Over the course of the election I have had the pleasure of speaking to many Libertarian Party candidates including Libertarian Presidential candidate Jo Jorgensen and Vice-Presidential candidate Spike Cohen.
Prior to both interviews I have posted on our Facebook page that I was looking for questions to ask. As can be assumed I wasn't able to get to them all. Looking back through one in particular stood out I felt I needed to forward on to the campaign and see if they would respond,
Spike Cohen provided a response that is just too important not to share with everyone.
Here was the original question asked:
I'm bringing this question representing a group of about 20k for the wrongfully convicted and they have been asking me what her plan is but I don't see an official answer.
This group particularly has issues with prosecutorial misconduct and issues with plea deals and the amount of time to appeal a charge and prosecution not allowing evidence to come to the table in favor of lining their pockets.
This has been a really hard pressed question and I think we could garner their support with an answer.
Okay, so the main issues this community is facing, and I feel safe to say in this convo my husband is apart of this community, only he has been released from prison for about 6 years now.
- Prosecutorial misconduct Prosecutors and detectives are actively omitting evidence, destroying investigation tapes held with the suspect and then lying on their reports to say that a person admitted to a crime. They are then withholding information in courtrooms in favor of lining their pockets and being able to advance in their jobs.
- The plea deal issue. Many of those wrongfully convicted are being faced with a choice to admit to a crime they did not do and plea guilty in favor of less time, then giving up all rights to appeal later, regardless of what evidence may come up later further proving their innocence. Or they can continue the fight from inside prison, with no resources to (retain) lawyers that may help them, and eventually face a jury that will more than likely convict them anyway
- The appeals system. I know from first hand experience my state only gives 30 days to file an appeal against their case, and again, this is while most of them are in prison, again giving them no access to decent lawyers and slapping them with a public pretender that often times cannot help them out of said situation.
- Cases being reopened. I don't know how much of this applies to the group as a whole, but I know in the case of my husband he won against his case and then the state closed and the reopened it, and that is essentially what screwed him over. But I'm sure that that is a common thing that happens in this.
This system is not only affecting those incarcerated, but it affects men like my husband who was charged at 18 years old and kept in jail without seeing the sunlight for a year.
He was offered a plea deal and told that if it went to trial he would face 20 years and not 6.
We have had his victim come forward to the former police station recanting her story and the police basically told her that because he took the plea that it did not matter.
There is a huge issue in law enforcement and our judicial system, and I know Jo has a plan to end qualified immunity and that is wonderful, but these people are being hurt by this and no other president has even tried to address this issue.
I'm sorry if this is slightly incoherent, I'm horrible with politics and basically any explaining thing but I've tried to write this out the best I could.
Thank you for taking the time to listen -Original name removed for privacy.
Here is how Spike Cohen the Libertarian Vice-Presidential Candidate responded:
Hi [name removed for privacy], and thanks for reaching out. Jo and I are fighting for the rights of the wrongfully accused.
It is a horrific injustice to be punished by government for something you didn't do, even more so when the people who prosecuted you knew that you are innocent.
Among other things, here are the policies that will greatly reduce the number of wrongful convictions:
- End immunity for prosecutors and judges, so that they can be held liable when they are caught railroading defendants.
- End cash bail, which causes so many poor defendants to plea down so they can get out of jail, even if they didn't actually commit the crime.
- End the war on drugs and other victimless crimes, because people who engage in victimless actions shouldn't be subject to criminal action in the first place.
- Require all evidence collected by government to be available to the defense, no exceptions. Any attempt to withhold evidence should be a criminal offense.
- Allow appeals for plea deals and eliminate deadlines for appeals. If evidence comes up years later that proves you didn't do the crime, you should be able to petition the courts to fix that injustice.
- “I am appalled that the United States ranks number one in the world for having the highest percentage of people imprisoned. I am also appalled that the federal government permits police to seize a person’s assets without first convicting them of a crime, and then keep most of the assets seized. This is literally highway robbery. As President, I will use my Constitutional authority to end federal civil asset forfeiture prior to conviction, and pardon persons convicted of non-violent victimless crimes. I will also work with Congress to end the failed War on Drugs and other victimless crime laws.” - Jo Jorgensen
Thank you for your support, and please know that we are on your side!