Category Archives: Activism

25 More Reasons for Criminal Justice Reform

20 months ago I wrote a post (click here) to recognize the successful efforts of The Innocence Project in exonerating 200 wrongly convicted (14 of which were on death row). In the time between that post and this one, the Innocence Project has helped 25 more wrongfully convicted regain their freedom! If this trend continues, we could see 275+ wrongfully convicted set free by the organization’s 20th anniversary in 2012. While this is all very good news for these individuals and their families, much more needs to be done to prevent others from being victimized by the state.

Many states offer nothing with regard to compensation for the wrongfully convicted. Of those which do, the IRS insists on collecting taxes from this compensation (a complete moral outrage). The Innocence Project is working to correct this injustice.

25 states do not have laws which require forensic evidence to be preserved post conviction. For those who wish to appeal and challenge their convictions, the chances of proving their innocence are much dimmer. One of the main reasons these states refuse to preserve biological evidence is the costs associated with storage.*

There are many other reforms which need to be made with regard to the use of informants (who have an incentive to tell the authorities what they want to hear to shorten their sentences), government fraud and misconduct, and unsound science (among other needed reforms).

I would also submit that it is time to revisit the issue of the death penalty. We now have 225** reasons to demand a national moratorium on the death penalty; 225 cases where the system failed, convicted the wrong person, and allowed the real perpetrators walk free. Even one innocent person killed by the state is too many.

In closing, the following is statistical data about the 225 exonerations In the Innocence Project’s winter 2008 Newsletter: The Innocence Project in Print.

Innocence by the Numbers: Eyewitness Misidentification

Percentage of wrongful convictions cases later overturned through DNA testing that involved eyewitness misidentifications 76%

Percentage of those misidentifications that were cross-racial 51%

Percentage of those cross-racial misidentification cases where a Caucasian witness’ misidentification led to the wrongful conviction of an African-American or Latino defendant 90%

Percentage where an African-American or Latino witness’ misidentification led to the wrongful conviction of a Caucasian defendant 1%

Percentage of all the misidentification cases where eyewitness testimony was the central evidence used against the defendant (without other contributing evidence like false confessions, invalid or improper forensic science, or snitch testimony) 20%

Percentage where more than one eyewitness misidentified the same innocent defendant 37%

Highest number of eyewitnesses misidentifying the same innocent defendant 10

States where eyewitness misidentifications have contributed to a wrongful conviction 32

States that have passed reforms to improve eyewitness identification procedures 7

States Legislatures considering eyewitness identification reforms for 2009 12 and the District of Columbia

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Gohmert’s Bailout Alternative: My Letter To John Campbell (R-CA)

Earlier this morning, Stephen Littau posted a novel idea by Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) to use the $350B set aside for the 2nd half of the TARP program for a two-month tax holiday early in 2009. This would eliminate the income and payroll taxes for the months of January and February, allowing workers to keep their own money.

I know, letting us keep our own money shouldn’t be declared as that much of a “novel” idea, but that’s what Congress has come to.

I personally like this idea, as I like most ideas that keep Congress’ hands out of my pocket. So I decided to let my elected representative, John Campbell (R-CA) know about it.

Below is my letter to Rep. Campbell. I highly recommend sending* similar letters to your own representatives, in order to at least propel this idea to the level of something they actually think about. Feel free to use my letter as a template, although obviously some of the aspects in there are written with the understanding that I’m speaking a Republican with some fiscal conservative street cred, so a few points may need to be massaged based on who it is sent to.

Dear Congressman Campbell,

I am writing to request your support for your colleague, Louie Gohmert (R-TX). He is currently preparing a new “bailout” bill that would declare an income and payroll tax holiday for the months of Jan-Feb 2009. For more information, see his press release at (

This bill will allocate roughly $330B, an amount Congress already has available through the remainder of the original TARP program, to be used for a tax holiday. The bailout would put people’s own money back in their pockets during a time of severe economic hardship, and the expectation of extra money in the Jan/Feb time period would be sure to spur retail spending during this Christmas season.

In addition, the inclusion of the FICA tax in the proposal ensures the extra funds will go disproportionately to those of lower income, who will be more likely to spend the money rather than immediately save it, encouraging domestic consumer demand.

Finally, as a libertarian, one thing that I know you and I have in common is a desire for tax relief. Allowing workers to see, even if only for two months, what their paychecks would be like without the greedy hands of IRS withholding would go a long way towards generating political support for the extension of the 2001/2003 tax cuts. This would again help our economy.

I would love to see you work with Rep. Gohmert on his proposal, and perhaps even become a co-sponsor. It would help your constituents, the economy, and potentially even improve the chances that we can enact a more permanent tax relief in the future.

Thank you for your time.

Brad Warbiany

Good luck, and if you send letters or receive responses, let me know.
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