Raye of Hope.org - A Nation Marching for Freedom of Wrongfully Convicted

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On June 27, 2009 at 10 am C.S.T., every state in the nation will be filled with the cries of concerned citizens; a unified voice for freedom in an effort to raise awareness of wrongful convictions.

Once someone you love is wrongly convicted, you never sleep the same again.

Footsteps echo across the nation from days past. It was the spring of 1965 and the start of a Freedom March began, focused on civil rights and segregation. Dr. Martin Luther King and the Freedom Marchers brought awareness to their cause as they flooded the steps of the State Capitol in Montgomery, Alabama. Thousands of voices united as one as their cries for fair treatment and equality were heard around the world. Forty-four years later, with the election of our first black president, the Freedom Marchers from long ago have fulfilled their "dream."

With the election of our first black president, the focus has now turned to awareness for wrongful convictions and ending the archaic practice of putting our nation's offenders to death. On June 27, 2009 at 10 am C.S.T., every State Capitol in the nation will be filled with the cries of concerned citizens; a unified voice for freedom - http://www.freedommarchusa.org. The members of http://www.rayeofhope.org are organizing a nationwide Freedom March and to date, the response has been overwhelming.

Bringing awareness to wrongful convictions and abolishing the death penalty is a crucial topic today. Samuel R. Gross's "Convicting the Innocent" quotes:

  • 2% of death sentences in America are based on false convictions
  • African American men are more likely to be falsely convicted of rape than innocent white men, especially if the victim is white
  • Innocent teenagers accused of murder are more likely to falsely confess than innocent adults
  • In the last three decades, over 200 innocent American defendants have been exonerated and freed by DNA tests
  • Over 200 others have been exonerated without the benefit of DNA evidence, including more than a hundred who had been sentenced to death
  • Through 2007, there were 210 DNA exonerations; all but a handful of the defendants were convicted of crimes that included rape, although a substantial number were also convicted of other crimes against the same victims ~ for example, murder
  • There were 126 death row exonerations from 1973 through 2007, 15 of which are also included among the DNA exonerations.
  • Death sentences represent less than 1/10 of 1% of prison sentences but they account for about 22% of known exonerations from 1979 through 2003, a disproportion of more than 250 to 1 (Gross & O'Brien 2008)
  • We know of 600 to 700 exonerations of all types, from across the country over a period of 35 years
  • The truth is that once we move beyond murder and rape cases, we know very little about any aspect of false convictions. Over 95% of the individual exonerations that we know about are in murder or rape cases, which together account for about 2% of all felony convictions, and a smaller proportion of all criminal convictions (Durose & Langan 2003).

More Reasons to March:

  • Oklahoma imprisons more women than any other state in the nation
  • Only two states in our nation have abolished the death penalty
  • There were a record 112,498 women in state and federal prison in 2006 (sentencingproject.org)
  • The number of women in prison has increased by 812% from the total of 12,331 in 1980, more than double the 380% increase for men during this period (sentencingproject.org).

Shall we continue to lock away people who could possibly be innocent? How many children are being raised without a parent due to wrongful convictions? Shall we continue to put to death those who may have been wrongfully convicted?

Nationwide coverage is needed to bring attention to this injustice. Ask yourself, as a society, are we to stand by, quietly thinking "someone else" will bring awareness to wrongful convictions?

According to Bill and Gloria Newmiller, "Once someone you love is wrongly convicted, you never sleep the same again." Their son, Todd Newmiller was, in their opinion, wrongfully convicted of murder (Colorado Appeals Case # 04CR5770) after a fight that left one man dead, and witnesses who reported the state's star witness was the only man seen fighting with the victim. For more on Todd's case, go to http://bearingfalsewitness.blogspot.com.

Gayla Smith believes her daughter,Raye Dawn Smith (Oklahoma Appeals Case # F-2007-1196), was wrongfully convicted in connection with the death of her two-year-old daughter, Kelsey Smith-Briggs, http://www.thetruthaboutkelsey.com. Gayla states, "Our family has been living in a nightmare since October 11, 2005. Before my granddaughter's death and wrongful conviction of Raye Dawn, I thought our justice system was fair. Unfortunately, our nightmare will not end until this injustice ends."

Do your part to effect change for a better America. Please go to http://www.freedommarchusa.org and http://www.rayeofhope.org and learn about the unfortunate prevalence of wrongful convictions. Don't let another innocent person's blood be spilled or years of a life stolen by a justice system that continues to put political agendas above the lives of our nation's people.

Be the reporter with the guts to stand up and do what's right and report the story that matters to the future of our country. Speak for the wrongfully convicted - everyone deserves a voice.

Media contacts Sherri Heath (405)308-6238 and
William Newmiller (http://bearingfalsewitness.blogspot.com)


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Sherri Heath & Bill Newmiller
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