Articles Tagged with wrongful imprisonment

For the past 28 years, James Gibson has maintained his own innocence. For 28 years he has remained behind bars. This is despite the fact that Gibson ostensibly confessed to the murders of an insurance agent and his friend. Gibson has always said that, over the course of two days, he was beaten by former Chicago police officer Jon Burge and the confession elicited during interrogation was coerced. Burge was accused of torturing confessions out of at least 200 suspects during his 19 years on the force. While the statute of limitations had elapsed on many of Burge’s crimes, he was eventually convicted in 2008 of obstruction of justice and perjury. He was sentenced to four and a half years, but released in 2014 after serving less than three.

As Burge’s crimes became public, Governor George Ryan pardoned four of those who had been convicted of crimes with confessions obtained by torture. Still, there are many behind bars who were convicted on phony confessions. James Gibson is among them. After 28 years, an appellate court threw out his conviction and ordered a new trial. Nonetheless, Gibson will likely remain behind bars until his friends and family raise the $20,000 necessary to release him on bail and will require electronic monitoring for the duration of the trial. 

Gibson Has Always Maintained His Innocence

javier-villaraco-235574-copy-300x225There has been a preliminary hearing to consider whether the civil rights of a prisoner who has been in solitary confinement for eight years were violated. This was not a final ruling but rather permission to proceed with the case. That means that there was either probable cause or serious constitutional issues that had to be dealt with by the court on the case.

The full court reversed a summary judgement that had earlier been passed against a federal inmate. The prisoner had brought a petition about his constitutional due process and rights. Aaron Isby had been convicted of robbery as well as serious bodily harm in 1989. He was imprisoned at the Pendleton Correctional Facility.

When an inmate, Isby had had an altercation with a counselor. He was gassed and apprehended by a cell-extraction team. A dog died during the incident. The inmate actually stabbed two officers. This led to a charge and conviction of attempted murder as well as battery. Another 40 years were added to his sentence.

DSC_0289Our system of law and order works pretty well, most of the time. After an arrest, it is up to the prosecutor to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the accused is the perpetrator of the crime. The defendant is entitled to be judged by his peers, and he is entitled to be represented by an attorney of his choosing during every aspect of the criminal proceedings up to and including trial of the matter; and to be able to present to the court any evidence of applicable defenses. However, sometimes there is a glitch in the system, a miscarriage of justice that results in the conviction and incarceration of an innocent person. Tragically, there are cases where a person convicted of a crime, has served years in prison for a crime he or she did not commit. The wrongfully accused can never get those years back, but may be entitled to compensation.

The State of Florida vs. Bain

In 1974, James Bain was convicted of breaking and entering, kidnapping, and rape, and was sentenced to life in prison. Bain maintained his innocence throughout, and after serving 35 years of the life sentence, his innocence was proven by DNA evidence.