We the People

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. Politics and civil commentary with community columnist John Eyster.

Exonerated prisoners need & deserve IMMEDIATE support when released!

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John Eyster
Monday, July 22, 2013

Exonerated prisoners need & deserve IMMEDIATE support when released! WHY NOT? Read Dee Hall's update on the exoneration and release of Joseph Frey due to the work of our Wisconsin Innocence Project had NOTHING when released from jail on July 12. WHY NOT?

Late in May, I cited the GOOD WORK of Rock County native, MICHEAL HAHN with our Wisconsin Innocence Project when I posted a reminder of the annual TANK COMPANY Memorial Ceremony during Memorial Day Weekend. Micheal, a vet of Iraq, was the speaker at the Tank Company ceremony. Now, I invite you to review the report of MICHEAL's good work which led to the release of a wrongfully convicted person. My blog post on Sat., May 26 provides you with the original reports on the exoneration of Joseph Frey and information on our Wisconsin Innocence Project. You can use this link to read that post, "TANK COMPANY Memorial Ceremony - SUNDAY (5/26) at 7 pm – Iraq vet, MICHEAL HAHN, speaker.”

Alternatively, YOU might prefer to go directly to Dee Hall's original report on the exoneration of Joseph Frey - you can use this link, "Man's rape conviction overturned after DNA testing."

The headline on a Wisconsin State Journal article online now an by Dee J. Hall, the reporter who covered the original trial which found Joseph Frey innocent of crimes for which he was wrongfully convicted in 1994, demanded my attention. I hope it will demand your attention too. You can read this update report by using this link, “Wrongfully convicted man is grateful but faces uphill battle to survive outside prison.”

Released from Winnebago County Jail on July 12, Hall reports that Joseph Frey “had no money, no identification and nowhere to live.”

Hall quickly puts Frey’s situation into context, “Frey, who was convicted of an earlier sexual assault in Brown County to which he pleaded no contest, now relies on the Innocence Project and others to help him put his life back together after his conviction for the 1991 rape of a UW-Oshkosh student that he didn’t commit was overturned and the charges dropped.

“Had he been released in 2005 — after completing his confinement for the Brown County assault — Frey would have gotten some help transitioning beyond prison life, Bushnell said.

“But because he was innocent of the crime for which he was doing time, she said, Frey was released back out into the world with no support from the state.

“’The unfortunate reality is because Joe was released through an exoneration, the Department of Corrections doesn’t provide any social services like they would for someone who would be released on mandatory release date and would be entering on paper (probation),’ Bushnell said. ‘In those cases, they get a social worker, they help provide them transitional housing, they look into helping them look for jobs or education.’”

I assert that this is a GAP which needs to be filled with all deliberate speed! Hall provides us information about the dire situation for Frey when he was released on July 12, “When he was released earlier this month, Frey had less than a week’s supply of the dozen or so drugs he needs for a degenerative bone disease, blood clots and other health problems. He can’t afford more medication nor the required follow-up visits to the doctor."

She quotes Frey, “I’m transient. I have no health coverage. Nothing.” Frey is staying at the homeless shelter at Grace Episcopal Church in Madison.

Very meaningful to read Frey’s reflection on his situation, “There’s three victims here, the way I see it. The victim was victimized repeatedly in this situation. The public was victimized by their representatives of law enforcement in Winnebago County, and I was victimized. And so far, there’s been very little accountability for that.” I agree. What do YOU think?

I was HOPEFUL when I read, “If he’s lucky, Frey will qualify for the maximum $25,000 that the state of Wisconsin can award to the wrongfully convicted, or $5,000 a year for a maximum of five years. Past efforts to boost that amount — and to provide health care, housing and other services for exonerated prisoners — have been unsuccessful.” I believe we OWE more to persons WRONGFULLY CONVICTED! What do YOU think?

I agree with Frey, “That’s not even minimum wage for one year. I mean, look, it’s nothing. Is the injustice that shallow it could be wiped away like that, so nonchalantly? I don’t think so. I just hope that it changes. Because it’s not right.” What do YOU think?

CONSIDER Hall’s report as to Frey’s attitude and perspective, “Frey insisted he is not bitter about the extra eight years he spent in prison. Self taught in criminal law, Frey said he hopes for a time when he can ‘pay it forward’ and help other inmates get justice.” Talk about FORGIVENESS?!

I hope one of our own representatives in our WI state legislature will introduce legislation to provide IMMEDIATE SUPPORT to every person released due to WRONGFUL CONVICTION and release from incarceration. That should be a MINIMUM. What do YOU think?

Here we go…

Mr. E.

Last updated: 8:25 am Monday, July 29, 2013

John W. Eyster lives in the Edgerton area. He is an adjunct professor assigned with the online/distance education faculty of Viterbo University, LaCrosse. He continues his personal mission supporting democracy/civics education in Wisconsin K-12 schools through Project Citizen, We the People, Discovering Democracy (Milton HS). John is a community blogger and is not a part of The Gazette staff or management.

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