My Personal Thoughts
I do a lot of thinking & writing, sitting here on death row.
I've asked my friend to put these on my web site.
If nothing else, I hope they cause you to do some thinking, too.
Executed On A Technicality by Professor David Dow and The Social Psychology Of False Confessions by Saul M. Kassin and Katherine L. Kiechel
Ask yourself a question, if you would. When you hear that someone has confessed to a crime, then they take their confession back and claim that they are innocent, what is the first thing that comes to your mind?
Is it that he/she is guilty? I’m willing to bet that 8 out of every 10 people that are asked this question answered that way. But, why is this? Is it because you do not wish to take the time to see if there are other circumstances that might dictate he confessed? Or is it because you just do not care?…
Because so many have the mind-set that if a person confesses, they are guilty. Innocent people are not just in prison doing time for a crime they did not do, but are being murdered as well. At least 123 people have been released from prison due to actual innocence, and many of those individuals confessed to the crimes.
In New Jersey, a man confessed to kidnapping an 8-year-old girl, only to later be released, after DNA and fingerprints analysis proved that it was another man. When asked why he confessed, his answer was “"I don’t know."… and neither do we. What we DO know, without a doubt, is that people for various reasons do confess to crimes that they did not commit. In the following I hope to show some of those reasons, and also give an example.
In 1989, the “Central Park Jogger” case became famous for the brutality of the crime that 5 kids all under the age of 17 committed. They were charged and convicted of the brutal rape and murder of a young white investment banker. And they all confessed on video tape. Here is parts of their interview:
(14 year-old Raymond Santana)
Questioner: "When you went into the park that night, why did you go into the park?"
Raymond Santana: "Cause I thought we were going to beat people up, take bikes and get money."
Questioner: "You went into the park to beat people up, to take bikes, and..."
Raymond Santana: "Rob people and get money."
(Here is what 16-year-old Kharey Wise had to say about the crime.)
Kharey Wise: "Oh man, blood was scattered all over the place. I couldn't look at it no more. Like I said, I did it not just to prove myself because I don't prove myself for nobody. I just did it because we went to the park."
Questioner: "To do what?"
Kharey Wise: "For trouble. We went to the park for trouble and got trouble, a lot of trouble. That's what they wanted and I guess that's what I wanted. When I was doing it, that's what I wanted too. I can't apologize because it's too late. Now we got to pay for what we did."
And that's exactly what they did. They paid for being young, they paid for being scared, confused, manipulated, tired. They paid with years of their life that can never be replaced. In this case there were two crimes committed. The crime of murder and the crime of making innocent children serve time for a crime they never committed. The system failed these children. Antron McCray, who was only 16 at the time, had this to say on tape after 22 hours of questions:
Questioner: "What happened when she came closer?"
Antron McCray: "That's when we all charged her."
Questioner: "Did you charge her?"
Antron McCray: "Mm-hmm."
Questioner: "And who else charged her?"
Antron McCray: "Everybody. Everybody that was there."
Questioner: "What happened when you charged her?"
Antron McCray: "We charged her. She was on the ground. Everybody stomping and everything."
Antron McCray, who had an I.Q. of 87, served 6 years; Kevin Richardson, then 14, served 6 years and 6 months in prison; Yusef Salaam, then 15, also served 6 and a half years; Kharey Wise, the only one who was charged as an adult, spent 11 and a half years in prison and Raymond Santana served 8 years in prison. Everyone, including these five, thought that was the end of it, until Mathias Reyes, a convicted murderer and serial rapist, confessed. He says, he and he alone raped and beat the victim. Here he is in an interview with ABC News correspondent Cynthia McFadden:
Cynthia McFadden: "Did you do it alone?"
Mathias Reyes: "Mm-hmm, absolutely."
Cynthia McFadden: "Did you rape her?"
Mathias Reyes: "Yes."
Cynthia McFadden: "Did you beat her?"
Mathias Reyes: "Mm-hmm."
Cynthia McFadden: "Did you leave her for dead?"
Mathias Reyes: I thought I left her for dead."
Reyes's DNA matched that found on the jogger's clothing. Besides for this, after the the D.A. re-opened the case, he found troubling discrepancies in the video- taped confessions.
Kevin Richardson said in his taped confession that the victim screamed "help" and "stop" a lot, and that nobody gagged her. He also said that nobody tied up her hands. However, the record shows that when the jogger was found, here hands were bound and the was gagged with her own t-shirt.
Studies show that when a person confesses to a crime, they actually feel that they will be allowed to go home if they do so. But why is that? Since childhood you are taught that if you did not do anything wrong there is nothing you have to worry about. Many confess with the belief that since they did not do it, the proof will show this and they will go home.
Barry Scheck, in an interview in 2002, said that there are 122 post- conviction exonerations revolving around DNA, and in 35 of those cases there were false confessions. That's 35 people out of 122 who were innocent of the crime, but confessed to it anyway! Yet, people still choose to believe automatically that when someone confesses, they are guilty...
To further prove that false confessions occur, here are some facts taken from a research article by Saul M. Kassin and Katherine L. Kiechel, entitled The Social Psychology Of False Confessions.
In this article, the authors speak of a psychological experiment involving students working in pairs supervised by a teacher. One student of every pair sat in front of a computer while their partner called out letters for them to type. At the beginning of the experiment, the teacher warned the students NOT to press the ALT key, because doing so would cause the program to crash and data to be lost. What the students did not know was that some of the computers had been manipulated in a way that they would crash after 60 seconds WITHOUT anyone even getting near the ALT key. The teacher, who had previously been instructed to accuse students of not following his instructions, would reprimand the typing student of a pair. When he/she professed their innocence, the teacher would sometimes turn to the partner and ask if he/she had seen anything. On occasion, pre-arranged, some of them would admit seeing their partner push the ALT key. For those students who had their partner claim they had seen them doing it, the teacher wrote out a confession that said "I hit the ALT key and caused the program to crash. Data was lost." The "guilty" students then were asked to sign the confession, the consequence of which would be a phone call from the principal investigator. If the student refused, the request was asked a second time.
When the teacher and the subject of this experiment left the room to go to his office, they were met by another student who had yet to go through this experiment. When the teacher went inside his office he left the two outside to talk. Their conversation was secretly recorded. The new student asked the one who had come with the teacher "What happened?". And the subject responded "I hit the wrong button and ruined the program." In some of the experiments the student was heard to say "I hit a button I wasn't supposed to." Even though no one hit a wrong button, they just "confessed" to it. Had this been a murder, they would find themselves getting arrested and sentenced...
In their recorded conversations in front of the teacher's office 96% out of 79 students "confessed" they had touched the wrong button although none of them actually had. After this phase of the experiment, the teacher would bring the accused subjects back to the computer and asked them if they could reconstruct how or when they hit the ALT key. Many said "Yes, here, I hit it with the side of my hand right after the "a" was called out." In this part of the experiment, all 79 students were able to show the teacher where they had pushed the ALT key. Once again, none of them had.
Overall, 69% of the students signed a confession. None of these students had pushed the button, so why did they confess? The teacher specifically used certain techniques used by the police when interviewing witnesses to see the effects they had. As we can see, the effects are false confessions. The teacher studied the manual the police use to train their detectives and used exactly the same techniques that they use.
Now imagine how many people sit behind bars because of these techniques. Some of these wrongly accused "confessors" have been murdered, others are awaiting death. Yet many people are still content with believing that because someone confessed, they are guilty... What a humane society we live in!
Let me give you yet another example: In Texas, in the case of Cesar Fierro, his parents lived in Mexico, but he was in El Paso. Cesar was suspect in a murder, he would not confess, so his parents were dragged to the police station in Mexcio, where they were beaten and tortured. Cesar was put on the phone and "allowed" to listen to his mother's cries of agony and pain, as they hit her with clubs, kicked her with steel-capped boots... Even worse, his father had a chacharra, a device similar to an electric cattle prod, placed on his genitals, while his son was made to listen to his screams. Cesar ended up confessing because he wanted his parents' agony to stop. Now he is on Texas Death Row and has lost his mind. I, personally, have been his cell neighbor, and listened to him mumble to himself, howl at the moon, scream, spit, cry, kick the door, wall, etc. He does not understand what people are trying to tell him, he cannot hold a conversation. The system has not only failed this man, it has ruined him...
I could go on forever about false confessions, site research and cases, to help prove my message, but the bottom line is, are YOU willing to believe? If you are closed to the subject, no amount of proof will change your mind. You must be willing to open your eyes and realize that our system is broken, and in some places, like the death penalty, beyond repair. Are you open??
I was falsely accused and sentenced for murder. The police beat, choked and pistol- whipped a confession out of me. But I do not ask anyone to simply believe my words, rather the FACTS that surround my case. They speak for themselves. Once a person is able to see through the propaganda, the truth is as bright and clear as the sun. So, put on your shades and join the fight, join a cause that will make a difference, that will save a life.
My name is Michael Perry, I am 24 and I have been locked up in a cage since I was 19... I do not wish to die. Will you help??
Michael James Perry #999444
Inhumanity in a Humane Society
By Michael Perry
What else is there to do? What else can "we" say? What is it going to take for "us" to project what is going on in Texas? Is there anything "we" can do? Is there anything "we" can say? Do "we" waste our words, so in turn, your time? Regardless, I continue the fight. "We" continue the fight for justice...that wonderful word that all Americans are entitled to. That word that separates this country from so may others. That word "we" (in here) can only dream about. When referring to Justice you will see that I refer to it as a word, rather than a thing or action. This is because until I see true Justice being done, I can only speak about it.
Who is "we" you may ask. "We" are the many incarcerated falsely. The many that face execution as a result of overzealous prosecution, and at the hands of the state, for a crime they never committed. This is who "we" are...the innocent.
I have sat at this concrete desk on countless occasions with pen in hand and legal papers spread out all over my tiny 7 x 10 cage, doing exactly what I am doing now...as have many others imprisoned here. The difference, this time, is I am finished speaking with big words or legal terms. I am done speaking in that language that, at times, baffles even the smartest of people. I know it has had me scratching my head on several occasions. I am here now trying to speak in the universal language, the language of humanity.
Let me define this great word:
Humanity: the quality or state of being human or humane; the branches of learning, dealing with human concerns (as philosophy), as opposed to natural processes (as in physics).
Humane: marked by compassion, sympathy, or consideration for others.
So, now what am I talking about? How does this apply? Many in Texas and across the world take the attitude that since it does not directly concern them, why get involved? With this attitude comes different definitions. Inhumanity - the quality or state of being cruel or barbarous; a cruel or barbarous act. Inhumane: not humane, inhuman. In theory, to not get involved is not to care and that falls close to the definition of inhumanity! Something to think about...
Yes, I will probably offend some people with this article. Some might even get angry. Good! At least I will be getting some response! You tell me, who should be more angry? You or the innocent man or woman that has been taken from their family? Someone who has basically had their lives taken from them, been locked in this tiny cage, treated like an animal. Then years later, strapped to a gurney and shoved full of chemicals that have been found to be cruel to give an animal!
Now, don't get me wrong. In no way do I feel that all or even a big percentage of Death Row prisoners are innocent. I have been here 31 months and I might have met 3 people I feel are actually innocent. I've met many who probably do belong behind bars and some will tell you so. But NONE belong here. The Ultimate Punishment, death, is for God and God alone to hand out. I know that the "powers that be" in Texas sometimes confuse themselves with God, but that does not make it right. They, too, will be judged someday. Believe that...
Isn't one person executed, later found out to be innocent, too many? How many will it take to get YOU involved? Do I have to be "murdered" first? Isn't that what you call the taking of an innocent life? It has been PROVEN that they have executed innocent people, yet it continues to be accepted. Brian Roberts says it best when he says, "The death penalty in America is not merely flawed. It is broken and beyond repair. For every eight people that have been executed in the U.S. during the past three decades, one person has been found to be ACTUALLY INNOCENT. The 112 people found to be actually innocent were not released due to what some might call a legal technicality - flawed jury instruction, for example - but because THEY ACTUALLY DID NOT DO THE CRIME!"
People tend to forget, Jesus was an Innocent man on Death row and was executed.
These are quotes and information from Brian Roberts, the Executive Director of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. He states that ten people were freed from death row, due to "actual innocence" in 2003.
So, is it possible to be an innocent on death row? Yes, of course! I AM!!!
To get back on track, I am strictly speaking about the innocent people here on death row. Some will tell you this cannot happen, but it is not only possible, it has and is happening. How? That should be the question people are asking. And what can we do to stop it? Well...
When you have a county where the entire crime lab is shut down due to faulty evidence, and other counties where the sheriff is under investigation for covering up a rape that one of his lieutenants was reportedly involved in, it is easy to believe. It is even easier to believe when you have prosecutors themselves coming out in public and admitting they lied and put up false evidence to get a conviction. How could you not believe there are innocent people on death row? Then you sit back and say, "Hey, that's what the appeals process is for - right?" Do you even know about the appeals process? Here are some quotes you may find interesting...
The Court of Criminal Appeals (CCA), headed by Chief Justice of Executions Sharon Kellar, was asked in the filming of a controversial debate, how could a person prove their innocence in her court? This question came after her court refused to accept the result of a DNA test which conclusively proved a defendant's innocence. Her response? "I don't know." If she doesn't know, who does? How about this quote from Chuck Rosenthal, District Attorney for Harris County, after the closing of the crime lab. "There has been no Harris County cases where a defendant has been executed and there was possible faulty evidence." Isn't shutting down your entire crime lab an admittance of faulty evidence?
This is the most important quote I want to bring to your attention. This highlights everything we have been trying to get across to the public. "Let's say you have a video tape which conclusively shows the suspect is innocent. Is it a Federal Constitutional Violation to execute this person?" United States Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy asked Texas Assistant Attorney General Margaret Griffey, as she argued the case of Texas Death Row inmate Leonell Herrera, shortly before he was executed. "NO! It would not be violative of the Constitution," she sternly replied.
How then, may I ask, can we expect justice? If the Chief Justice of Executions in the CCA states that she doesn't know how one can prove their innocence, and a Texas Assistant Attorney General states that even if a crime was caught on tape, and the tape shows a man did not do it, they can still execute that man, does that make any sense to anyone?
If we life in a society that can allow the murder of innocent people, then how can we expect any type of justice? How can we call ourselves a Humane Society? I am an innocent man on death row. I do not belong here. And because people judge me for where I am, because politics - and not justice - runs the system, I might lose my life.
This is my petition for help, for support, for a friend. I am no monster, like the court would have you believe. I am a poet, an artist, a loving and caring son to some amazing people I'm blessed to call Mom and Dad. I invite you into our lives, our world. There is nothing I will not disclose. I have no fear of the truth. You may ask me anything and I will make all documents available. I will refer you to other cases that I feel are under this Actual Innocence claim., You may talk to my attorneys, my parents, my friends, and other supporters. I am as normal as you are. I only differ in the fact that I live in fear that you, the public, might not support me in my fight for True Justice. I am asking to live...is that so much to have a wrong made right?
I ask that you put yourself in my shoes for a moment. If you do nothing else, do this. Picture yourself as an innocent man, sitting inside a cold, lonely 7 x 10 cage. Guards constantly harass and taunt you, being forced to eat food not suitable for your pets. Picture yourself here, what would you do? How would you feel? Especially when you know you are innocent? Your friends and family know you're innocent. You can even prove that you are innocent, but the courts tell you that innocence has"no place in the appeals process" and they send you down the line...
This is my CRY FOR HELP! I don't want to die. I'm only 23 years old, locked up since I was 19. My life has been taken away from me, stolen, ruined! Help me save my life...reach out a hand.
My name is Michael James Perry. I am a 23 year old loving, caring son of God. I am innocent on Death Row.
Will you help me?
In heart and struggle, I remain
Michael James Perry #999444
"It is better for a leader to make a mistake in forgiving than to make a mistake in punishing" (Al-Trimidhi, Hadith 1011)
If you had a chance to save someone from being murdered, to what extent would you go, to help save that person? And if a man was condemned for a crime which he did not commit, would you still want to stop his murder? Is there a difference?? How can we call ourselves a humane society, when we so easily turn our backs when the innocent are murdered? Can you sleep easily at night, with the knowledge that another human being is being "murdered"? And possibly for a crime they did not commit?? And if you can, what does that say about a person's morales??... With this, comes a question... if I may... How do you stand on the "Death Penalty"? And, what knowledge of it, did you bring to the table, in order to make a decision? For sadly I find that many today, "judge a book by its cover", so to speak, and don't take the time or effort, to see the truth of the situation... And considering how black and white it has become, this is disturbing...
I would like to take some time to explain what I am speaking of, so that you may have a better understanding of the situation... Unfortunately, I am very new to this, and am not the best when it comes to expressing myself, so please bear with me...
There are many out there, I feel, that are unaware of that is really going on, and therefore are "unenlightened" to what the death penalty is really about. They see our fight as a last chance to save our lives and nothing more... Sadly, some might even believe some [people on death row are] actually innocent, but "bad" people anyway, so good riddance... But should one be "MURDERED" for a false image, created through propaganda?? And even those that profess to be against the death-penalty, are more often than not confused as to what exactly they can do for a person in our situation, sitting on death row, trying to find "justice" in a system where the odds are already stacked against us.
However, this is for all of those people out there that are unaware to the injustice that has crept its way into our system...
Texas alone executed 24 people in 2003. A small number when looked at alone. But what some don't realize, is that that represents almost 40% of all the executions in the U.S.! In Texas alone!? In 2003, we also saw more corruption in the use of the Death Penalty, than ever before, and the revelations of corruption only continue... to stack up.
In January of 2003, "Governor Ryan" exonerated 4 people from Illinois Death Row, after discovering evidence that led him to believe that they were "beat" into giving confessions. Beat and tortured by the same people paid to protect and serve. The Police....! He commuted 167 death sentences to life! On January 11th, 2003, he stated: "The facts I have seen in reviewing each and every one of these cases raised questions. Not only about the innocence of people on Death Row, but about the fairness of the death penalty as a whole. The legislature couldn't reform it, I must act. Our capital system is haunted by the demon of error, error in determining who among the guilty deserves to die. Because of all these reasons today, I am commuting the sentences of all death row inmates..."
This is part of a speech made by a U.S. Governor who recognized the severe faults in the system, and took the bold step to do something about it. If only people of Power in Texas were as bold...
Yet, this isn't even the beginning... On March 12th, 2003, Delma Banks, was given a "stay" 10 minutes before he was to be executed. Evidence has come about that 2 key witnesses lied at his trial. One was promised that previous drug charges would be dropped, if he would testify to what the D.A. wished?! The other was paid to lie at Banks' trial!? But, do you truly understand how serious this really is?? They found that the D.A.'s office KNEW about this... They in fact set this up?! The prosecutor has come clean in admitting his faults... Banks now has the support of former FBI Director William Sessions, ex Judges, and prosecutors, yet the "STATE of Texas" refuses to admit fault, and continues to try and MURDER this man?? Law dictates he be given a new trial, or released, yet Texas once again refuses...? I can only imagine how the Attorney General, the highest seat of Law in a state, can continue to pursue this, when his own prosecutor admits fault?? We can only pray for Mr. Banks, and hope that Justice wins in his case...
The list goes on... You would think, that in a state that has been severely criticized for providing ineffective counsel to its defendants, that they would learn, and move to fix the problem. You would hope... Not in Texas... Once again, there arises a case there a attorney fell asleep while in hearing?? On August 15th, George McForland had a evidentory hearing, where it was proven that his attorney did nothing, while waiting for the other-one to wake-up!? These are the attorneys "appointed" to defend us? And we are expected to prove our innocence, with a sleeping attorney?
What's even more disturbing, is the fact that after one inmate won a new trial, and eventually a life sentence, because of the fact that his attorney fell asleep, the Attorney Generals office challenged this? So what exactly is the state of Texas trying to say, that it's OK for our attorneys to fall asleep?...Justice...?
Then on September 26th, Howard Guidry was given a new trial order, after it was proven that detectives in his case refused to let him speak to his attorney...(So much for "rights"). Not only did the detectives refuse him his right, they lied to him... After hearing him repeatedly request for an attorney, they left and when they returned, they told him his attorney called and said for him to talk to the detectives!? And once again the Attorney General's office is fighting this ruling?? So, are they saying it's ok to lie to us, and refuse us our rights??... America... home of the free?? So we once believed.
Then there is the case where Walter Bell, who is mentally retarded, was completely manipulated. When Mr. Bell first went to trial, the D.A. office used the fact that he was mentally retarded to secure a death sentence... But now that it has been made unconstitutional to execute someone who is mentally retarded, they have changed their story, and now say that he is not retarded?? These are the people who have been elected to uphold "truths"?... Justice...?
Then comes some extremely disturbing news... According to Brian Roberts, Executive Director of the NCADP, 10 people were released in 2003 due to actual innocence... This fact alone should prove that there are some major problems and flaws in our system. Yet the murders continue... "The death penalty in America is not merely flawed, it is broken and beyond repair," says Brian. "For every eight people that have been executed in the U.S. during the past three decades, one person has been found actually innocent. The 112 people found to be innocent were not released due to what some might call a legal technicality- flawed jury instruction, for example-but because they actually did not do the crime."
Another fact that I have found disturbing, is that many people don't even realize what can get you on Death Row... if asked, most will say murder.. But Texas is one of the few states that MURDERS its prisoners under what is called the "Law of Parties." Under this, knowledge alone can put you here with me, on Death Row... In my case, my co-defendant, Jason Aaron Burkett, was convicted of killing 3 people, yet he is in population, and I am to be murdered??...
Then, there's Arroyo vs. State, in his case, he asked some neighborhood thieves to look out for a part of his car... A month or so later, they found it... But killed someone to get it... Yet, Arroyo sits on Death Row, and the people who killed a man, sit in population??... Justice...?
So those who believe in, "Eye for an Eye..." I ask what about those of us that were simply at the wrong place at the wrong time? And, got brought down under Texas Law of Parties?... And if we were to follow Eye for an Eye, how many today would be free or alive? After all that was done in the "Slave Years"... Eye for an Eye? Or only when it benefits those in power?...
To be continued...
A "Higher Law"
Through this past year, I have learned a man can have knowledge and the world at his fingertips, but if he has no morals, he will only self-destruct. If he has no love, he will only wither away. If he has no desire or purpose, he will only make excuses for his failings...
I have recently read the Life of Martin Luther King, Jr. to give myself a full range of knowledge. While reading, I realized that the heart of our problems are the problems of our hearts. Martin Luther King, Jr. once proclaimed, "I have seen too much hate to want to hate." As I sit back and reflect on this, from my tiny "cage" on Texas Death Row, I have to agree...
There's a higher law - a law of love - on the other side of the law. How others see us is never the true depiction of us, but it is how we see others...
When I think of Tookie Williams, the original founder of the notorious gang "The Crips," being nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for his writings of childrens books from a California Death Row cell...or Sonny Ray Jeffries, scribbling poems, shedding light and creativity from a Florida death row cell...I understand the Higher Law of love. Higher than the Laws of the State...
I often compare Death Row to falling deep into the ocean, then rising slowly to the surface, to tell the story of how you almost drowned. Instead, you tell a story of all the hidden treasure you found that no one knew was down there.
Like Dr. King, I have seen too much hate to want to hate. I've seen too many give up on me to want to give up on others. And I have seen and been through too much pain in my life to want to see others in pain...
I was talking to someone I consider my "mentor" the other day. And he told me a story of the Higher Law that affected me. He told me that after he was found guilty, after he was labled a "cold-blooded killer," and defamed by the media, he was led back to his "cage," where he dropped to his knees, and slowly flooded the cell with his tears...
The guard, seeing this, went and got his family, breaking ALL rules, and probably a couple of "laws," let his family in the cell to have one last visit. My friend told me that he will never forget about that guard, allowing him that precious last visit. And I will never forget the story.
There will always be the "Higher Law" of Love higher than the Laws of State. I have lived by that "higher love" on the other side of the law, where mercy triumphs over judgement...
The state judges us, believing judgement is greater than mercy. When in reality, judgement isn't theirs to hand out. The death penalty needs to be abolished. NO SUBSTITUTES. But if, regardless of my innocence, I am to be executed, I am ready, if it will help others today, change what others of the past, have put in place. If I don't humble myself, my life is in vain, and over already. There's nothing worse for a man's heart than living in vain or dying in vain. But, if we love today, we will never hate tomorrow...
I have seen too much hate, to want to hate...
And not enough love, to want to love...
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