- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 9, 2000

The American criminal justice system is so severely broken that it is not capable of getting the right people in jail and keeping them there.Earlier this month a Maryland state undercover agent, Edward M. Toatley, was murdered. The suspect, Kofi Apea Orleans-Lindsay, "a native of Ghana" according to The Washington Post, is a drug dealer free on probation despite having failed to show up for eight probation appointments, 61 drug tests, and a substance abuse treatment program.For violating his terms of probation, Orleans-Lindsay faces 10 years on one charge and four years on another, but the Maryland Division of Parole and Probation could not get around to picking him up. Now he has killed a policeman. As of this time of writing, he has not been apprehended.

Probation officials are not pleased that a person under their supervision killed an officer. But they plead case overload, not enough money. What, then, is the system doing putting more criminals on probation than the system can supervise?

While Orleans-Lindsay and his many counterparts run free, 200,000 innocents languish in prisons, victims of incompetent or corrupt prosecutors, police and lawyers. Two of them are Christophe Yves Gaynor and Carl H. Graf.

Gaynor coached a skateboard team in Arlington, Va. He took the team to a competition in New York. While there, a team member attempted to purchase drugs. Enraged, Gaynor threatened to tell the boy's parents. But the boy struck first by claiming that Gaynor sexually molested him.

The team knew different, but Gaynor's Arlington trail was marked by many irregularities. Maneuvers prevented defense witnesses from testifying in Gaynor's behalf. The feminist prosecutor sent an innocent person to jail, where he languishes, with no evidence against him except a self-serving accusation by a misbehaving boy.

Graf is a New Hampshire case. He is guilty of befriending a woman's neglected son. According to Graf, when he refused the woman's sexual approaches, she retaliated by charging him with sexually abusing the boy. The only evidence in the case is the accusation.

Graf has been in prison many years. He is not eligible for parole, because he maintains his innocence. In the U.S. criminal justice system, only the guilty can be paroled. Like Kofi Apea Orleans-Lindsay.

There is no more pressing problem for our new president than the breakdown in the American justice system. In Wenatchee, Wash., 25 innocent adults were imprisoned on fabricated child sex abuse charges during 1994-95 for no other reasons than to justify the budget for the local office of Child Protective Services, a division of the Department of Human Resources.

A local pastor, Robert Roberson, and his wife had God's courage to stand up to the witchhunt. He got the story out to columnists, whose articles attracted the interest of investigative reporters and eventually brought in attorneys from the University of Washington Law School's Innocence Project.

Twenty-four of the 25 wrongfully convicted have been released, and the case of the last, Michael Rose, went before the state court of appeals on Nov. 7.

The Wenatchee mayor, the Chelan County sheriff, the Wenatchee police chief, and the detective, Bob Perez, who coerced and framed his victims, have all departed the scene, tarnished but unpunished. But the CPS officials and prosecutors who made possible the gross miscarriage of justice are still in place.

Prosecutor Gary Riesen has fought tooth and claw against court ordered releases by threatening to appeal each case through every step to the state supreme court. This adds years to the incarceration of the innocents. Turning this to his advantage, Mr. Riesen then protected his conviction rate by offering to withdraw his appeals and agree to the releases if each of the wrongfully convicted would admit to one sex offender charge that would be covered by time served.

Many agreed to end their travail, without understanding that the release agreement made them technically a sex offender, a designation that prevents them from regaining their children from foster care.

In Washington, as in Massachusetts with the Amirault case, in New Hampshire with Graf, in Virginia with Gaynor, and in every other state, it is impossible to correct injustice. The "justice system" protects itself to the hilt. Wenatchee innocents gained release by admitting to something they did not do and giving up their children.

Mr. Riesen will not be indicted for wrongful prosecution. Police turn deaf ears to charges from Donna Everett, Mr. Perez's chief child witness, now 16, who says Mr. Perez broke both her arms (reported as a sledding accident) in coercing her to make false charges against Wenatchee adults. The real child abuser has walked away a free man protected by a self-serving "justice system."

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