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Michigan holds Teen on False Murder Confessions
8 years ago
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Wrongful conviction an example of corrupt system


I hope your readers took time to read about Devontae Sanford, the special-ed boy who at 14 made a false confession to four drug-related Detroit murders and received a sentence of at least 38 years in prison. Now that Timothy Smothers has confessed to the crime and said that Devontae had no connection with it, and Devontae has recanted his confession, you would think that his mother could expect him home soon. She and Kim McGinnis, the appellate lawyer, believe Devontae wanted to feel important by bragging to the police, without any real understanding of the consequences. McGinness was stunned to find that the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office insists that the guilty plea should stick despite Smothers' confession and the lack of any evidence that Devontae was involved. "They've got an emotional commitment to the result they've already obtained," stated a former Detroit prosecutor. "It's part of the culture." (It's a culture that we see in Berrien County too often.)

It's a tragic result for Devontae, as young men in prison are apt to be raped and beaten by adult prisoners. (A 16-year-old from Benton Harbor, sentenced to adult prison for stealing a TV, is now confined in isolation for his protection after suffering brain damage from a battering by three adult prisoners wielding a sock with a padlock in it.)

Devontae and his mother are not the only losers from the prosecutor's refusal to have justice done. Taxpayers will be footing the bill for at least 38 years of imprisonment which, at today's rate of $32,000 a year, will saddle us with an expense of well over $1 million. Let our public servants hear your voice. Wrongful convictions should bring no sense of job satisfaction for prosecutors with a conscience.

Joyce Gouwens
St. Joseph [from Herald Palladium, July 9, 2010]

Wrongful Convictions
8 years ago

We criticize other countries on Human Rights Issues, yet we incarcerate, torture, and murder the innocent in the name of our law.

8 years ago

Hello, Mary T.  Thanks for your comment.  They say it is in the name of law, but actually the abuses are done in the name of PRI$ON PROFIT$.  That is why the mentally ill are imprisoned at the rate of 1.25 million people.  Prison profiteering is also why America's prison population is 2.3 million people with 2/3 of them incarcerated for nonviolent offenses.  If law mattered in the United States, the DOJ would not refuse to answer my family's Freedom of Information Act request for information and documents regarding Larry Neal's secret arrest and murder in Memphis Shelby County Jail in 2003.  No government that is concerned about law and order would sanction the murder of a harmless, lifelong schizophrenic man and help murderous police cover up his death instead of demanding accountability.  Dog abuse gets more justice than the abuse and murder of mentally ill Americans of all races.  America's mentally ill are used for prison profits.  They are discriminated against by the same federal agency that is charged with seeing that institutionalized persons and Americans with disabilities are treated fairly.  What a horrible joke that is. 

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