This guest blog comes from Robert Perske, a long-time TASH member and advocate for persons with disabilities who confess to crimes they did not commit. Please visit his website at www.robertperske.com.
As a member of TASH and as a self-driven citizen advocate for persons who confess to murders, rapes or arson they did not commit, let me share what I feel. For 34 years I have focused on these persons on the streets, and in courts and prisons. When their situations become painful I write about them.
So, when the Connecticut Legislation announced a hearing on Senate Bill 954: An Act Concerning the Electronic Recording of Custodial Interrogation on March 9, I seized the chance to argue for the passing of this bill.
My experiences prompted me to speak out on behalf of 75 persons with intellectual disabilities who confessed to serious felonies they did not commit — and later were exonerated.
65 have been legally exonerated
29 of them have been exonerated by DNA tests
5 are heading for court hearings by “Innocence Project” groups
5 have been so wrongly executed before modern law procedures, they will always be painful to justice loving lawyers
1 of the five wrongly executed, Joe Arridy, was given a posthumous pardon by Colorado Governor Bill Ritter, Jr. just two months ago, on January 7. (www.friendsofjoearridy.com spells out why)
I predict that Richard Lapointe of Connecticut will be added to the list (again, www.friendsofrichardlapointe.com says why)
Last-minute involvements in the case of Joe Arridy prevented me from testifying in person. Even so, Arc of Connecticut Executive Director, Lynn Warner, volunteered to voice the facts in my absence.
Also, the stories of these persons are now being edited by Yvette Taylor into a larger, well-referenced article entitled “Perske’s List: False Confession from 75 Persons with Intellectual Disabilities.” It will appear in a fall issue of Intellectual and Developmental Disability, a journal published by AAIDD.
If your eyebrows raise when I admit to being a card carrying member of The ARC, AAIDD and TASH, ponder no more. A person working on this issue needs all the friends he can get!