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tv   Lara Bazelon Rectify  CSPAN  January 2, 2019 3:34am-4:45am EST

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[inaudible conversations] >> evening. >> good evening. [applause] - >> this is a very well-supported book and an absolutely wonderful one. my name is barry scheck and i'm cofounder of an organization called the innocence project. >> yay. >> which has been around for 26 years. and has been the business of organizing efforts to exonerates people who didn't commit crimes,
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but one part of our mission is also to do our very best to try to take care of those who are victims of the crimes as well as our clients who are certainly victims of the criminal justice system, and today, we're really privileged to talk with lara bazelon, who has written this absolutely fantastic book entitled "rectify: the power of restorative justice after wrongful conviction." hold the mic up closer. that's guess own booktv with all the flaws. that's great. so, lar remarks probably the best starting point for this, first of all, how did you come to write this book? you started off in the law as doing what? >> so, i started off, like you, as a public defender.
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a federal public defender, and then after seven years, i joined a smaller innocence project that is a satellite. so barry some and peter, he is being very modest. they started a movement, the innocence movement, and as result of barry scheck and the project, smaller projects bloomed, click one that loyola law school where i was employed to be the director. >> in los angeles. >> exactly. and so barry and i are connected because our client, the main client i represented when i was there, is a man improbably named cash register, my client, and there was an experience we went through, very small kind of scrappy innocence project of ex-en rating cash without dna, and that experience really changed my life in a number of ways. run of which was to think hard but not just the damage to cash, which was profound because he was convicted in 1979 and
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release fled 2013, meaning that by my life span, i was in kindergarten when he was convicted and my son was in kindergarten when he was released. but there was also this damage to his family and then also to the victims' family who never got justice because as you know, what happens in these chases victims are told a story, which is we got the bad guy and put away and then the story is not true. in the exoneration process there's retraumatizization and before you represented cash there was collateral damage. >> you should -- how does he spell his first him in, kash and his holm what symptom storms, kash register norman register,. >> the one thing that i really should say, it's not in the book but the -- your
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cross-examination of these witnesses at the hearing that led to the exoneration was really terrific, and any of you that have ever done this post-conviction work, you look at the record or do civil rights lawsuits, and you're waiting for the lawyer that can actually ask the questions and control the witnesses and get to the point. it was so good, lara. >> very nice to say but i always tell my dad the best comment i he got was that boarry schreck said it was the cleanest transcript. you can relate to this is a form public dever we are trained in a mindset that extremely adversarial and we see the world in black and white, and when it's a question of our client dying behind bars or getting out, we'll do think bit out challenging and dismantling the state's case beau they're onvery rigid and unforgiving and
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refusing to consider the fact thy might have made a mistake. that what my mindset when i represented kash and you i couldn't bear to meet his mom but a was heartbreaking enough to have to kind of get through his direct examination and i -- herdsman victim's family, and i had this crazy encounter of the retrial where the victim's family -- a murder victim and the daughter and the cousins-at the whole family showed up and sat in at the front row and i as a public defender ignored. the in my head i thought i'm not going look at system didn't. then one day in the break i went to bathroom and they were in the frontal of low line and one saw me and said to the other family members, something stinks in here. and then they all turned around and left. and i was alone in the bathroom,
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and i realized for the fitter time, the agony they were going through, sitting there, believing that my client was guilty and they were being dragged through the worst experience of their lives for a second time. and then the closing argument i did the first small restore disjustice i had done which is to say i want to acknowledge the victim's family is hire and want to start by acknowledging their pain, and it was my first step in seeing that there is another side to this. >> the -- just to put a fine point on kashs case, how many years he did, 30 -- >> he did 34. >> 34. and the reason that the city of los angeles gave him more money in his settlement and the largest individual compensation of anyone is that he went before the parole board dish can't remember how many times -- >> 11. >> but we had tapes of it, and the reason why i'm going to mention it is that it has a lot
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to do with the main theme of your book, about restorative justice, is that in the mediation, -- i have to talk but mideastation -- i think i can accomplish the mediation, when you play the tape of an innocent man that absolutely refuses, even though he can walk out the door if he'll just say he is guilty and just looked at them and said, that's nelson mandela. and he really has that kind of temperment. >> he does. he comes across exactly the way he is, which is just very stead fast, stoic, extremely genuine person and that quote from him that hangs in my mind from a hearing is, a mistake has been made here and no one wants to correct it. >> so, in this book, you do a wonderful job of -- it's very cleverly structured in that you start telling the stories of a
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number of exonerations, and begin to educate people about many of the accuse wrongful conviction, but as you tell the story you're he sort of setting it up for the restore consecutive justice moments between the wrongfully convicted and the victims. first of all, why don't you tell not everybody knows what restorative justice is, maybe you can share what that is. >> i didn't know what it was until a couple years ago, i had no idea. basically it's the different way of think can about harm and reparations. in our system of justice, we ask three basic questions: what crime has been commit, who committed it and what punishment is deserved? restorative justice system asks, who was harmed, what are their needs whose obligation to meet the needs? it comes at the idea of an offender and a victim from a place of accountability and
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repairing harm and reknitting a community rather than affixing blame in this zero sum, very binary world that we live in our tradition valled a very stare system -- adversary system. >> i found fascinating the way you were able to frame the journey of the victim of a crime, who is testified against somebody that was wrongfully convicted, and their transformation and the guilt they suffer. >> yes, this the roo thing that was so fascinate, you would think that no one would have less in common than somebody who has been wrong my convicted and send away and the person who testified against them. what is really interesting is they share the 360-degree view of the system, which is that the exonerated person was branded as a perpetrator and revealed in be a victim. the victim was told they were a victim and then led through a
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series of procedures operating in good faith that made them feel like perpetrator because they had contributed to someone being sent away. and so theying both see it from the same sides and from the opposite sides and they're in a weird way like the only person in the whole world who can understand the catastrophe from both perspectives. >> one great book but this that many might have seen, i "picking cotton" the story of jennifer thompson and ronald cotton. this book takes it to a step up, and some of it the work that jennifer does with katy monroe, but why don't you share with us -- you just picked the one that right now i could ask you to talk about so many of them but maybe the haynesworth story would be a good one. >> this story is fascinating
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because it's so improbable, but what happened was that this young woman, actually -- it's very close to my heart because i literally just came from an event where she was there. now she is obvious my no longer 21 years old because what happened was in 1984. she was working in a daycarester in church, someone broke into the church. she was white. was an african-american man, and he raped her at knifepoint. and like generalster thompson she was determined to survive the attack and comply with what what the police were asking and make an identification. this was a southeasterly yap rapist who had gone on to sexually assault four other women. one woman saw this young man, thomas haynesworth, 18, on the streets and he was literally on an errand from his mom to buy sweet potatoes for sunday dinner. never e never be trouble and one of the victims said that's my rapist. he was taken into custody. the police went to janet said we have someone in custody and we want to know if you can make an
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identification and then in her crime she felt, the person is there, i just have to find them. when you look at the two mug shot of thomas haynesworth and the actual rapist they're similar but she wasn't shown the actual rapist photo. she picked thomas haynesworth and so did all five of the women. he was charged in five cases and convicted in back-to-black-to-back trials, completely separate cases by streetly operate pel and sentenced to 74 years in prison. janet's case was first because she was considered to be the most credible victim and was terrified the whole time but believe in her heart she was doing the right in protecting other people. when he was sent away she felt some measure of relief. after he was placed in custody, 12 more women were attacked in a very similar manner the same geographic area and then in december of that year they arrest aid man named leon davis junior and all of the attacks stopped. janet's life went on. she got married, had children,
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and 26 years later, she was describing this today, the police showed up at her house, unannouncees, and they said, there's this thing called dna and we ran these results from your rape kit and there's not one chance, not one chance in 6.5 billion that the rapist u.s. anyone other than this guy leon davis and we made a mistake. they gave her no warning. her children didn't know she was survivor of sexual assault. and her whole world just collapsed in that instant, and then she was left to try to figure out, what aim supposed to do now? and what is so amazing about janet, she decided, okay, i'm going to do everything can to get him out and so -- i didn't realize until sean was talking about it and this is so -- you and petitioner. there was a whole effort to educate publicly the public and also the judges about exactly how unjustice this was because thomas had not just been
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convicted of raping janet but other convictions had to be towned without dnaed and they couldn't conclusive live prove it and janet was a real advocate by that by going to the press and saying i truly believe if made this horrible mistakes. >> oddly enough there have been quite a few other cases like this. it's very strange. louis diaz in the rapist in florida, lonny erbie in st. house louse -- st. louis, a whole strength of rapes that are sim lawyer and you get dna testing post conviction on a bun of them and what was strike but the haynesworth case, a very interesting role -- that what happens in these cases is sometimes prosecutors will take the position, you have to prove all of them beyond all doubt.
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eventualfully st. louis and in florida and some of these other places, they do eventually capitulate but not so quickly in this case. maybe you should share that. >> this is a really interesting thing and there are some -- i shouldn't say a lot -- some prosecutors who really dig down and deny innocence and come up with, as you know these very contorted theories how the personal is still guilty and in thomas haynesworth's tase the attorney general of the state of virginia is this could i, ken kuchinelli who was a tea party darling, doesn't believe in child changes, the first to sue over the enforcement of obamacare. does not believe in gay marriage, he two commonwealth attorneys whose offerses resaid overred they remaining rape convictions went to him without hope thinking he should shut them down and insist the two eye
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witnesses have never taken back their testimony. there's no garp, tease guilty, in stayed, to his credit, he spend weeks and months reviewing these cases and concluded -- he look at all 18 -- that it had to be the same person and wasn't any doubt in his mind and when he looked at the two mug shots side-by-side and said that should have clinched it for him. so it was interesting, like this close as our system could come to restorative justice. he went there and he went before the court of appeals enbank, nine justices saying you're not representing the state, what are you doing sneer he said i am representing the state because i'm other minister of justice and this man is innocent so i'm doing my job. because it's virginia, they won by one vote. but it's a real sort of lesson in how prosecutors can actually be in some ways the heros of the story and even more heroically in the intervening time between thomas was paroled and
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ultimately exoneratessed he was a registered sex offender and ken's response to thomas not to be able to get a job was to hire tom in the attorney general's office to work there as a registered sex offender which caused pushback and his feeling was i think he's innocent. why wouldn't i hire him and geoff him his life back. >> you tell that story wonderfully. one of detail i'd ask you to talk but with the victim, herself, what i think you do so well with her and the others in the book is describing what the sexual assault did to her and her life and how that is so rick to deal with, and that was part of her whole journey here. >> it's interesting because janet was just talking about this today. she was saying that for years she felt responsible because shehunt in her mind really reacted quickly enough in time
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to the fact the church was being broken into and shehunt escaped quickly enough and that all the thingses that go through her mimed, he boyfriend came with her at the trial and looked at thomas haynesworth and said he's not that big. which she interpret why didn't you fight back, and she blamed levers for jeers, thinking she contributed. once she was responsible for getting the guilty verdict she felt more confident and all of that was undone when she told she was wrong, and she described a complete loss of faith in herself, in religion and her own judgment and when she meets thomas and they have this like amazing moment together, years after the exoneration when they're at a place that could psychologically happen to them, he says i -- it's not i can forgive you but god's love is person and god can forgive you so i can forgive you through and
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that she felt this moment of spiritual transcendence and talked about the fact that the nature of their continuing relationship, which is like very close, loving friendship where they talk every day, has given her a rope to believe again. so it's like almost a spiritual journey. >> i'm so glad you mentioned that. that's one of the places i earmarked right away because one of the really strange things as you recount so well in this book is that people are always amaze it that somebody that has been in prison for so long and then gets out is not completely crazed and screaming and yelling and thrilled with anger and the answer is that in order to survive, they have to forgive already and find some kind tran -- transcendence.
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the exact quote from haynesworth is pretty extraordinary. >> so, this is their meeting when the two of them finally meet it and was brokered by thomas haynesworth's attorney, this remarkable woman. and this after janet asked thomas to forgive her. shawn looked over at thomas himself face was expressionless and he wondered how much she could ash sore. when it was his turn to speak he told janet the truth, yes, it was deeply frustrate examination pageful to know he was locked away for three decades whaling she had gone on with her life but it was an honest mistake that was made. he long ago to see egypt as a victim twice. first because leon david raped her and then because she identified someone else for his crime. he explained heir philosophy which as deeply infused by this religious faith. he aassureds janet he harbor node ill will or desire for ven venges said, i had to let go to
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be free. you can be bitter all day long bus it's not going to change the situation. the damage has been done. being a devout christian, meant that while i can't forgive with my love i can forgive with god's love. my love is not perfect, but god's love is perfect, and i can forgive then. >> so, there are so many stories like this, and they're told so well, and you write this so well, but i'd like to ask you to describe a little bit more about what jennifer thompson and katy monroe -- katy is in the book, already mother was wrongly convicted and she is somebody like lara and so many who have been working in the innocence movement, described what they put together and these retreats. >> so, as barry mentioned jennifer thompson, like janet burke, was someone who had been
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raped, a cross-racial misidentification, sim lawyer and she was mistaken, and then she and the exoneree rote this book together called picky cotton articulation best-selling book but their journey and at the time they wrote it -- should i say their road to reckon signaturevillation because they had a very emotional meeting at church and they became life-long friends and advocates for social justice so they were able to advocate for changes in lie so eye witness identification procedures in north carolina conform with best practices. they have a national platform now and jennifer just testified in california where we passed finally a witness i.d. reform, but in any event, i think janet -- i'm sorry -- i think that jennifer really believed that her story was -- with ronald was unique and that it was almost like a freak accident of nature and then when picking cotton became the best seller, she met all these people, like
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janet, who reached out to her, all these crime survivors and ex-on rhys who told her this is my story and then she realized in retroexpect what she and ronald haas hads done was restore disjustice and they could replicate the model, start nonprofit bring people in so basically develop the kind of relationships they delved that had been so healing for them and life-changing so jennifer and this woman, katy monroe whose measure wag wrongfully convicted of murder, started an organization called healing for justice. that was an inspiration. i couldn't have written it without them. they have retreats that last for three days, in a really beautiful rural space and they bring together crime victims, exonorees and family members and do restorative justice practices and they sit in a circle and talk through the harm and everybody gets to tell their story, it's hard to describe because people think that it's kind of like a kumbiya, which
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it's not. identity superintense and fur fraught and there's pain and anguish and anger but at the end there are bonds that form between everyone who went and they last, and people say, like this is the most healing thing that happened to me in all the years after my life was upended. >> one of the -- i'm so glad you put in this book, jennifer thompson, she has gone around the country with the behest of innocence organizations, at thing, and she tells her story, and every time he watch it i cry, and i've seen it, like, 60 times, and every time i see it, she is reliving it and i'm always feeling guilty, like, how can we put her through this? and you get to the bottom of that and also with darryl grant.
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>> right. so, this is a thing that is so tricky for people in the innocence movement because what barery and peter and all of the people they have inspired want is to get as many people out as possible, and to educate the public that this is a very serious problem. how serious? in 2016, three innocent people were exonerated every week of the year, and so a huge part of the work is getting that message out and there's no one who is a more powerful messenger that a sympathetic crime victim who turned out to be completely wrong, and so for somebody like jennifer, it's a natural thing to ask, can you come and speak to this audience, because there's nothing more convincing than that. it's more convincing even than hearing from an exonoree,ed the problem is it's exhausting for the victim and they can feel someone exploited or used and that there's this whole other piece to it which is their victimization that is not being addressed and that's the super tricky thing for advocates in
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innocence movements because we at the end of the day have to be down for our clients, and yet there's this other whole segment of the population that was victimized in a different way. >> you do that so beautifully here, bring throat everybody's attention. going back to restorative justice, i did you actually give the. >> you mentioned restorative justice. tell us a little bit about application of these restorative justice principles, not just to crime victims who made mistaken identifications or families even of the victims, but how it is
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actually being used in other places, in new zealand, hough it's being used in the united states, and what the success of it is. >> so, it's really interesting and i hate to brag but my adopted state of california is mr. in the forefront with restorative justice for so-called guilty people. so basically it's being used a lot especially oakland as an alternative to the juvenile justice system which can be extremely punitive and send particularly kid of color down the spiral into the school to prison pipeline. so oakland has man dated 100% of the schoolings have to have a restorative justice coordinator and a program in place by 2020 and over 50% of the schools have it. when they have disciplinary cases i watched one where a young man came to school and had a loaded gun in his pocket and fired it at the ceiling accidentally but normally he would end up going straight into the criminal justice system.
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instead the school did this circleful brought to a restore consecutive justice coordinator, his mom, his stepdad, the school schoolist, the school principal and members of the community and sat in a circle for three hours and talked about why thissings happened and the root causes, and what has led him to have this loaded gun and what is interesting in the beginning he didn't want to be part of it and he very much resisted opening up in enough way, but then by the end he was very emotional and talking about how he had -- it's moving but a but his mom was struggling and they were on food stamps and he felt likely needed to commit this robbery to get his mom money, and having this whole story unfold and instead of his unfolding in front of a judge, who would send him away i it was unfolding in a group of people who promised to support him and they made up a plan for home and who we be there for him at such and sump other time and i followed up and the excels if
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there graduated from high school and has a decent job. it's a story how to use an alternative and oakland is trying to do that more and more. the one final thing is that -- which is super interesting, there's this federal judge in boston, named leo, and he is trying to do restorative justice for adults charged with really serious federal crimes. they go into the federal system and looking at a lot of "time" and win a buy insure from the u.s. attorney's offers and probation department they pull them out and go through a 18 month restorative justice program and their graduation rate is good the numbers low because it's new but the travels all over the country trying to convince other federal judges to set it up in their courtrooms. >> i think we should -- we have a we're blessed with a uincomely informed oddins of the criminal justice sax of the american bar association, i. >> hi, guys. >> a lot of people that know an
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enormous amount, but i just really wanted to make sure that people heard that about restorative justice because you make the case so well here on a personal level you tell the story beautifully. you get into the underlying spiritual issues, but the restorative justice you describe, it's not like just, it's all kumbiya. it's very hard-headed and if people are really going to do something about mass incarceration in this country, it's not because we're just going to get rid of all the low-level people, low-level marijuana arrests, somebody has to deal with crimes of violence. we're not serious unless we do that. this struck me and you make persuasive case is an of avenue that people ought to per sure and restorative justice is a nice thing to think but in terms
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of the climate the country and people not figured each and attacking each other. i just love this book. so thank you, sweetheart. >> thank you. >> so, questions, judge donald, can we get a mic. >> thank you very mump. this has been a wonderful discussion and i look ford to reading the book. you mentions the experience and the actions of mr. k uc hinelli and the virginia case and that three people per week are exonerated in the country. if the experience and the actions the judge typical or atypical of the state's representative in those circumstances. is there a lot of resistance from most states attorneys? >> that's a great question himself pretty atip scale think part of the reason why he was able to do what he did was he
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was such a law and order guy it was like, bring it on, whatever you want to say about me you can't assail my credentials. what i found is it's the middle of the road democratic d.a.s who are the most frightened of being seen as being soft on crime or having, quote, made a mistake. so when i was at loyola, for example, and i don't mean to ma line anybody who love the los angeles stricter attorney's office but we met nothing but resistance in kash's case from the beginning, middle to end, nothing but resistance even though there was no case left and that's been true through successive litigation, that said i feel like there's a movement to elect reform minded prosecutors and the best exam, i larry krosner in philadelphia, kim fox in chicago, and prosecutors who are running on a platform or, we're not even prosecutors. layer krosner had never ban
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prosecutor, they're run ago shoot offerings black men that were prosecuted and also runnen othe idea of wrongful convictions and since larry has been elected in philadelphia their conviction has gone from being a complete itutter joke to exonerating three or four people. so if you get a progressive candidate in office and the electorate is expanding you can make change and i hope we're moving in that direction. >> before we leave that, not just because your mother is in the audience and you deer failed from child had has a throat do with the transformation in philadelphia, and not just philadelphia because the woman that is running the conviction integrity unit and the best at this is -- among the best is a woman nailed patricia cummings who is somebody that we found in the michael morton case that
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nina did texas, which was an exoneration that led to changes all over the state of texas. so, another question. >> elizabeth. >> we already heard a bit on this topic but i'd like to hear from you. a lot of traditional criminal defense lawyers who are part of the very strength adversarial system background, just rebel against the concept of restorative justice. cue tell us why you think -- [inaudible] >> i'm one of those people. i am by nature very adversarial and i tend to see things in black and white and get really caught up in my own version of events and my own version of what is the quote-unquote truth, and when i started looking into restorative justice i was skeptical about it. but i as also looking for answers in part because what was going to happen to cash and his
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mom and i wanted to know and thin started thinking more and the more i learn the more i thought, why aren't we all doing this in small ways in our own life? so often i income our personal relationships of professional relationships we see ourselves as the victim and this other person is the perpetrator and they're so awful and what happened to us is so terrible and usually it's just far more complicated than that, and also rather than writing people off, seeing them as potentially people who we can possibly sit down and have a conversation with an understand, is actually a much healthier way of existing in the world, and i think the mentality, the mentality i had when i was a federal public defender, is exhausting, and it's not a good way to live your life. i think you run out of energy, run out of a lot of things and i think in the end of the day, recognizing that there is kind of some broader possibility for injuring and common humanity is just a healthier way to exist in the world. >> i want to press the question
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of restorative justice being main stream. i worked at the -- i've seep the concept for restorative justice in the context of mental health courts, neighbor drug courts. judge -- juvenile court systems, exonorees, it's ease you y to stay somebody was not guilty of the crime, that the person deterring of restore disjustice but apart from nibbling at the edges, and apart from the koch brothers and -- there ought to be something other than punishment,ing what is the real avenue for breakthrough to the public which a large portion of which is feeling very embattled by crime and is buying the message that all we need to dials be tougher in the end. ultimately it's the public that will either support or defeat
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restorative justice measures. >> that's true. and i do think in some -- first of all we are a along afrom them spun being charged with murder and the prosecutors saying goring to 0 to have a restore jiff justice circle and then go on our way. we're not there. but i do think that what has happened -- so interesting. just watching crown heights, this wrongful conviction mop have i when you listen to the sound bites from nixon, reagan, bush 1, bush 2 and clinton, they're in distinguishable, could be the same white man talking about how we need to bring tough and bring criminals to heel and i believe we're swinging back. we have jeff sessions and donald trump and we also have local injures addictions which is mass incarceration, huge costs, recidivism and nothing working. in california i don't think that jerry brown ableeding heart liberal. he's actually a clean skate and wants to save money. if you tell jerry brown you can
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spend a college tuition to send this person to brian or try this other thing, we have a pilot program and i has an 85% rate he's going to take a chance. in some conservative jurisdictions there's momentum to embrace that, too. if only from then standpoint of fiscal conservative tim and this makes sense but i think it is a delicate dance in the become but appeals to conservative is the religious component and restorative justice is not inherent by religious but a love ohm peeve describe it as a deeply religious experience and that idea of redemption and a god-like enter generalization and transformation resonates with a lot of people who are traditionally more conservative. >> i'm so glad you asked that question. i think the short answer to it is read this book. i'm being serious, because when -- year 2000, jim dwyer,
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peter and i wrote a book called "actual innocence" which was kind of a primer for setting up the network of innocence projects, but the concept was, among others, -- i the publisher said, just look through the shoes -- walk through the -- in the shoes of the person that is wrongfully convicted and see that, right? and then all of a sudden, all these ex-ron racings happened, people across the country begin to think, well, something is wrong with the criminal justice system there are these problemmed and let's work on reforming it because they see it from the point of the person wrongfully convicted. this book begins to show us everything from the point of view of all the victims, everyone, that is a victim in what you call the earthquakes and so that is what i thought was so spectacular about it.
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because it does open up the political space for people to start think offering restorative justice solutions in the hardest cases, the ones of violent crime. >> and maybe clear culpability, too. >> absolutely. i'm sorry -- >> no, no, that was good. >> you were saying that. >> yes. >> i dealt with victims of serious crimes, including murder, who wanted everything from the offender to be executed to the offender's families -- the offender be completely french. not out of prison but forgiven. how much should the victim -- we're not talk us about exoneration -- how much should the victims survivors play in
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this process? >> so, there is no restorative justice without buy-in from the victim. can't happen, and in the case i was talk us about with janet and thomas, sheriff, the lawyer, was saying it takes the right exonoree and the right victim at the right time. so it can't work unless that's what the victims want ask that's an important point to emphasize, not like the criminal justice system where we have a rigid process in place and you follow it whether you want to or not. with restore disjustice, both sides have to comp together voluntarily to do this work. >> i wonder but -- restorative justice to situations where -- [inaudible] -- because that would be a large part of what is happening. >> right. so, when i followed a couple of people who went through the -- in federal court in boston and
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all had to plead guilty before they went to the restorative justice process, and one of them was the guy named bobby fitzgerald who had his family had logged and been entangle inside the mav with "whitey" bulger, which is strangely topical, rest in peace. bobby spend his whole life caught up in time and he dealing drugs and that has been his whole life. he was an addict and he had always justified it to himself as my crimes are essentially victimless because i distribute huge amounts of drugs bums i don't see where they go and i get my money and go home and get high. when he went through the process, what the federal court program did was sit him down with a mother whose son had been killed in a robbery over drugs, that downstream had come from this organized crime organization. sat him down with mother of someone who had overdosed on -- so he was confronted with the
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consequences of what he had done in this direct way limit had to account for his own behavior and own it. and i think that really resonated with him in a way that nothing else did. so just the confrontation between what you have done, your denial and then the actual consequences for a lot of people is like this transformative moment and if you, get the person to that point and you can get the victims -- even if they're, quote, surrogate victims because they're not direct -- to come in and speak it often has profound consequences and there's just another woman whose son was murdered and she went to see the two men who killed him in prison and she sat down with them and said i know you're getting out in six or eight years and you can do my son, my only child away from me and you owe me. what i want is a promise you're going to live law-abiding lives and never take anybody else away from their mother, and when they got out, she drove them to her son's grave and they stood on the grave together and they promised her that they were
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going to live law-abiding lives and they both have. so, i think it depends on the case, doesn't always happen but you have momented that are out of body experiences that change people. >> does that make any sense to you? >> yes. i'm just thinking about, then what? >> well, so -- >> over talking beaut huge structural change in criminal justice. then what? >> re storetive justice, the guilty and the victims meet and discuss the consequences of the act, of the guilty. now what you do with the guilty? what do you think. >> i think it's depending on the case. i think in the cases i'm talking about, these men served a certain amount of time and then they had made this promise about at what they -- it's about what
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are those who obligation to meet the needs of the victim. she said what her needs were and she said i'm holding you to accountant to meet my needs. these mr. needs and i expected you to meet them nor rest of your life, and they have promised to spend the rest of their lives doing that. and so that's what is next for them. in that particular case. the thing that i think is tricky but restorative justice it's very case specific and different victims and offenderred i meet and want different thing and it doesn't always work. >> what is good about in leading these stories, is that when you -- there is something liberating about the act of forgiveness. it's -- and it's funny because when you see it on the end of the person that is wrongly convicted and that is in prison, they have this spiritual transcendence and it's not
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always religion. it's that they stop hating. they stop hating the people that put them there, and once they do that, they are liberated, even though they're behind bars, and what is so fascinating about this book is that you show us the other side, which is the victims of crime, and i mean, it was so striking to me to read your descriptions of the victims. and the family members of the victims and how crime really destroys lives, and all the sequela and everybody else in the family and you call it the earthquake, right? >> yes. >> and here are all these people that have that happening to them, and it's not necessarily -- just hating the person that did this to you, is not necessarily good for the person to whom it happened.
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and so to that is really what comes home from this. >> that's why i was wondering how we can apply restorative justice to the rightly convicted to have some sort of healing. >> i think -- i mean i think we talk but examples but i think you can kind of downsize it to your own life and think about, what is the most sort of -- the relationship that went wrong in your life that just caused you all kind of pain and damaged your life and made you angry. i have one in mind for knives and you can brought that relationship story you told yourself but the relationship how it went wrong and broke and what a horrible person that and is then you reconceive the narrative. it's much more complicated and nuanced and regardless of what did what to whom you come to a place of fifth presidency and there's such a relowe life and release in that, even in our own lives of letting go in our own toxic interpersonal dynamics. and then if you bring that out
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in a bigger space -- i'm not saying every horrible crime but there are many, many crimes where what the victims actually want is acknowledgment and accountability. that's real what they want, the person to say i hurt you, i did this, i'm cease-fire and what ick do to make amends, more than whatever the death penalty, i just think there oar ways for victims to come to a point of reconciliation and the feeling of freedom that comes from truly forgiving in your heart rather than letting what happenedway warp and twist your life so your a bitter and hateful person. >> i was curious about the boston program. what happens for the 18 months. >> they go through -- they have incredibly dish couldn't supply with it. they have to get a job go to school, report in constantly, drug test, but then the have to do restore disjustice workshops
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on a fairly regular basis and sit in a circle with often times what i call surrogate victims because they're for the victimless crimes, they bring in victims of drugs and gun crimes and then hey have to listen to the stories and also just engage with their own behavior. what bobby fitzgerald, he has to deal with the fact he came from not just a family of mobsters but addicts and his father abacked him and he pay been donned his son and be forced to with fundamental thing. one this that turned bobby around was not just the sieber living -- sober living facility and couldn't drink or do drugs and he decided he would take custody of his son and took that on an as responsibility, having basically abandoned him and that relationship was motivating, not just to stay sober but to convince everybody he shouldn't go to present ion though he was facing all this time. so it depends but that was his particular experience.
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i will say in that federal program. it's extremely rigorous. >> so some of the stories you tell but restorative justice involve cases where their facts are clear, somebody is guilty or somebody is exonerated and you can understand the eye witness just got it wrong. but most of the criminal justice system in my experience, at lease, is just really deeply factually ambiguous. somebody is maybe guilty of something but probably not get of what they were charged with or maybe they were, but there is a role for restore consecutive model -- restorative justice model in a praise place with factual -- >> you're speaking to a cause close to my heart but bomb to step on the third valley be he can electric trove cuted like a new york city rat but i the cease in these title ix cases with incredibly ambiguous facts
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and people are convicted in blushing sticks i find at the end hoverday he everybody's life is ruined, through a process that is adversarial and just awful. and when i think every single time, what if we tried restorative justice, at least tried it. and then the schools don't. i do feel like that's one of the factual situations where it actually -- it actually could work to benefit of both parties. i just went to court door client and we won. i say that in quotes because at the end of the day the judge said, this is one of the most destructive things i've ever seen and these people are so damaged and i make the finding not of any joy but because there's no evidence to support it by the standard, and i just wish that none of us had to be here. was like,ey, it wish we didn't have to be here either.
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it was painful. >> just to follow up on that, and campus, i totally agree with you, and as far as mediation on campus is concerned, i think the obama administration saying their there could be none was a real problem. but i was -- wanted to ask you before you raised this question, in cases i've seen where they use restorative justice on campus there's a little distortion in it in that it is based on him saying, yes, i did what you said i did. and i -- there's an interesting example that was broadcast on vice where there was a kind of immediatator, and she turned and they each described the situation, extremely ambiguous, both of. the didn't really remember what happened, and they -- so there was no clear story but the mediator at the end turned to
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the boy and said, is the time you use to say what you and are he said, yes, i'm a rapist, and i think that can be terribly concerning in a situation where you have someone in kind of this administrative setting being forced to admit to a crime in order not to go through a title ix process. >> i agree and we talked about this in the criminal context. barry had a client who they rung a plea out. you want to get so you say something that is not true and the problem is that schools are not very good at implementing their regular proprocedures. the restorative justice programs that don't work that people klain about in schools that file us because the people who
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implement them don't know what they're doing. that's not restorative justice. so for it to work you have to have people who were competent on the ground and that's a big ask, i think in a lot of schools. >> that's with our clients, the innocents who -- kash register, it's so horrendous to see somebody -- we're about to exonerate somebody who had to go before those parole boards and deny, deny, deny, and then finally, with his father dying, got everybody in his family to write letters and say, oh, yeah, i was a crack addict, and that's why i committed this crime, when nothing could have been further from the truth. so you're so right about the ambiguous fact situation. well, yes.
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>> i was wondering, you -- [inaudible] but a the exonorees who were co oressed into making congestion -- coerce evidence into -- coerced into making confessions and so many people actually confess to something they didn't do, in the case of kash, year after year saying i'm innocent, i'm innocent. and for us it's impossible to imagine you would admit you would -- would admit to a crime you didn't commit and on the same note about the criminal justice system and how they can be held accountable for coercing people into confessions. >> this is actually a good segway into talking but nina and her mom. the case this tony wright case in philadelphia, a violent crime, an elderly woman was raped and murdered in her home in north philadelphia and her niece was a philadelphia police officer and there was a big push to get the person and a day
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later the arrested this guy, 20-year-old guy, tony wright and the police because of a culture that was put in place by the police chief and major, frank rizzo, they were trained to beat confessions out of suspects particularly black suspects whose lives they saw as being disposable. what they said to tony wright, excuse me my language is, we'll poke you eyes out and skull fuck as the to of him were pressing in from both sides and explained he would get the death penalty and after hours he signed the statement that they had wherein out for him and then that was the statement that was used to convict him and condemn him. ... >> obviously, they're guilty.
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with interesting about tony's case i think is that the victims grandniece ultimately, after reading about the case realized all my god, you know, he was coerced. and she said the letter sure to the da that was so moving, he could have been my nephew. having a fee that is 20, african-american, i can see him in the position and easily doing this. a way of her getting to the point of you know she had she been one of the people advocating for him to be executed. she was able to come to the point of view of okay, it's possible for them to be course -- to be coercive that you would confess. >> i want to add, i think barry testified to this experience.
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i think people don't realize how common false confessions are. and they don't necessarily have to be -- if you give me enough time, and enough resources, i can get either one of you or anybody else in this room, to confess to being a martian invader. i mean, it is not that hard if you know what you're doing and have enough time and resources and where the person done enough. it is very common. >> as i should say doesn't necessarily, i mean you can be young. kids are incredibly susceptible. my juvenile clients would say like, i just said because he told me i could go home. and i'm thinking, what universe were you going to go home? but they think they are going to go home. >> and the whole interrogation process is designed to make them come to that point. ellen? >> there's a real disconnect in document exoneration, innocent people, the reason innocent people get convicted and the daily practice of prosecutors
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and defendants so doesn't necessarily translate that if you are prosecutor looking at a case, not in hindsight but going forward that this could be a false confession. and the same is true you have yet another case and this guy says i didn't do it, part of it's a long conversation. you know, we are teaching people the same things that we taught them 30 years ago before innocence -- we still doing the same thing. other than electing new prosecutors which weird doing a relatively good job of, what is your reaction to this? >> that is a really great question because i think i've been in that part of your client saying, this thing is not true or sean actually his attorney was saying today when we were giving -- thomas had told her the story that he'd been in jail with the real rapist. and when he was charged in the
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subsequent crime, he'd come to thomas and said hey, we come to court and sit next to me because we look so much alike. that the victim in my case won't be able to figure it out, you have already gone down. your life is over. but i can still get out. and when thomas told shauna she said she was writing it down as she wrote a note for herself, you know, obviously not true. right? because defense attorneys alike, it's bull. and that she interviewed lawyer and sure enough that's what happened. i feel like this is a lesson like we get really jaded. and its clients say they didn't do it and then the prosecutors are told, they've every intent to believe that and it is horrid. it is hard not to get jaded. >> is one of the great challenges that we really have to work the rules to protect against cognitive bias.
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and if you play by the rules and you try to keep an open mind, and investigations, whether the prosecutor or defense lawyer, it helps. i mean, this is a heretical thought. right? but because you know, half my relatives and friends would kill me for saying it but if i had to really work legal education and clinics in the united states, i would give people their tuition money back if they worked two years for a prosecutor and then worked the next two years for a defense lawyer and vice versa. because i don't think, i think too much of this is tribal. within my limited life in the law, you know, i have seen that you know, defenders and prosecutors say, they get in these jobs and they stay there.
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and they don't go out onthe other side. and i don't think that's good. i don't think it's good for the profession , i don't think it is generally speaking, good for the way people look at things. you and then chris. i'm sorry. >> i don't how to put this but i want to thank you for writing the book. and for the work on this project. i think that the one big thing we are missing with all of this is that trial judges can have when hearing the cases, you have the exposure, every judge should have to read your book and have to know that there are people that are innocent, that are coming in the court said do get false confessions and every investigator is not the best and perfect. if you keep your mind open and you know that it can happen because you've worked as a former prosecutor or what have you, you have seen it. then you know it is possible
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and so, you are more open and on alert. and so we need to educate those that are working in the system that these things are happening daily. because people don't know. >> that is really true. one of the things about the case to me that was so affirming was that the judge who got the case, she never granted one in 30 years on the bench and it was not even, we did not even write it. it was compelling enough that she thought something is wrong. she pointed us in and the whole time i mean, i just notice her, it wasn't one of those judges there like checking their email or reading a bunch of things i mean she was completely focused on us the entire time. the second day she called us to the bench and said to the prosecutor, do you think he is guilty? and the prosecutor said, 12 people said he was guilty. and she said that's not what
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i'm asking you what are we doing here? for me, that's when i knew it was over. we were looking at the rest of the trouble she signaled you know, there is just no way i'm going to uphold this conviction. but assume that she really made the effort to reeducate herself. and i felt that happening because she was very interactive during the trial. she would take over the questioning. it was clear that she was reading at night and thinking about things and she is sort of at the model for me the sense of someone who was a career prosecutor who is really not inclined to believe any of this. and felt like, something is not right here, i'm going to educate myself. and it was very brave i think in her ruling. >> and in the end, she actually made a ruling. it was a day she actually made a ruling that he was innocent beyond a reasonable doubt. [laughter] when you get to depose everybody and -- >> it is helpful. >> i am a prosecutor in a work
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around the country. i think there have been teachings, i think there has been an change among prosecutors. they are intensely aware of this potential of innocence. and i think we are benefited by a number of innovations some of which are proposed and you and i debated over the years i openly agree with. we now see interrogations on videotape. we watched the police working on cameras. we're have learned far more about forensic evidence than we ever do. and i do not think people really understand the degree of our relationship with the police. it is not a rubberstamp. it is far more contentious than i think people understand.and there is, i go around the country i'm sitting here next to kim parker from kansas. i go around the country, we are intensely aware of the potential for innocence.
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and it is of course rest, the greatest tragedy that there could be. we have a tremendously -- it's very difficult for us, very emotional for us, but when i started as a prosecutor, our world is different and i have to thank you for bringing this to our attention. but i do think ellen, there is a channel only way we do things. >> let me just say, and thank you for this. i -- there are all of these progressive people being elected. [inaudbile] i understand and i think it's a misconception. people should go back and look at the people in office and they really are changing their policies. we are mostly in the innocence movement i think, like most,
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when it is done correctly. these conviction integrity units. it is a different idea because it is not for everybody. no defense lawyer should bring their client in if they think i have an issue but i may have -- not too sure they are innocent. >> not sure the dna test will show. chris and some of them are non-dna but when you have this process where it is a joint search for the truth. and you literally sign an agreement. you say, here's my -- the innocence organization, you get the entire prosecutors file. with all of the work product. you know certain identifiers, all of the work product and then both sides sit down and
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say, okay, what is an investigative plan? what experts can we agree on? which witnesses should we talk to first? and you go step-by-step and either agree that somebody is innocent or there is a constitutional violation. you agree did not happen or if you disagree usually you can go to a judge, that model is really different. because in the postconviction context and we are not adversaries. and i do see in this really strengthens the point. they begin to look at cases and look differently. it's been an encouraging experience for me to see that. and it is not just you know, democrats. we have the republican prosecutor in jacksonville, florida. >> and sharon --
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>> sharon. >> i think part of it too is, and i will shamelessly talk about the article that only my dad will read. but you have to change the narrative about what it means to be a good prosecutor. if you look at the ethical obligations to be a minister of justice, what does it mean? even when it is inconvenient and is dropping case too often i think prosecutors are penalized for that. and you would be seen as weak or if you let guy out and you made that mistake who else did you screw up with? so there is an idea that it is a political suicide or a bad idea to concede error. the more we hold people up as heroic that do the right thing like -- a democrat, republican, it can be cross racial, it doesn't matter. but there holding onto that i
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am here for justice, i'm not here to hold onto a conviction. no matter what. which is what they say. the more i think we will normalize bravery or normalize the idea that it is right and just to embrace your obligations and it is politically -- >> i think that this is it. this is a great discussion and it's been a wonderful audience. and a wonderful book. [applause] >> thank you! thank you for being here. [inaudible conversations]


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