Justice: Denied -- The Magazine for the Wrongly Convicted




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Comment on Measure 11

By Phyllis A. Lincoln, JD Staff

You've been arrested but you are not guilty of the crime for which you are arrested. You figure, no problem, you're innocent, so you have nothing to worry about. Those days seem to be headed for extinction and mandatory minimum sentencing laws like Oregon's Measure 11 are helping put them there.

You have a prosecutor with a 98% conviction rate. He's given a case where there is no physical proof, the victim was examined and no abuse was found and the accused passed his polygraph test. How can you keep your conviction rate so high with a case like this hanging over your head? No problem, you get the lawyer of the accused to help you out. After all, he is working on a murder case and doesn't want to take the time to take this case to court. He just wants to make a little extra money.

The accused believes that since he paid $8,000, his lawyer is working for him and in his best interest. How wrong he is. The accused refuses to admit guilt for something of which he is not guilty, but his lawyer and the prosecutor continue to work on him. They tell the accused that he will be found guilty if he goes to trial. To stack the cards in their favor, they bring 13 counts of the same charge but on different dates against the accused. The accused man's lawyer and the prosecutor are only too happy to do the math. With the mandatory sentencing of Measure 11, the accused is looking at 56 years. No parole, no good time. If convicted, he will serve every day of those 56 years in prison.

Finally, when all else has failed, the lawyer of the accused brings in his female investigator and tearfully she tells the accused that he needs to take the plea bargain. Scared, but not wanting to admit he is guilty of something he didn't do, he agrees to take an Alford Plea. Score one for the prosecutor's side. One more conviction to keep his conviction rate high.

"Don't commit a violent crime against another person, and you won't be sentenced using Measure 11." How I wish this were true.

Justice Denied

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