Saturday, June 13, 2015

2015 Center for Prosecutor Integrity Summit in Arlington Virginia

Yesterday I traveled to Arlington, VA to attend the first day of the two day Summit held by the Center for Prosecutor Integrity. Last year I attended the second day of the 2014 summit. 

I attended yesterday’s conference for one specific reason to meet and attend Tonya Craft's presentation. 

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Tonya Craft here are some old articles:
·       Tonya Craft's Alleged Victim Reports How She Remembered Abuse: 'My Momma Told Me' April 15, 2010
·       Tonya Craft, Former Georgia Teacher, Acquitted of Molestation Charges May 12, 2010
·       Tonya Craft, Kindergarten Teacher, Not Guilty on 22 Molestation Charges May 12, 2010
·       A New Wave of Prosecutorial Hysteria: The Railroading of Tonya Craft April 2010
·       Saving Tonya Craft: An Integration of Science and Law 2011

Ms. Craft said yesterday that she has written a new book that will be released near the end of this year titled From Prosecuted to the Prosecutor’s Office as she has one year of law school left and is planning on becoming a District Attorney/Prosecutor. I just checked and could not find that soon to be released title but found these two, The Truth Will Set You Free: Surviving My Nightmare of False Accusations and  Accused: My Fight for Truth, Justice and the Strength to Forgive .

I learned yesterday that Ms. Craft had resources that the majority of Americans don’t have to fight false sexual allegations. She traveled to numerous states to find experts and the best of the best, she had a legal “team”  who set up a command center in her home during the 5 week trial. I considered asking her after her presentation how much in total did she spend but I decided against it, as whatever the number was it was way, way more than 99% of Americans could ever come up with to defend themselves. 

I can understand Ms. Craft’s desire to “reform” how District Attorneys investigate sexual accusations by becoming a Prosecutor in her hometown, but I wonder why she doesn’t put her experience and new law degree into defending those who are falsely accused and can not afford what it really costs to take such a case to trial. 

I also met Dr. William Alexander who blogged about the Tonya Craft case when it was unfolding back in 2010. 

I am 100% certain if Ms. Craft hadn’t had such extreme financial resources available to her at the time of the false accusations even if she had been able to get to trial (less than 5% of criminal cases in the U.S go to trial)  and not cave to a plea deal she would have been found guilty and would be wrongfully convicted, imprisoned and labeled a Sex Offender today. 

Truth and Justice in America requires coffers of money and without it most innocent people take a plea deal (94+% of criminal charges in the U.S.) to lessen the damage and destruction not only to their lives but to their family’s lives. 

The ACLU has a slogan that Freedom isn’t Free. How about Justice is Only Attainable for the Affluent?

Too many innocent people are listed on America’s pubic Sex Offender Registries because of ex’s who lie, angry parents who tell their children to lie, poorly written laws that don’t require corroboration, psychologists who coax children into answers, overzealous prosecutors who stack charges and have an abundance of mandatory minimums to select from and because of the financial costs of going to trial. 

For ever exonerated, pardoned or acquitted innocent American there is unknown number of innocent citizens sitting in a prison cell, on lifetime probation/GPS monitoring and must bear the burden of being a pubic Sex Offender. 

They aren’t the once-in-a-blue-moon case that Legislators, Commonwealth Attorneys (Prosecutors), Attorney Generals and Governors like to claim in an attempt to defend the current laws and justice system when a wrongful conviction comes to light. 

As noted during the Plea Agreement: Restoring Due Process and Fairness presentation at yesterdays summit, Innocence Projects work on overturning wrongful convictions for DNA, newly discovered evidence, misidentifications, poorly done police line-ups and prosecutorial misconduct, but no group has ever taken up wrongful convictions because of plea agreements. And they should! 

Mary Devoy