. found. Since 1973, there have been 273 DNA exonera- tions across the nation. In 55 percent of these cases, the We are very happy to feature some books in this issue true perpetrators of the crimes were never caught. In the(page 13), something we haven’t been able to do for some other 45 percent, the true criminals committed addi-months. We are featuring a review of Aja Beech’s Bec- tional crimes while the innocent languished behind bars.caria, an anthology of poems and essays from individuals When we convict the wrong person, all of us are harmed.affected by crime — some who are in prison and somewho have lost loved ones. The review is written by Recently, the Pennsylvania Advisory Committee onReginald S. Lewis from SCI Graterford. You may also be Wrongful Convictions issued its final report, calling forinterested in Christopher Zoukis’ new book Education major updates to Pennsylvania’s criminal justice systemBehind Bars: A Win-Win Strategy for Maximum Security. to help prevent wrongful convictions. Formed in 2006,Zoukis is currently incarcerated in Petersburg, Virginia. the committee considered various proposals to prevent wrongful convictions. The report takes an exhaustive Reesy Floyd-Thompson reminisces about her husband’s view of the problems and causes of wrongful convictions,favorite breakfast and how she and her family continue and contains recommendations drawn from best practicesto remember him even though he is not physically there already in use in law enforcement agencies across the(page 10). United States. Many of these recommendations are Finally, Sam Krakow has written a very personal story grounded in more than a quarter century of scientificof his reintegration into society in his “From the ‘Doc’” research. (See Committee Recommendations, page 14.)column (page 4). We hope that all of you can take encour- An independent report from 14 members was also re-agement from his words. Reentry isn’t easy, and can be leased, arguing that the majority report did not “reflectvery stressful, but it can be done successfully. (See Wrongful Convictions, continued on page 14) Letters more than a page in length (200 words) will not be published in their entirety in Mailroom or Legal Chat Room, and may be considered for another column. All columns should be no more than 500 words, or two double-spaced pages. To protect Graterfriends from copyright infringement, please EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: William M. DiMascio attach a letter stating, or note on your submission, that you are MANAGING EDITOR: Mindy Bogue the original author of the work submitted for publication; date and sign the declaration. FOUNDER: Joan Gauker If you have a question about Graterfriends, please contact Mindy Bogue, Communications Manager, at 215-564-6005, ext. 112 or is a monthly publication from the PennsylvaniaPrison Society. The organization was founded in 1787 andworks toward enhancing public safety by providing initiativesthat promote a just and humane criminal justice system.This issue is made possible through contributions from ourreaders and funding from Phoebus Criminal Justice Initiativethrough the Bread & Roses Community Fund. 245 North Broad Street · Suite 300We reserve the right to edit submissions. Original submissions Philadelphia, PA 19107will not be returned. We will not print anonymous letters. Telephone: 215.564.6005 · Fax: 215.564.7926Allegations of misconduct must be documented and statistics www.prisonsociety.orgshould be supported by sources. 2 The opinions expressed are of the authors and not necessarily those of Graterfriends or The Pennsylvania Prison Society.
  3. 3. Graterfriends ― A Publication of The Pennsylvania Prison Society ― February 2012 Mary’s only option is to send $10 to her son to pre-pay for two calls, but she learns that maintaining inmates’ famil- ial relationships is not a priority of the DOC. Our Voices Research confirms that: 1. Phone companies do not com- pete to offer lower phone rates to inmates’ families, but rather to provide larger kickbacks to prisons; and 2. Such commissions are not controlled by state or federal regula- tory agencies, so the only limit on the maximum rate for MOTHER MARY prison phone calls is the top rate of kickback permitted by a service contract between GTL and the DOC. by Jon E. Yount, AC-8297, SCI Greene The DOC directs families to send funds to inmates Sixty-year-old Mary, disabled and impoverished, lan- through JPay, a Florida corporation that charges an ad-guishes in Philadelphia, wishing to talk to her son. He is ditional $4.95 if contracted by phone, or $6.95 if byincarcerated in a distant Pennsylvania prison. Neither email, to deposit $10 into a prison account. Mother Mary,she nor her son read or write well enough to communi- $14.95 poorer, awaits a call from her son. However thecate through letters. Medical problems prevent her from system has not yet finished fleecing her!traveling to his prison. She can only communicate by The DOC seizes 20 percent of each entry of wages,phone. However, the DOC’s imposition of a 44.4 percent gifts, etc. into an inmate’s account as payment of court-socially regressive commission on Pennsylvania inmates’ imposed fines, costs, and restitution. Thus, upon Mary’stelephone contacts with families (Prison Legal News, $10 being transferred from JPay to her son, $2 is auto-April 2011) is a nearly impenetrable barrier for Mary. matically deducted – as well as an additional 10 percent The DOC contracts with Global Tel*Link, the tele- for payment into a $60 per offense victim compensationphone provider for prison inmates in more than half of fund. With only $7 of that $14.95 actually deposited inthe states. Mary’s son cannot call her “collect” because his prison account, Mary’s son is unable to comply withshe cannot afford a mandatory pre-paid account with the DOC’s $10 minimum purchase of pre-paid telephoneGTL for $6.25-per-minute collect calls, as GTL would time. Notably, if Mary could afford to send her son $25 tocharge her a 20 percent service fee for each $25 payment overcome such deductions, JPay charges would increaseshe would invest in such a pre-paid collect call account. to $6.95 via email or $7.95 by telephone! Her son may buy pre-paid telephone minutes ($5.15 per If you care for those like Mary, it is time for education,15-minute call) at the prison commissary, but he has lit- advocacy, coalition building, and community organizing.tle or no personal income. Because the DOC requires that Identify those family members who are most like Maryinmates purchase no less than $10 (plus $.60 sales tax) of and who are willing to serve as plaintiffs. Then help or-pre-paid telephone time, his prison account is inadequate. ganize a legal battle against this rip-off! DOES THE CONSTITUTION APPLY your constitutional rights can be totally ignored. Recently, I read an article about Troy Davis and the following was TO UNDERCLASS PEOPLE? stated: “Every day the leaders of America tout the glory of by Lorenzo Johnson, DF-1036, SCI Mahanoy the Constitution and the system while they systematically shred the Constitution and devour the poor.” That state- For 16 years, I’ve proclaimed my innocence to deaf ment couldn’t be more on point. Our Constitution is selec-ears. Every other day, I’ve witnessed new faces of injus- tive at best.tice. Shortly after my wrongful conviction, I filed a direct It took me exactly 16 years to have the necessary repre-appeal to the Pennsylvania Superior Court. One of sev- sentation and the right panel of Federal judges for myeral claims I raised was, my conviction was based on in- innocence to finally come out. I was one step away fromsufficient evidence, my appeal was denied but one of the my last Federal Appeal (Supreme Court). A panel ofpanel of three judges filed a dissent and did not agree three voted two to one that the evidence used to convictwith the majority who went with the decision my trial me was unconstitutional. Insufficient evidence is equiva-judge made. This one judge said that I was innocent and lent to a verdict of Not Guilty, barring a retrial. I washe saw no evidence that linked me to this crime. Upon immediately schedule to be released, but as usual, thereviewing the dissenting opinion, I felt that on my next prosecution argued against my release until they ex-appeal, I would include it as support to my claim in hausted their right to cross appeal (which was temporar-hopes the judges will look into the case instead of just ily granted). Keep in mind, it was ordered that I be re-cosigning what my trial judge opinion stated. Well, that leased ROR/BAIL pending their appeal. My sentencenever took place. being vacated by the highest federal court in Pennsyl- For years I sought relief through various claims of my vania, the Third Circuit, the prosecution filed for enconstitutional rights being violated. For every case I re- banc, asking for a full panel of judges to rehear my case.searched that got relief, there were 1,000 cases that were After a couple of weeks, the Third Circuit denied thedenied even when they showed the violation. Many times,cases were denied because of minor errors. So, basically (See Constitution, continued on page 12) 3 The opinions expressed are of the authors and not necessarily those of Graterfriends or The Pennsylvania Prison Society.
  4. 4. Graterfriends ― A Publication of The Pennsylvania Prison Society ― February 2012 From DEATH ROW the “Doc” by Samuel L. Krakow February BirthdaysREADJUSTING TO LIFE AFTER PRISON Shawnfatee Michael Bridges Cletus C. Rivera DQ-0272, GRA HS-2164, GRN The readjustment process following imprisonment is Kenneth T. Brown Saharris Rollinsone that involves a host of psychological conditions. Con- DQ-1006, GRN AY-8832, GRNsidering the fact that most, if not all of them, are risk David Chimel Daniel Michael Saranchakfactors for recidivism, I thought it would be an appropri- AY-5667, GRN CM-8666, GRNate topic for my column. Rather than writing dry facts, I Carmen Camato Christopher Smithdecided to write about the process from a more personal AY-2878, GRN FX-4208, GRNpoint of view — my own reintegration into society. Anthony James Dick Mark Newton Spotz I’m writing this column on the precise anniversary of my HF-2262, GRN DA-4586, GRNrelease from SCI Mahanoy seven months ago. Looking Daniel Dougherty Ralph T. Stokesback, it was a very bumpy road that started with great EK-7623, GRN AY-9034, GRNexpectations. My release brought a sense of freedom that John Eichinger Sam Thavirak GL-3402, GRN BN-6754, GRNParole is very stressful, so Francis Bauer Harris Robert Wharton DL-0556, GRN AY-6874, GRAdon’t do it alone. Seek help. Antione Ligons Connie J. Williams DX-1687, GRN EY-4783, GRNwas giddy and slightly manic as I switched from an envi-ronment of complete control to one of wildly varied choices. Bernard McGill Terrance WilliamsHowever, this sensation was tempered by realities I coul CJ-8281, GRA AY-3626, GRNnot avoid: unemployment, financial insecurity, and an im- Dennis L. Miller GRA = SCI Graterfordpending divorce. Despite the fact that I had friends and DL-1249, GRN PO Box 244family supporting me from day one, I felt overwhelmed. Ricardo Natividad Graterford, PA DL-3766, GRA 19426-0244 I realized quickly that I was like many parolees – I’man addict with the tattoo of “felon” forever imprinted on Walter J. Ogrod DC-4162, GRN GRN = SCI Greenemy permanent record. This fact made looking for a job a 175 Progress Drivenightmare, as this label closed me out from all sorts of David R. Ramtahal Waynesburg, PAprofessional pursuits. Luckily, I found the Pennsylvania HK-0148, GRN 15370-8090Prison Society and the Philly ReNew program. I quicklyembraced their “Humble and Hungry” philosophy and If you do not want your name published, send a letter todived into the economic reality of being in my situation – Graterfriends each year you do not want it to be included.any job in America today is better than unemployment. Be sure to note your date of birth. It took six months of dead ends to find employment asa valet at a local hospital. Despite my eventual success,the rejections led me perilously close to returning to CROSSWORD SOLUTIONSprison as a parole violator. I straightened out quickly.I know a few good friends now back in the DOC who Below are the solutions to crossword puzzles printed in thisweren’t as fortunate. issue and the previous issue of Graterfriends. Now I’m looking for ways to improve my situation. To- January 2012 February 2012gether with my father, I’ve started an extensive Amazon-based publishing company for medical e-books. That maynot be your line of work, but something else will be. I nevermet an inmate who didn’t have a natural talent. Use it. Itwill be your future if you can harness it appropriately. What does this personal story mean to those facingimpending release? Parole is a time of great stress. Un-employment looms large and your self-esteem can take asevere beating. Don’t do it alone. Seek out help. And onceyou establish a job, keep looking for new ways to shine.You can make it. 4 The opinions expressed are of the authors and not necessarily those of Graterfriends or The Pennsylvania Prison Society.
  5. 5. Graterfriends ― A Publication of The Pennsylvania Prison Society ― February 2012 Legislative Highlights Ann Schwartzman Policy Director, The Pennsylvania Prison Society The PA General Assembly reconvened on January 17 for the second year of the two year 2011-2012 session. Here areseveral criminal justice bills that you may find of interest. Please note that this list is current as of January 11, 2012,before the General Assembly reconvened.BILL NO. DESCRIPTION CHIEF SPONSOR PPS POSITIONPRINTER NO.HB 934 Rep. Daryl Oppose Requires everyone to show picture ID before they arePN 2166 Metcalf allowed into a voting booth. This bill may impact indi- R-Butler County viduals without driver’s licenses, including senior citi- zens, people who use public transportation, young peo- ple, and individuals just released from prison. (Passed House; passed Senate State Government Committee; now in Senate Appropriations on 12/14/11. We expect a vote on this very soon.)SB 1183 Sen. J.C. Orie Oppose Extensively revises provisions relating to registration ofPN 1821 R-Allegheny and sexual offenders, pursuant to federal mandate; makes editorial changes. (Approved by Governor Corbett Butler countiesAct III 12/20/11; is now Act 111 of 2011.)SB 1337 Sen. Greenleaf Support Establishes the Pennsylvania Commission on Convic-PN 1767 tion Integrity to investigate cases of those wrongfully R-Bucks and convicted and to help prevent future wrongful convic- Montgomery tions. (Referred to Senate Judiciary 11/10/11.) countiesSB 1338 Amends Titles 18 (Crimes and Offenses), 42 (Judiciary Sen. Greenleaf SupportPN 1768 and Judicial Procedure) and 44 (Law and Justice) of the R-Bucks and Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes. Addresses issues Montgomery leading to wrongful convictions, such as tampering with counties and preservation of biological evidence, informant testi- mony. Provides for post-conviction DNA testing and comparing with CODIS data, recording of custodial interrogations, and more. (Referred to Senate Judi- ciary 11/10/11.)SR 6 Sen. Greenleaf Support Establishes a bipartisan task force and an advisoryPN 1833 committee to conduct a study of capital punishment in R-Bucks and Pennsylvania and to report their findings and recom- Montgomery mendations. (Adopted 12/14/11, 38-12.) counties UPDATE ON PHILADELPHIA’S BAN THE BOX CAMPAIGN Ban the Box (The Philadelphia Fair Criminal Record Screening Standards Ordinance), went into effect January 13,2012. This new law prohibits employers from asking about criminal convictions on job application forms and in the firstinterview. It also prevents them from making hiring decisions based on arrests or criminal accusations that do not resultin a conviction. The ordinance impacts employers with 10 or more workers in Philadelphia (but there are a few exemp-tions). This should help formerly convicted individuals promote their skills instead of defending their past when huntingfor a job. Stay tuned for more details regarding how we are helping the City of Philadelphia implement this law. 5 The opinions expressed are of the authors and not necessarily those of Graterfriends or The Pennsylvania Prison Society.
  6. 6. Graterfriends ― A Publication of The Pennsylvania Prison Society ― February 2012 to us in JPay’s name is an illegal “conversion” of our property for delivery and deposit in our account through Legal Chat a non-consensual “bailment” process. This process is a new regulation and change in administrative agency policy governed by the Commonwealth Documents Law (42 P.S. 1201 et. seq.). ILLEGAL SPLIT SENTENCES A “conversion” is the wrongful possession or disposition of another’s property as if it were one’s own, willful inter- Here is some legal information that may assist those ference with the property inconsistent with the owner’swho have received an illegal sentence and/or illegal split right; it deprives the owner of use or possession of thesentence. I assert that this information is from my legal property [Baram v Farugia 606 F.2d 42, 43 (3d Cir 1979)files and research that I have saved, and it is about time (Blacks Law Dictionary)]. A “bailment” is the “delivery ofthat I share it with others. personal property by one person to another who holds the property for a certain purpose under con- Issues of subject matter jurisdiction cannot be waived tract” (Blacks Law Dictionary). When the DOC creates[Melograne, In re, 812 A.2d 1164 (Pa.2002)]. Appellant new rules, it must provide public notice (4S P.S. 2101),contends that his illegal sentence can never be waived, get approval by the Department of Justice (4S P.S. 1205),and may be reviewed sua sponte by the Superior Court and file the new rules via the Legislative Reference Bu-[Com. V. Archer, 533 A.D2 1051 (Pa.Super.1998)]. reau (4S P.S. 1208), or the regulation is invalid. 42 Pa.C.S.A. §9721 is the only authority available for a The JPay process concerning the money orders is ille-trial/sentencing court to impose a split sentence. The gal because it constitutes the tort of unlawful conversionPennsylvania Supreme Court holds that, with regard to of personal property through a non-consensual bailmentsentencing, 42 Pa.C.S.A. §9721 generally states that a contract, based upon an invalid administrative agencycourt may choose among various sentencing options, regulation. Research, exhaust grievance procedure, andsuch as probation, confinement, or intermediate punish- file a property tort in court. A complaint without initia-ment, unless “a mandatory sentence is otherwise pro- tive is like whistling in the wind.vided by law,” [Com v. Koskey, 812 A.2d 509, 511(Pa.2002)]. Frederick T. Ray III GF-2852, SCI Camp Hill So, any of you fellow inmates serving a sentence of pro-bation that runs consecutively to a mandatory minimumsentence should challenge it in a Post-Conviction ReliefAct (PCRA) Petition. You have an illegal split sentence. Statutory authorization for a split sentence of total DID YOU WITNESS MY ASSAULT?confinement and consecutive probation is not available tothe court because a mandatory minimum sentence has My name is Mr. Kevin Rex, and I was a prisoner at thebeen provided by law. If this happened in your case, ar- Philadelphia County Curran-Fromhold Correctional Fa-gue that the trial/sentencing court had no jurisdiction to cility on February 6, 2011. I was housed on A2-POD-4.impose probation to run consecutive to the total confine- That morning, at approximately 8:45 a.m., I was as-ment, and that the sentence imposed is illegal and saulted by a CO who is now charging me with aggra-should be vacated. (Please review the above supporting vated assault. I am asking anyone who witnessed thiscase law and statute.) incident to please come forward on my behalf by contact- ing my public defender immediately: Lindsay P. Shuler EY-9595, SCI Mercer Mr. Brian Collins Defenders Association 1441 Sansom St. Philadelphia, PA 19102 JPAY PROCESS IS ILLEGAL 267-765-6373 or 215-568-3190 In response to the letters concerning the new JPay pro- My trial date is February 6, 2012, so I need to obtaincedure (Graterfriends, September 2010 and December statements as soon as possible. Your time, assistance,2011): It’s without dispute this new process is unfair. and effort to clear me of this wrongful prosecution wouldHowever, the “unfairness” premise is unpersuasive. be truly acknowledged and gratefully appreciated!Change occurs through litigation. An objective examina-tion beyond the smoke and mirrors will manifest the ille- Thank you.gality of the JPay process concerning the money orders. Kevin Rex, #110801 It’s without dispute that money is property. Money sent Carbon County Correctional Facility 6 The opinions expressed are of the authors and not necessarily those of Graterfriends or The Pennsylvania Prison Society.
  7. 7. Graterfriends ― A Publication of The Pennsylvania Prison Society ― February 2012 TEAM: TOGETHER EACH ACHIEVES MORE Does it really matter who’s responsible for the creation REPORTER WANTS TO HEARof proposed Senate Bill 1153 (SB 1153)? The self- PRISONERS’ EXPERIENCESpromoting aggrandizement among us keeps us wallowingin our own ignorance. While wasting time and energy onattributing responsibility, we continue to ignore the fact The Guardian, a UK-based newspaper,that, while helpful, SB 1153 is merely a mirage of hope. is running a series on American prisons and the impact of incarceration on indi- In an April 24, 2011, Philadelphia Inquirer article, viduals and communities. They want toSenator Greenleaf attempted to clarify the primary pur-pose of the 60-Day Rule, i.e. the 1995 Post Conviction hear from inmates, their families, prisonRelief Act (PCRA) amendments. He said, “The primary guards, and anyone whose life has beenpurpose of the 60-day rule was to avoid frivolous appeals, impacted by the system of incarceration.which we were flooded with … The State Attorney Gen-eral requested the timetable.” Well, this is where ourproblem starts. Senator Greenleaf is a member of the If you would like to contribute to the se-legislature, while the attorney general is a member of ries, please write to the reporter’s addressthe executive branch of government. ASAP: The constitution of Pennsylvania establishes three sepa- Sadhbh Walsherate, equal, and independent branches of government: thelegislature, the executive, and the judiciary. Each branch The Guardianis granted certain exclusive rights and powers. The pre- PO Box 1466sumption of constitutionality must give way when there is New York, NY 10150any encroachment upon one co-equal branch of govern-ment by another. The complicit nature of SenatorGreenleaf and then-State Attorney General Thomas W.Corbett’s apparent concession encroaches upon the sepa-rate, distinct, independent, and “exclusive” powers of the NEW SUPPORT GROUP FORlegislative and executive branches of government. WOMEN WITH INCARCERATED The 60-Day Rule is but a miniscule part of our problem, LOVED ONES!for it is merely subsection to a subsection under the PCRA,i.e. 9545(b) (1), (2). The legislature amended the PCRA to Life Support for Women with an In-enact a one-year time limitation to collateral petitions. APCRA court is bound by the requirements of Section 9545, carcerated Loved One is a new sup-and can only entertain a petition for Post Conviction Relief port group for women looking for a safeif the petition is filed within one year of the date the judg- place to share feelings and concernsment becomes final. This renders courts incapable of per-forming their constitutionally assigned duties beyond one about incarcerated family members. Theyear of the date judgment becomes final. group meets the first Tuesday of every month, from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., at According to Section 9545, the time of accrual com- the Pennsylvania Prisonmences whether the injury is discovered or not. A defen-dant must not only scour the existing record for any is- Society: 245 N. Broad Street, 3rd Floor,sues (injuries), but also has the additional burden of rais- Philadelphia, PA 19107 (Race-Vine sta-ing any extra record claims that may exist. Many collat- tion, across from Hahnemann Hospital).eral appeals require further fact finding, extra recordinvestigation, and where necessary, an evidentiary hear-ing. A defendant must perform this herculean task For more information:within one year of the date the judgment becomes final,except as otherwise provided by statute. • Mason Barnett, 215-564-6005, ext. 106 (Prison Society) The fame seekers can have their light. We simply want • Desiree Cunningham 215-758-5877our freedom. or 215-787-2525 Sabree A. Sharrieff, (Support Group questions only) CC-3542, SCI Frackville 7 The opinions expressed are of the authors and not necessarily those of Graterfriends or The Pennsylvania Prison Society.
  8. 8. Graterfriends ― A Publication of The Pennsylvania Prison Society ― February 2012 save much money – especially when Governor Tom Cor- bett’s current state budget calls for a 52 percent decrease Mailroom in education spending and an increase of $115 million for the DOC. George (Saleem) Griffin JK-5015, SCI Retreat WHY THE HASSLE TO GET OUR MAGAZINES? There is a rapidly growing trend of initially and sys- RE: HELP FOR NON-SMOKERS IN PRISONtematically denying minority inmates their “urban” pub-lications. Examples include Straight Stuntin’, Craze, In response to Mr. Buyna’s letter in the October issueAssets, and Gorgeous, among others. It may seem like a of Graterfriends about not liking the smell of cigarettesmall matter at the moment, given what’s going on in the smoke: Out of all the things that happen in prison you“real world” and compared to other hot prison issues, but complain about something we smokers enjoy and areif we keep allowing individuals to deny us our magazine permitted to do. Smoking is very common in our society,publications without just cause, what else will they start so give it a break. For you to say we are “hopeless ad-denying us? I hate to even imagine. No! The time is now dicts” is absurd. Thanks for labeling us. Maybe weto spotlight this issue, especially at SCI Coal Township. should raise a gripe over something you like and try toThey are attempting to deter minority inmates from or- get it banned. We have a right to smoke if we want to.dering urban publications by consistently denying them You can very easily put in a request for a cellmate who isand forcing us to get their decisions overturned on appeal a non-smoker. Do so if it’s that much of a problem forfrom Camp Hill. you. There’s your solution. Maybe you could also take a look at the true nature of Graterfriends and realize it’s These publications do not contain nudity, depictions of not called Mr. Buyna and Friends. You can’t changeviolence or narcotics use. Let’s stand and unite in this other people, so focus on yourself. If you don’t like thecommon problem. smell of tobacco or cigarettes in general, then don’t Carl Hill, JR-5005 smoke and stay in your cell. Give us “hopeless addicts” Michael Peterson, GC-4660 our right to smoke, and you enjoy your glorious non- Walter Harris, GN-5486 smoking life. SCI Coal Township Russell J. Nelson JL-4723, SCI Forest Editorial note: We are checking with SCI Coal Town-ship for an answer regarding this issue. We will let youknow what we find out. SMOKING INDOORS IS A CRIMINAL OFFENSE This is a response in opposition to Mr. Erwin’s repre- NEW POLICIES DON’T SAVE MONEY hensible response found in the December issue of Grater- friends. Mr. Erwin represents a selfish and egocentric I find it both ironic and disingenuous that the first two disposition of the prison tobacco puffing addict. Fact:new policies from the new Secretary of Corrections, Mr. Smokers are rarely seen smoking outside their cells,John E. Wetzel, are an inmate meal ticket and the reduc- mostly due to other inmates seeking freebies. Fact: Sec-tion from 10 to eight free envelopes a month. All this is ondhand cigarette smoke coming in the vents 24 hours asupposedly due to the DOC budget cuts – the very same day causes non-smokers to constantly sneeze, cough,DOC that recently paid Virginia and Michigan approxi- suffer from runny noses and eyes, burning eyes, nose andmately $42 million per year to house 2,180 Pennsylvania throat, swollen sinuses, and sleep deprivation, just toprisoners. Not to mention that you don’t need to be a mention a few adverse effects. Fact: the surgeon generalcertified public accountant to figure out that the lion’s has confirmed that secondhand tobacco smoke, even inshare of the funds appropriated to the DOC goes toward small amounts, causes immediate and long-range physi-salary of the various staff members (guards, counselors, cal and psychological health problems to nonsmokerskitchen, unit mangers, secretaries, etc.). Yet when it who inhale the 3800 components and 43 carcinogenscomes down to penny pinching, it falls on the backs of (poisons) found in tobacco smoke. Fact: It is a criminalthe prison population. offense to smoke in your cell, pursuant to 35 P.S. §637.2, i.e., Clean Indoor Air Act, which carries a $250,000 fine Then, of course, there is the hypocritical aspect of these for the first offense, yet prison officials fail to even issuetwo policies: 1) the kitchen food staff actually throws misconducts to the offenders. Fact: The DOC is legallyaway food and gives the pig farmers more food than they liable for damages sustained from breathing in contami-provide to the population; 2) many men and women nated smoke-ridden air within the housing unit.throughout the DOC don’t use all or any of their 10 freeenvelopes every month. Therefore, when all is said and Jay Yunikdone, neither of these two new oppressive policies truly EK-5560, SCI Fayette 8 The opinions expressed are of the authors and not necessarily those of Graterfriends or The Pennsylvania Prison Society.
  9. 9. Graterfriends ― A Publication of The Pennsylvania Prison Society ― February 2012 GIVE SMOKING A REST pay two months up front and get someone to vouch that they’ll pay your rent if you can’t – or, according to jail I have to address the recent comments and misunder- officials, you need to have a job before leaving the jail.standings in October’s “RE: ‘Help for non-smokers inPrison.’” There was absolutely no intention to insinuate a You are entitled of course to a hearing for the technicalpersonal attack on any one person; however, the person violation they hit you with for having no approved homewho responded certainly staged a personal attack against place. But I’ve gone in front of my judge 13 times andme and the initial writer of the above mentioned article. have yet to have a proper hearing. And of course, Proba- tion refuses to ask the judge to sentence me – I’m home- None of the information in my letter was rhetoric. It less! If I get sentenced it gets appealed and kicked to thewas certainly NOT insincere or grandiloquent language state courts, and nobody wants that!directed at any individual. I have asked to be sentenced. Allegheny Court of Com- “Dear Abby” is a syndicated columnist who has an ex- mon Pleas has yet to grant that request. I have filed fortensive background in valid information on major issues. a habeus corpus hearing, but they have ignored that asMy criticizer failed to comment on the Environmental well. Numerous due process rights have been violatedProtection Agency, the American Medial Association, the over and over.American Cancer Society, and a multitude of other organi-zations that I just didn’t mention, who all agree that to- The Public Defenders office in Allegheny County isbacco, smoke or smokeless, is a cancer-causing agent. Add worthless so you best have a good lawyer and lots ofin all the fertilizers and chemicals used in the production money to get anywhere. Over half of my probation hasof cigars, cigarettes, and chewing tobaccos, and users are been spent locked in total confinement at the Alleghenyingesting POISON. I want to see anyone defend that! County Jail. Smoking is NOT a right, but an option; often a cell- I’m homeless, I’m poor, I’m old. I’d like my freedom butpartner is not an option, and a request slip is not going to it isn’t going to happen.change that. Any Class A carcinogenic is deadly to humansand animals. Most smokers who claim that they can quit Good luck.any time are in denial. They are addicted to nicotine. Sincebeing incarcerated for over 30 years, I have spoken to many Edward C. Stout– and I mean many – addicts, and they all think quitting #109087, Allegheny County Jailsmoking is harder than kicking a heroin addiction. Manyhave stated, “I wish I could quit, but I can’t.” Non-smokers do not need a “right” to protect them-selves from a poison that is being produced by willing FEDERAL PROBE WARRANTEDsmokers. I do not want a total ban on tobacco products. Ido not want a U.S. Constitutional amendment banning In a recent article in the Philadelphia Public Record,tobacco products from society, either. I would rather they State Representative Ronald Waters said that the U.S.find a way to prevent wrongful convictions. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division is opening a federal probe of Pennsylvania’s prison system. Although All I can say is quit smoking! Cigarettes cost too much, two specific prisons were identified, SCI Pittsburgh andand I know for a fact that they are not good for anyone. SCI Cresson, Rep. Waters intimated that the probe would eventually cover all the state’s prisons. Allan D. Buyna AP-8203, SCI Forest Pennsylvania is in dire need of an outside unbiased probe into the corruption and abuse toward prisoners at all the state’s prisons. Prisoners who have suffered hu- man rights abuse during their incarceration should con- KNOW THE TRUTH tact this federal agency with specific facts and documen- tation of the abuse at the hands of correctional staff. If you’re going to be returning to Allegheny County on Don’t let this opportunity pass.probation from the Pa. DOC and are in need of an accept-able home plan address for State Probation and Parole, U.S. Department of Justiceplan on spending some time at the Allegheny County Jail! Civil Rights Division The Allegheny County offices of State Probation and 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.Parole automatically tossed me into the county jail after Office of the Assistant Attorney General, Mainturning down my home plan 24 hours before I maxed out Washington, D.C. 20530in 2009 and I’ve been here in county jail ever since. Aftera year of detention they are willing to put you in ForcusHouse, where you would share a room with two others, Dale Gardnereach paying $450 a month. But to get that you need to BI-5107, SCI Albion 9 The opinions expressed are of the authors and not necessarily those of Graterfriends or The Pennsylvania Prison Society.
  10. 10. Graterfriends ― A Publication of The Pennsylvania Prison Society ― February 2012 Think Mrs. GE-6309 About It Time by Reesy Floyd-Thompson WHAT ABOUT CHANGE? APPLE PANCAKES by Zechariah Thompson, HV-3696, SCI Albion My husband loves breakfast. We often ate breakfast for dinner, pancakes, eggs, juice — a full buffet. He also loves eating breakfast at Shoneys, sometimes just the I wake up in a ghost town, among a thousand men who two of us, sometimes with my family (my two sisters,have let themselves fade, including myself. We are their husbands, their kids, Mom, me). Actually, our firstpassed by guards as nothing but a number at their dis- wedding is at Shoney’s, goofing off with the family, me,posal. There is rehabilitation, but it is not in these places complete in a napkin veil. On every trip to his favoritethat offer mostly deprivation of one’s needs and the bla- eatery, he had another one of his favorites — apple pan-tant degradation of one’s character. cakes (Ick!). I am a basic eater. I don’t like my foods to touch, nor do I mix flavors. Fruit is to be eaten as fruit, Men and women who failed in society’s clichés get not on top of, inside of, or mixed with anything else.thrown into these places. We are given rags to wear and Hand me an apple, I will eat it, put it on top of pan-miniscule wages for labor that pays well outside prison. cakes…not happening. I am a no butter, syrup only, kindWe continue to keep these prisons up to code and we get of girl; butter pecan syrup, if I’m feeling recognition for it, just a pat down search afterward.All of this brings meaning to the terms “modern slavery” Since his incarceration, my family and I have been toand “oppression.” Furthermore, we are still paying for it Shoney’s several times. Despite an empty seat at thewhen we get released. table, his place is always filled. I keep at least one pic- ture of him with me at all times. Whenever we are all together at breakfast, I take out the picture, set it up on There are attorneys, ex-attorneys, and district attor- the table, and place a plate of apple pancakes in front ofneys who have shows on television where they tell people it. We all take turns “speaking” to him.that we shouldn’t be thought about and that our criesshouldn’t be reckoned with. A lot of people on the receiv- At the end of last month’s visit, as my mom said hering end are very — very —impressionable. They will goodbyes, I overhear her telling Nivens that his plate ofprobably never have a moment where they will under- apple pancakes is waiting. It’s my job to remember hisstand that we’re not all evil and that we are buried alive! likes but for my mom to remember is akin to saying “We miss you.” In that moment, I feel as warm and gooey as those glazed, slathered apples. Well, ladies and gentlemen, we can keep thinking likethis: Writing articles in prison publications; hoping one Whenever I have my version of pancakes, I think aboutday an agency will come and sanction these prisons’ the apple version and what it represents — a time whenstructures for corruption, misconducts, etc… Or, we can we were a complete family, when I didn’t have an emptystart at the root of the problem. We can drop the cool seat beside me, when I didn’t have to speak for him,guy/tough guy complex and strengthen our noble quali- when our love was just sweet without the added bitter.ties. Let’s illuminate the creativity that lives inside usand strengthen our knowledge, so that we can gain wis- I look forward to breaking the fast of not having Nivensdom to pass on to future generations. Let’s stop trying to home. He lists a trip to Shoney’s on his upon-freedom-to-look good and sound right, and do good and be right. do list. This time a picture of him won’t be necessary be- cause Nivens will be with us and we will be complete. If we just took the time to close our mouths and open I want apple pancakes.our eyes and ears for a day, we can see and listen to thesenseless conversations and see the narrow paths thatpeople take. Once you have taken it in, you’ll then see Reesy Floyd-Thompson is the founder of Prisoners’that our lives and our generation are in trouble. Wives, Girlfriends, & Partners (PWGP). For more infor- mation about this group, please write Reesy at: It starts with us. PWGP P. O. Box 14241 It ends with us. Norfolk, VA 23518 10 The opinions expressed are of the authors and not necessarily those of Graterfriends or The Pennsylvania Prison Society.
  11. 11. Graterfriends ― A Publication of The Pennsylvania Prison Society ― February 2012 The mission can be accomplished by offering real leader- ship committees, self-help classes (such as job training, Pssst… reentry planning, parenting, communication skills, legal information, cultural studies, health and wellness, creative writing, and entrepreneurship), advanced activities, men- Pass the Word tor programs, building staff and inmate dialogue, outside guest motivational speakers, banquets, outside community feedback and involvement, and fundraising projects sup- porting the HFC and other charitable organizations. H.O.P.E. FOR C.H.A.N.G.E. This is an organization that I hope our younger brothers INMATE ORGANIZATION will join because they are our future leaders and their in- by Rodney Derrickson, CW-6633, SCI Forest volvement and ideas are needed in order to move forward. Real change takes a collective effort from all who really H.O.P.E. for C.H.A.N.G.E. (HFC) is a newly approved want to see change happen.inmate organization at SCI Forest. H.O.P.E. for Inspiration comes in many forms, and what better wayC.H.A.N.G.E. stands for: Helping Other Prisoners Evolve than to join an organization full of positive people!for Confined Humans Aspiring New Goals Endlessly. I personally wish to thank SCI Forest’s administration The HFC is geared toward promoting social awareness, for its approval and support of the organization.growth, development, and change in one’s character andoutlook on life through reentry and outreach programs, Special thanks to: Superintendent Debra K. Saunders,while improving the quality of life for SCI Forest’s popu- Deputy Superintendent for Facilities Management Ericlation and giving back to outside communities. Tice, and Deputy Secretary for Pa. DOC Randall Britton.SUPPORT REFORM FOR THE RIGHT REASONS sentative Thomas Caltigirone and Senator Stewart J. Greenleaf for their efforts to improve our system, as re- by Jeffrey Neal Saxberg, DX-5126, SCI Camp Hill ported in the Harrisburg Patriot on January 28, 2011. It’s with great dispirit that I write this article. Hungry Budgetary woes are fueling decisions hiding behind aminds are suffering malnutrition from those who sit high guise that they truly want to do the right thing. Was itupon their pedestal perches. These are the very same not our “hero” Senator Greenleaf that wrote and sup-people who, from electoral platforms, preached that the ported measures that put us in the situation we now findkey to success is education. ourselves in? Why the change of heart, Senator? Our children are failed by society and its defunct sys- An explosive situation exists behind these walls andtem. Now these children find themselves incarcerated fences. Twenty years have gone by and we have donewithin our ever growing penitentiaries, lacking the skills nothing more than report deficiencies. Why do we con-they need to succeed in life. Created and run by people tinue to turn our backs on a problem — and most impor-that have yet to understand, prison alone cannot fix tantly — our children? We are still being led by the nosewhat the people have broken. down the same paths, knowing well the outcome. When crime is reported to have decreased on ourstreets, why is Pennsylvania leading the country in incar- Sucked dry by big government, you’re getting what youcerating its citizens? It costs less to educate, yet we con- paid for. Politics has no place here. District attorneys,tinue to build prisons and incarcerate. The State Judici- unions, and our legislators tell us they know what is bestary Committee reported these same things to the public for us and how to raise our children. Am I the only onein late 1990 during its witch hunt for those responsible who sees a problem here?for the Camp Hill, Rockview, and Graterford riots. The solution is simple. Support true reform for the Our legislators have fallen short by continuing to enact right reasons. Without education, we will repeat history.laws to increase prison terms. They ignore and reject Society needs to get involved and not react to false fears.proven and innovative solutions. Judges’ hands are tied Support term limits and exercise your right to vote thoseby these laws. The reason for this is nothing more than to out of office who do not get the job done! We have nobodyadvance personal positions and create profits for the elite. to blame but ourselves. Responding to a climate of fear, our get tough approach Time to put up or suffer the consequences. Those of ushas proven to be a monumental failure. I find it ironic in here are not the only ones who need to take responsi-that Auditor General Jack Wagner praised State Repre- bility for our actions, or lack of them. 11 The opinions expressed are of the authors and not necessarily those of Graterfriends or The Pennsylvania Prison Society.
  12. 12. Graterfriends ― A Publication of The Pennsylvania Prison Society ― February 2012 PHILAGRAFIKA PRESENTS Literary DOING TIME | DEPTH OF SURFACE Corner Spanish artists María Jesús González and Patricia Gómez have created large-scale prints, photographs and related videos during their artist residency at the now decommissioned Holmesburg Prison in Northeast Philadelphia. The artists, neither of whom has exhib- THE SACRED ROSE ited previously in the United States, have a collabora- tive practice grounded in art conservation; utilizing a by Bernie Ryan, AP-6058, SCI Mahanoy modified version of a technique known as strappo, they work primarily to preserve the surfaces of buildings —There is an old Native American belief that the veritable “skin of architecture” — by detaching athe Great Spirit in its infinite wisdom blessed wall’s paint with glues and fabric and transferringMother Earth by creating colorful Roses for all that surface paint, in its entirety, to a new canvas. In occasions of the heart. This sacred flower of Philadelphia, they will work at the old Holmesburgthe plant people is said to represent: Prison before it is demolished, creating large-format “printings” of drawings, paintings, and graffiti left byWhite Rose – True Love former inmates.Red Rose – Love and PassionPurple Rose – Love at First Sight The artists prints are a physical archive of theOrange Rose – Desire prison cells — including paint, drawings and mark-Pink Rose – Friendship ings left by the inmates who lived there. The projectYellow Rose – Friendship and Joy culminated in the Depth of Surface exhibit at MooreBlack Rose – It’s Over College of Art and Design. Holmesburg prison was built in 1896 following theSome Native American Elders say that the Roses are widely replicated wheel and spoke plan designed bysoft-petaled messengers of the four winds: John Haviland for the Eastern State Penitentiary inwith the power to express deep sentiments 1829. It was in use for nearly a century, finally closingwithout the necessity of spoken words. its doors in 1995.Thorns are Nature’s Bear Claws that defend Doing Time | Depth of Surface is on exhibit froma Rose’s awesome delicate beauty; January 28 through March 17, 2012, at Moore Collegewhile it’s heavenly perfume fills the air of Art and Design. It explores urban archeology andwith reverence giving balance to both past lives of historic Holmesburg Prison and is the firstlife and death with a sweat alluring fragrance. project since the successful Philagrafika 2010: The Graphic Unconscious.For the Rose by its nature is truly a giftand blessing to two-leggeds on the For more information, visitGreat Medicine Wheel of life all occasions of the heart. Aho! gonzalez.htmlConstitution, continued from page 3 Evidence). The prosecution expressed its intentions to seek review by the U.S. Supreme Court of the Third Cir-prosecution’s appeal and issued their mandate with in- cuit’s decision. Now they are asking that I be detainedstructions to the Middle District Federal Court to issue until the outcome. There is nothing left for this court tothe writ. The same day, my legal team petitioned the decide, other than if it wants to impose conditions for myMiddle District Federal Court for my immediate release release that I volunteered to subject myself to. The U.S.on ROR/BAIL. In turn, the middle district court gave the Supreme Court grants review in one percent of the 8,000prosecution two weeks to reply. As predicted, the prose- cases presented each year.cution waited to the last day to file. A stall tactic tostretch out my unconstitutional detention. The prosecu- Despite the prosecution’s unsubstantiated allegationstion stated I was a danger to society and a flight risk. of flight and concern for public safety, this court could fixThis assertion is without basis. I have been judged inno- bail conditions addressing them. Close monitoring by thecenct, if anybody was a flight risk it was the prosecution. U.S. Marshal Service, up to and including electronicUnder these circumstances, the court has no basis to monitoring, can certainly account for the prosecution’swithhold its grant of the writ. concerns. I state all of the above to say, if I’m entitled to Under the Federal Rules and Procedures, I fall under relief under the Constitution, why when I fall in thatUnconditional Release (Unconstitutional Insufficient category does it not apply to me automatically? 12 The opinions expressed are of the authors and not necessarily those of Graterfriends or The Pennsylvania Prison Society.
  13. 13. Graterfriends ― A Publication of The Pennsylvania Prison Society ― February 2012 Prolific artist Elizabeth Johnson contributes a beauti- ful image of an angel, which compliments her poem enti- Bookcase tled “Cora.” The angel, bathed in a beautiful glow, peers down, wings aflutter, her soft hand outstretched — “…as it snatched her daily hope from the ruins… …across the ragged edges of the rooftops- flying… flying… BECCARIA: A CHAPBOOK ANTHOLOGY flying away.” BY AJA BEECH Seven-year-old Devon Williams poses in his astronaut A LABOR OF LOVE AND LIFE suit. How could he have known that he’d now be orbiting in his own space — just be- Review by Reginald S. Lewis, AY-2902, SCI Graterford neath the Seventh Heaven? Poet Delbert Tibbs, a Death Row exoneree whose heart- The first image you notice is the half facial features of breaking story was featuredan attractive young woman with smooth, soft, flawless in “The Exonerated” alsoskin, a cute little button nose, full, luscious pink lips, and makes an appearance here.stylish, flaming red hair. Against an aqua blue back In a prose poem that flowsdrop, a sparkling blue eye stares out hauntingly. Flip with musical assonance ofover the front cover to the back and see dollops of bright surrealistic jazz, in “I Need a Poem” his pen croons: “Forred and gold paint from the intricate patterns that com- the sick and the lame and the maimed in mind, for theplete the outlines of the hair, brow, nose, cheeks, mouth blind with eyes, for the deaf with ears, a poem of peace inand chin. Two images (the first of Dierdre Johnson, mur- war years.”dered by her fiancé; the second a painting of formerdeath row inmate Marilyn Dobrolenski by Mary DeWitt)join at the book’s seam. And though we thank the Leeway Foundation for pro- viding the author with a small grant that made this an- In Beccaria, a chapbook anthology, poet/artist/activist thology possible, budget constraints prevented Ms. BeechAja Beech brilliantly assembles a talented cast of death from reaching out to far more readers than she desired.row exonerees, family members of murder victims, death Perhaps a generous patron of the arts is willing to donaterow inmates, and poets that recount stories of beauty, money, or a fund drive can be launched to make it possi-tragedy, loss, love, and innocence lost. We can hear their ble for more copies of Beccaria to be printed and distrib-voices — both near and far, far away. Children live and uted to schools, libraries, universities, teachers, and at-breathe in immortality. The grief of doting grandmothers risk youth. After all, we don’t have to wonder what otherflies up from these pages and seeps into every crevice of powerful works of beauty Aja Beech could bless the uni-your being. verse with. In her beautiful essay, Jan Williams writes: “The griefof losing my boys isn’t something that I will ever ‘get Aja Beech is a poet and board member of Pennsylvani-over.’ I will always miss them and mourn the milestones ans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. Beccaria wasthat I will never get to share… How do I put myself back made possible by a Leeway Foundation Art and Changetogether and figure out what to do next?” Grant, Education Behind Bars: A Win-Win Strategy for Maximum Security by Christopher Zoukis is the latest resource in the field of prison education. Over 500 pages, it is the most comprehensive title on the market. At $19.95, it is also the least expensive. To order, go to major online retailers like or, or write to: Sunbury Press 2200 Market Street Camp Hill, PA 17011 13 The opinions expressed are of the authors and not necessarily those of Graterfriends or The Pennsylvania Prison Society.
  14. 14. Graterfriends ― A Publication of The Pennsylvania Prison Society ― February 2012Wrongful Convictions, continued from page 2 RECOMMENDATIONS FROMtrue science” and cast aspersions on law enforcement. THE PENNSYLVANIA ADVISORYThe independent committee acknowledged that adjust- COMMITTEE ON WRONGFUL CONVICTIONSments and improvements can be made to benefit all citi-zens, but does not see the need for systemic changes tothe criminal justice system. • A law requiring lineups and photo arrays to be conducted by someone who does not know who Many states, localities, and law enforcement agencies investigators suspectare adopting the proposed changes in the majority re-port. Across the country, eyewitness identification proce- • A law requiring the electronic recording of policedures are evolving in order to fairly prosecute the guilty interrogations and confessionsand not implicate the innocent. • State, rather than county, funding of defense services State Senator Stewart Greenleaf recently introduced for the indigent, with adequate compensation fortwo bills to implement the committee’s proposals. Senate attorneysBill 1338 would create a Committee on Conviction Integ-rity. This committee would look at any proven exonera- • Electronic recording of statements made to law en-tion case to determine what factors led to the wrongful forcement by informantsconviction, and if changes to Pennsylvania’s criminaljustice system could prevent future injustices. • Requirement of a hearing in capital cases before admitting testimony from an informant that is The other bill, Senate Bill 1337, calls for needed improve-ments to methods used by law enforcement. Many of these Incriminated by the accusedimprovements mirror those in the report from the Pennsyl- • Extension of the length of time to petition for post-vania Advisory Committee on Wrongful Convictions. conviction relief (the “60 Day Rule”) to one year When an innocent person is convicted of a crime he didnot commit, we are all affected: the wrongfully convicted • A law requiring the accreditation of forensic labora-individual usually spends years in prison, the victim gets tories used in evidence collectionno closure, and the public must deal with other criminalacts from a true perpetrator who escaped justice. • A statutorily created forensic advisory board Convicting innocent people is not a new phenomenon in • A law requiring the state to pay damages to thoseour society, but with efforts like these, it need not be a wrongfully imprisonedpermanent reality. • A statute enabling automatic expungement of the criminal history record for those found eligibleMarissa Boyers Bluestine is the Legal Director of thePennsylvania Innocence Project.SUBSCRIPTION INFORMATION Support our mission and become a member!Receive Graterfriends and Correctional Forum for: Make a check or money order payable to$5 Prisoner $200 Patron The Pennsylvania Prison Society$10 Prisoner Family $250 Sponsor 245 North Broad Street, Suite 300 Student $500 Founder Philadelphia, PA 19107$40 Regular Membership $1,000 1787 Society$100 Friend of the Society Prisoners may pay with unused postage stamps.Are you a prisoner who just wants Graterfriends? You maysubscribe just to Graterfriends for $3.Name _________________________________________ Prisoner Number_______________ Institution _________________________________Address ______________________________________________ City _______________________________ State _______ Zip ________________Payment Amount _____________________________________ Payment Method _____________________________________________________ NEW SUBSCRIBERS: Please allow 6-8 weeks for receipt of your first issue. 14 The opinions expressed are of the authors and not necessarily those of Graterfriends or The Pennsylvania Prison Society.