Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life

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Jail Break

December 7th, 2010 6:40 PM

Let's Get This Jail Break Started

Free William Richards!

If you're like me, you look at the world and all its problems, and sometimes you wonder: how on earth can I make a difference? Global warming, wars, corporate capitalism...it's hard to even know where to start.

Of course, the truth is, working together we can solve even the biggest problems. But it will take decades. It might cheer us up if along the way, we could have some victories that don't change the whole world but change everything in one person's life.

That's what Jail Break is about. All over the planet there are people wrongly imprisoned (261 Americans have been exonerated since 1989 through DNA testing) or imprisoned for political beliefs. We can't spring all of them, but we can spring ONE of them. With this website, twitter, facebook and everything else, we have the tools to focus on a single horrible injustice, get organized, take action and make it right. Wouldn't it put a bounce in your step to know you helped set an innocent person free? Wouldn't you like to see the pictures the first time they walked out of the prison gates?

But who to start with? The amazing folks at the California Innocence Project have a suggestion: William Richards.

You can read more about the outrageous case of Richards here from Justin Brooks, director of the CIP. Believe me, it's worse than Les Miserables. Here's the short version: his wife was murdered in San Bernardino in 1993, and it took three trials to convict him because there was no evidence that he did it. DNA testing in the early nineties was crude and didn't rule him out as a suspect, and he was sentenced to life...until years later, when the California Innocence Project asked for the DNA from the scene to be retested using more advanced techniques. In 2009, a judge ruled the evidence pointed "unerringly to innocence...the DNA evidence establishes that someone other than petitioner and the victim was at the crime scene."

So there was a happy ending, right? Wrong. The state appealed the ruling. And William has cancer and could die before being released.

I'll have much more on what you can do to help free William Richards in the weeks to come. But here's how to start: just send him a letter and let him know the outside world hasn't forgotten about him. (As you can imagine, being falsely convicted of murdering your wife tends to bring down your spirits.) Here's the address:

William Richards, #P-22020
9500 Etiwanda Avenue
Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91739

Then post your letter in the comments here. We're working with William's lawyers to have him respond to what you send him as soon as possible.

Please also leave comments with any ideas for things to help William -- demonstrations, letters to the editors, a video you produce yourself. I'm ready to help organize anything and everything that might work.

So what are we waiting for? Let's get this Jail Break started. (And as soon as William is freed, it's onto the next innocent person wasting away in prison. Who will that be? That's going to be up to you.)

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