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tv   America Tonight  Al Jazeera  August 31, 2014 10:00pm-11:01pm EDT

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kids are facing in school and beyond 15 stories, 1 incredible journey >> in this envelope is my life right now... >> edge of eighteen only on al jazeera america >> when the verdict came back and it was guilty on all count, the courtroom erupted in applause. >> but justice can be blindsided when a witness gets it wrong. >> two years on death row. for something i didn't do. >> when cops become the bad guys. >> he physically used his hands, slapped me, choked me. >> conventions are forced. >> 25%, nationwide, on all law. convictions involved forced confessions. >> or when punishment goes too
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far. >> what's your biggest fear. >> landed in prison. an "america tonight" special, reasonable doubt. >> thank for joining us, i am joie chen. our criminal yale justice system depends on checks and balances, punish the guilty while row texting the innocent. but what happens when someone puts a thumb on the scale of justice? our first story looks at witness identification or rather misidentification. it may surprise you that it is the cause of as many as three out of four wrongful convictions. our investigation found that juries almost always convict if there is an eyewitness, even when there is proof the suspect couldn't have done the crime . >> when the verdict came back and it was difficult on all count, the courtroom erupted in applause. give him the gas and kill his ass. >> that's what they said you? >> yeah, i could hear that's snickering and laughing. and everybody thought they had the right man, the police
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department, prosecutor's office. most of the people thought they had their man. >> before prison changed everything. kirk bloodsworth's story was a simple one, raisessed on maryland's eastern shore fishing and crabbing like his father and his father's father before him. bloodsworth left home only to join the marines, he was honorably discharged and had never been in serious trouble with the law until the early hours of august 9th, 1984. he was 22 years old and sound asleep in his cousin's house. >> boom, boom, boom. 2:40. i remember looking at the clock when i was walking to the door. open the door, flashlights shineing in my face, pistols drawn. step outside, mr. bloodsworth you are under arrest for first degree murder of dawn hamilton, you son of a bitch. somebody said. >> nine-year-old dawn hamilton had been brutally raped and murdered just two weeks earlier.
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her body found near this bond in a wooded area. >> stuck my head in the police car and that was the last time i seen cambridge, maryland for eight years, 10 months, and 19 days. >> that's the time you were in prison? >> yep. two years on death row. for something i didn't do. >> baltimore county police put out a sketch of the suspect based on the description given by two little boys, who saw dawn walk in to the woods with a man who offered to help her. the cops used a kid an array of noses, mouths and eyes to help the children describe the face. it sounds to me like mr. potato head? >> it is. it's an random arbitrary box of eyes, ears, noses, faces. they start out with like the facial outline then add the hair, then eyebrows and a nose. >> using the crude tools of the kid. the kids helped to assemble an image they didn't think looked exactly like the suspect. >> they asked the kids, what did
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the mustache look like. they said it was a fu manchu type mustache. the police never added it to the composite. >> but a woman who lived in a complex bloodsworth briefly visited saw the drawing on tv and she called the cops. >> she just called in and said the composite looked like me. >> bloodsworth's picture was quickly plastered all over the news. his person walk playe perp walkn understandless loop. by the they saw him in a lineup. anyone who watched tv that week in baltimore knew what he looked like. >> everybody in court said they watched me on television. the entire weekend before i was in the lineup. >> but do you remember the lineup? >> i do. the two little boys never identified me in the lineup. it's not until two weeks later they called the police and said, look, it's really number 6. their parents. and that's the position i stood in. >> and there were three other witnesses who picked him out. >> the
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witnesses were half hearted and just mistaken. i am not -- i never tried to say that anybody was lying, they just made a mistake. >> you were picked out. >> a photo array i was picked out of. >> photo array you were picked out of. these witnesses really believed -- >> well, i think that they believed with a little help. i think they had a little help there. >> not a shred of physical evidence linked bloodsworth to the crime. five defense witnesses testified he couldn't have been there. but the testimony from the eyewitnesses, who identified him bloodsworth as the man who took little dawn hamilton in the woods, was enough to convict him. bloodsworth spent nearly nine years in prison. two of them on death row. >> from the time i was arrested until the moment i was released, i told anyone and everyone that i was an innocent man. i used to sign my correspondence that way. respectively submitted, kirk
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noble bloodsworth. a.p. m. an innocent man. >> an innocent man. every single letter. >> in prison, bloodsworth became a vo rare us leader and by chance he came a across a british crime story about a prisoner exonerated by what was, in 1992, a novel approach. it was science that saved you. >> it was. in the end, it was dna. die oxi robin nucleic acid. >> bloods work became the first person in the united states exonerated by dna testing. which found that despite what all the witnesses said, kirk bloodsworth didn't kill dawn hamilton. >> and i was sitting in my cell, i just came out of the yard and it was in the end of april . and a guard stuck a post-it note in a cell. i will never forget it. it said urgent, call your attorney, urgent.
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and he goes, kirk, you are irrelevant sent man, you are innocent. that. when are you going get me out of here? >> the dna evidence proved not only that bloodsworth didn't do it, but that another prisoner was the real killer. kimberly rough never, more closely resembled the little boys' original description, with that fu manchu mustache. kirk bloodsworth's case is one the baltimore city and county police declined to talk about now. 21 years after he was exonerated. but an hour south his name is a reminds tore other maryland police and prosecutors about what can go wrong. >> i will tell you there is no police officers no, prosecutors no judge who wants to punish the wrong person. >> a former prosecutor, carlos acosta now lease the internal affairs unit of maryland's third largest police department. prince georges county. >> how good are pimas witnesses? >> not as good as they
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think . >> acosta pressed his department to change investigation beginning with procedures that started kirk bloodsworth down the road to prison. in late april of this year, prince georges county p.d. became one of the very first in the country to do away with the traditional six-pack photo array. the kind that was used in kirk bloodsworth's case. in favor of a sequential photo lineup in which the witness considers each possible suspect one at a time . >> now we give it to them as six individual photos and we ask them to flip through them, look at all of them. and make a decision about each one as they go through the photographs. and to take their time. >> homicide detective bernie nelson says that helps insure people pick the right suspect. not just the one who looks right compared to the others. acosta says officers can unintentionally influence a witness. >> even if they are honest and describe plus, they know what the right answer is.
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they may give off some sort of unconscious cue, they may get excited when you are about to pick the right person, they may be dejected when you don't. >> so he implemented a double blind process where neither the detective nor the witness knows if there is a suspect in the photo array. >> if you give that photo array to a detective who has no idea what the right answer is, the studies show we'll get a truer result. >> do you believe that what happened to you couldn't happen to a guy today? >> no. i don't believe it. depends on the jurisdiction. you can still send a person to death row in the united states by circumstantial evidence. >> kirk bloodsworth doesn't get back to the water often anymore. instead, he's an activist. he was instrumental in getting maryland to repeal its death penalty last year. >> witness identification is one of the largest reasons why wrongful convictions happen in the united states.
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>> and he wants reforms like p.g. county's to become more widespread. >> i tell people if you are ever arrested don't say anything. shut your mouth. cover your face. you see all that on tv, people hiding their face. there is a reason why they do that. and you know, -- >> why? >> because somebody could misidentify them and it's happened so many dag gone times. we are not omnipotent. we are not infallible. we make mistakes. if this could happen to me, my intellect tells me that it can happen to anybody. when we return, police get a false confection from an innocent person. >> i kept denying it, they began to get aggressive. slap me, choke me. al jazeera america presents, borderland labor day marathon >> we're all following
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>> now available, the new al jazeea america mobile news app. get our exclusive in depth, reporting when you want it. a global perspective wherever you are. the major headlines in context. mashable says... you'll never miss the latest news >> they will continue looking for survivors... >> the potential for energy production is huge... >> no noise, no clutter, just real reporting. the new al jazeera america mobile app, available for your apple and android mobile device. download it now i think that al jazeera helps connect people in a way they haven't been connected before. it's a new approach to journalism. this is an opportunity for americans to learn something. we need to know what's going on around the world. we need to know what's going on in our back yard and i think al jazeera does just that. why would anyone confess for
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a crime they didn't commit? it may seem strange, but there is growing evidence that it's not a rare thing. in fact, in new york state, where our next story takes place, half of all cases of wrongful convictions involve a false confession. half. "america tonight's" sarah hoye has the story of a man forced to confess for a crime he didn't commit ? >> shimone johnson was roller skater with friends when she was killed. >> two detectives came. one by the name of detective. [ inaudible ] i was sleeping and my sisters opened the door for them. and they came straight back in the apartment. >> that morning, sunday moses was dragged out of his brooklyn apartment. it would be more than 18 years before he returned home. >> i am 19 years old at the time. and i don't know why they are there. i don't know why they are taking me. i have no clue. and it happened so abruptly that
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no one questioned where i was going. >> we traveled with moses to the scene of the crime. a public housing complex in the process of being demolished. >> this is the first time you have been here? what is going through your head right now? >> like out of body experience. because they are telling me that i was here and that i did something. >> police accused moses of shooting the little girl. >> they take me to the precinct and when i arrived there they sit me at some cubicles with a detective, and he explains why i am there. when he told me that, i actually felt a little relieved. >> relieved? >> yeah, i felt relieved in a sense that i know that i had nothing to do and i knew nothing about what they were questioning me for. >> moses thought he would soon be back with his family. but it was only the beginning of a grueling 12-hour interrogation. >> as time went on and i kept
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denying it, they began to get aggressive. i guess after i denied it for several hours, they got tired. and this is when detective starsell owe came in to the room and he began to physically assault me. >> what does that mean? >> meaning that he physically used his hands, slapped me, choked me, and the rest of the officers held me so i you wouldn't lash back at him. >> the detective was legendary at the time. known for he had making arrests and getting convictions in the crime-scared brooklyn. in 1995, the year moses was charged with murder the city's violent crimes took a nose drive attributed to new aggressive policing. the murder of four year olds shimone johnson outraged the community and sunday moses was the crime are you suspect. >> so that point, you know, my
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minds kind of went in to survival mode. >> did you feel that your life was in danger? >> yes, yes, i did, because at that point, they weren't acting like detectives. they were actually acting like a gang. and i am saying that they wouldn't accept anything outside of a confession and now that i am realizing that, so that, with not knowing the law, of course, i said, well, i'll tell them what they want to hear and i can prove that that was a lie. >> detectives wrote up a confession for moses with their versions of events. to put an end to his nightmare, moses signed it. i have to ask the question, why in the world would you confess to a crime you didn't do? a murder, no less. >> because i never thought that i would get convicted. i just -- the only thing that i prayed for was that the right
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people will hear it. >> but the convention with his signature would prove tour far more influential than any other piece of evidence in court. >> i mean, whoever heard of false confessions, that someone would confess for a crime that they didn't commit? that's what everyone believes. >> lonnie is president of a public relations firm. after playing a role in a number of high-profile wrongful convictions cases i founded false confessions, a public advocacy organization. >> 50% of the exonerations in new york state involved a false confession. >> 50%? >> 50%. 25% nationwide. and all wrongful convictions involving a false confession. it's very common. and police are encouraged to get confessions. it is the most compelling piece of evidence you can to get a jury. and almost always results in a conviction, false or otherwise and once it gets not prosecutor's and before a young and jury, it's over. >> he receives stacks of letters from inmates looking for help. >> what about the guys that are in prison now, these letters here?
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i am 33 years old, i have been in cars rate today 15 years, i have maintains that maicon fence was a false one. shawn harris wrote me a letter, saying please, healthy. 33 years old, 15 years in prison. that is who is in prison. these are full of their legal cases. these are information about their families, and about their indications and evidence of innocence, that's what they sends me every day. >> he says interrogations should be recorded. >> in sundae moses occasion, we needed to see the police officer, we needed to see when he choked sundae and hit him to get his confession, that's what we need to see. a jury needs to city that. anything less should not be allowed in court. >> currently less than half of all states require interrogations to be recorded . after seeing sundae moses confession a injury convicted him of murder and sentenced him to 16 year old to life. >> i was in shock, it was
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actually other people crying. and i couldn't say much. i am a very strong killed person. but just for a second, suicide flashed through my mind. >> moses' mother, elaine, was beside herself at the thought of her youngest of eight children, spending his life in prison. >> i suffer a lot. i went through a lot of illness, a lot of surgery. i went through depression. the depression was so bad i wanted to go in the subway and jump in the train tracks. that's how bad it was. >> moses began serving his intense, but in 2013, lewis the detective who got moses to confess, became the target of an investigation himself. accused of lying, cheating, and other misconduct. his actions have tarnished more than 50 cases. which the district attorney is
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now reviewing. moses' was one of them. attorney ron coul took his caseo bono. >> no physical evidence whatsoever. no blood no, fibers, no hair, ballistics, bullet traces, powder residue, not a physical that rid of evidence to connect him with the crime in any way. so we began to investigate the case, and the first thing we did is to talk to both of those so-called eyewitnesses. and these are people who had no reason to lie at the time. and no reason to lie now. one of them was the cousin of the little girl who was killed. the other was the close friend of the mother of the little girl who was killed and they both told us that son i was nony was not e person. >> in least new evidence and the d.a.'s review, moses went before the parole board to proclaim his innocence. the new york state board of
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patrol released him. >> welcome home, man. >> in december, just daze before his 38th birthday, sundae moises made his way back home and in to the arms of those who never stopped believing in his innocence . >> it felt like a dream because so much is running through my head. i am getting my freedom. and i am so happy because i than freedom is basic to life. you know. if you take away someone's freedom, they almost have no reason to live. almost like coming back from death. so i really don't take anything for granted now. >> moses isn't entirely free. the brooklyn district attorney's office conviction review unit is still looking at his case. neither the district attorney nor the detective, now retired, would comment for this report. >> my name was dragged through the mud. my family was put through a lot of things. and my son grew up without a father.
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he's now the age that i got locked up at. but also, and all of this it seems like the victim was forgotten. there is still a mom out there who lost her child, who is looking at all of this stuff in the media and she continues to blame me despite everything that happens, she continues to blame me. so not only am i not vindicated by the systems, but i am not vicinity indicated by the victim's mom and the victim's family. >> he is a strong young man. but when he ever get his life back. will he ever be the same again? i prayer for a long life that i am going live to see this happen. and i know god will keep me. and i will see his name cleared. >> for now, moses has one focus,
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to clear his name and move forward. >> and i am looking forward to the day that i will be exonerated and cleared of this crime so that i can just move on with my life. next, evidence tampering. one woman, a chemist, working for a state crime lab has tainted spine hally 40,000 cases. when reasonable doubt returns. >> fault lines labor day marathon the true cost of cheap labor >> nothing can be worse than this people burnt to ash... >> horrendous conditions... traffic labor on us bases... management stealing wages... exploited children put to work... >> how many of you get up at 4 or 5 o'clock in the morning to go out to the fields? don't miss our award winning series fault lines labor day marathon only on al jazeera america
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>> al jazeera america >> this is the very tail section it was burning when we got here >> unbiased reporting... >> the violence has continued >> the violence has continued just a couple of miles from here >> in depth coverage... >> we've got a military escort allowing us to feel a further than everyone else... >> real global perspective >> this was clearly an attack against them... >> from around the world, to the issues right here at home >> ...shouldn't been brought here in the first place... >> we're not here to take over >> real stories... real people... real understanding... >> where you scared when you hear the bombs? >> al jazeera america real... news...
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al jazeera america presents, edge of eighteen >> my heart is racing so fast >> standing at a crossroads... >> my parents have their plan. i'm gonna do what god asks me to do before what they ask me to do... >> can a family come together? >> do you think that you can try and accept me for me? >> life changing moments... >> my future is in my hands right now... >> from oscar winning director alex gibney, a ground breaking look at the real issues facing american teens on, the edge of eighteen only on aljazeera america welcome back to reasonable doubt. our criminal justice system relies on evidence to prove guilt or innocence. our next story is about a woman who turned that process on its head, a state crime lab worker who tampered with the evidence, causing the guilty to go free. sending the innocent to prison.
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"america tonight's" lori jane glee law has the story . >> despite her quiet voice and slight stature, the woman sitting in this massachusetts courtroom managed to cause one of the biggest scandals in the state's criminal justice history. she's annie, a former state chemist who helped police by analyzing evidence for the presence of drugs. >> what goes through your mind when you hear the name annie duken. >> it brings significant disappointment and good, hard work by good working people was thrown out the window because of her activities. >> her job at the state health lab required her to identify and weigh samples like haren and cocaine. for nearly 10 years she did her job with lots of praise and little oversight. effecting the cases of approximately 40,000 people. but it would eventually come to light that the star chemist, not only lied about her credentials,
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she tampered the with the drugs. court records show she handled drug samples without supervision, forged the in additions of other chemists and intentionally contaminated samples. sometimes she just eyeballed them, guessing what drugs they might be. instead of testing them. plymouth county district attorney tim cruz remembers the day he learned hundreds of convictions in his county were suddenly tainted. >> i knew we had a problem. these drug cases are very serious case with his very violent criminals and i think i was right to be worried about it. i have an obligation as the other d.a.s do to make sure our convictions are based upon good, solid evidence and to make sure this sought of stuff does not taint our convictions. >> this is where you keep all the cases of hers? right, this is the duken room. these are all cases. this whole file cabinet duken cases. every single one is is a case or file that has to do with her?
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>> kwre6789 and she iyes, and tt district court cases. he assigned extra staff to research every case she touched since thousand three. meanwhile, defendants attorneys fielded calls from clients who wonder if she had tampered with evidence in their cases. it was almost overwhelming. >> ann works for the agency that defends indigent criminal in her cases, she says duken's actions convinced many of her clients to plead guilty. >> we are faced with mandatory sentences in drug cases. for increasingly larger amounts of drugs, inning increasingly businesser sentences. there are people who plead guilty to cut their losses, even when they may not be guilty. >> michelle devlin says duken tampered with her case and her future. so how old are you in this picture? >> i am 19 here. and this is actually a few
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days before i was arrested and as you can see i am high on heroin and it's disgust to go look at. >> she was a drug addict, arrested in a house where police found heroin in thousand nine. when detectives sent the drugs to the lab, duken tested them. according to her, the drugs weighed just enough to bump devlin's misdemeanor possession charge to a felony trafficking charge. which carried a possible 10-year prison sentence. >> do you think annie duken tampered with your drugs? >> yes, do i. >> what do you think she did to the drugs that were in your case? >> i believe that she added weight to it. it makes sense when the news came out saying that she tampered with weights and our guy had said that it was under. >> devlin says she feared risking a trial and the possibility of years behind bars, so she plead odd to a lesser charge and got probation. but it wasn't until three years later that she learned about duken. >> i had heard about it and you
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know, i had even said out loud i was like, oh, my god, imagine if this was my case and then the next day i got a call from my lawyer and he told me that it was my case and that i would be able to go back and hopefully get it thrown out. >> devlin's attorney fought to have the original plea reversed and won. but those charges remain on her record. >> this is what people will see when they do a background check on you? >> right. for apartments, for jobs, anything. >> so even though it says dismissioned, dismissed, dismissed you think this is enough for somebody to feel worried about hiring you? >> it just looks so awful. i don't see anyone like thinking, oh, well, it's dismissed, like, that means she was innocent. >> what do you say to people who are going to look a at this and say, look, you chose to do the drugs, you chose to put yourself in that situation, how can you blame someone like annie duken when you were there. >> there were times that i broke the law obviously using drugs.
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and buying drugs. but for these charges i wasn't. i shouldn't have got the crime. i didn't want to have that weight on me. if they want to be fair. it wasn't fair. >> fairness is exactly what the aclu says it is now fighting for. >> people have a strong mistrust of the criminal justice system and of the police, people feel like the system is not fair, it's slanted against them. >> as it stands, unless the prosecution decides to reverse its decision to prosecute, anyone convicted based on duken's evidence must hire a lawyer if they would like to reopen their daze, the aclu argues this long and costly process is unfair and puts an undue burden on defendants. >> she went to jail, but they left the convictions stands. that's not american. that's not the way the systems works. you don't get to cheat and win. and i think that is really at the core of this. that those convictions shouldn't
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stand because they were based in fraud. >> the aclu's carl williams has asked the massachusetts supreme court to vacate all drug convictions based on annie's testimony. >> i think it is fair to say that the 40,000 cases should be dismissed. really what we are asking is that the shoe be on the other foot. that prosecutors be in the same situation they were in the beginning. if they can prove a case against an individual, go ahead and take the case and prove it. but if they can't, let it go away. >> if that happens, do you think ultimately there will be people that are actually getting off the hook? >> i think that's the way you can say it: but will it be fair? i think it will be fair. >> it's a terrible idea. >> what's a better idea? >> better idea is doing what we are doing. individually putting the hours in to pain stake -- the painstaking hours of going through the files and making sure that we can keep some of these convictions. >> how realistic is it to go back through every single case and actually get things done in a timely manumaleuna manner?
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and in a cost effective way. >> cost effective is an interesting phrase, because what's the cost of a homicide, what's the cost of another drug crime. >> district attorney cruz remembers the case of donte hood because of the scandal he was released early prison and later was accused of killing a man. >> and the allegations are and the indictments are, the murder indictments say he shot charles evans three times in the chest with a firearm. he should have been in jail. i think that the vast majority, the vast, vast majority of individuals that have been involved in annie's cases are certainly guilty of the crimes that they were alleged to have done and that they were in some instances convicted and in some instances that they pled guilty to. >> michelle devlin may be one of the victims, but she admits she was guilty of being a drug addict. today she says she's cleaned up her life. >> once he was born i -- everything changed.
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i -- i really see like the world differently now. and i am not selfish like i was before. and my life is just all about him now . >> with the worth of her son patrick, she's hopeful that she will find a fresh start and leave memories of her olds life and the case in the past. when we return, should a child be sentenced to life in prison? >> i heard the word life but i didn't understand that meant i was going to die in prison.
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two years ago in a landmark decision, the supreme court ruled no minor can be sentence today mandatory life in prison without parole. but it turns out there are about 2,000 prisoners in the united states who are locked u were los juveniles before that ruling leaving them in legal limbo.
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now a story of a young man now hoping for a second chance. >> in october 1990, 3 members of chicago's gangster disciples set out to settle a score with a rival gang. the youngest of the group, just two months past his 14th birthday, was a boy named a dal foadolfodavis. >> i hear a lot of people always saying the gangs, gangs, gangs by my deft nay was written when i was born in to a chaotic family. being born in to that as many other kids get born in to it every day, it's like i -- our life is already written for us. >> in the turf war that followed two, rival gang members were shot dead. although it was never proven that davis even fired a gun, he was tried as an adult and convicted of double murder. the law was clear and uncompromising. if you are part of a group that commits a murder, you are a murderer. the sentencing rules were just as unforgiving. the double homicide required the judge to impose the harshest of
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sentences, life without the possibility of parole. the 14-year-old boy was sentenced to life in prison. [applause] >> the message today to every criminal gang praying on the innocent is clear, we mean to put you out of business, to break the backs of your organization, to put you away for a very long time. >> the '90s in chicago, vicious drug wars overwhelmed the city and the tough on crime mentality thrived. adolfo davis' case barely caused a ripple. >> i heard the word life but i didn't know that meant i was going to die in prison. >> 23 years after the night of violence that put him away, davis sits behind bars at maximum security state correctional center in crest hill, illinois. now his case is at the center of a nationwide movement to rethink the juvenile justice system and right old wrong.
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>> i see people walk out of here every day. so i am always going to have hope. you know, that my day will come. >> in the summer of 2012, davis found a new reason for hope in the case called miller re alabama the u.s. supreme court issued a land more ruling. mandatory life without parole sentences for juveniles were declared unconstitutional. the question wasn't whether kids could be locked up for life, that according to the supreme court, is still permissible. the real question, was whether or not it was mandatory. or whether judges and juries should be allowed to consider mitigating factors, like a pen's role in a crime or a person's upbringing. patricia sun works for loyola's center for juvenile law and policy and is adolfo's attorney. >> no court ever considered the abuse, all the characteristics that come with youth. the facts of the offense, the
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specific role that they played in the offense. >> on this points, the u.s. supreme court was clear, a child's circumstances matter. and it's cruel and unusual punishment for impose mandatory life sentences on them. >> the question before the illinois court is whether it applies retroactively. that means whether it applies to all of these old cases. >> adolfo's fate is now in the hands of the illinois supreme court. where he's making the case that the new ruling does apply to old cases. and that he deserves a resentencing. if he is successful think it will open the door for 100 other cases in the state. >> so illinois is being watched, a couple of courts have come down on the side retro activity. a couple of courts have come counsel on the side that miller isn't retroactive. so ultimately this is an issue about how much we want to undo wrong that we did in the 1990s. >> it used to be a vibrant community. >> father dave kelly met a young adolfo davis when he was first
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locked up at 14, fairly 5 feet tall and just over 100 pounds. >> what was your first impression of him? do you remember? >> scared. but he was a strong little guy. wouldn't one there was a level of fear of what this was all going mean. >> kelly learned of his troubled home life, an absent father and drug-addicted mother. adolfo's grandmother, fanny may davis game his primary caregiver. between his sick husband, disabled son and other grandchildren. davis' grandmother struggled to provide support and supervision. >> my gran grandmother took carf me and everybody else, you know, but she couldn't keep an eye on me a lot, so it led me to the streets. >> davis' first brush with the law came when he was just nine years old. >> i was hungry. this little girl came out of the store with a bag and i snatched the bag of food because i was hungry, she held onto the bag but she
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dropped 75-cent and $3 in food statement thes and i picked it up and we want to the restaurant to eat foot and that's where the police caught me eating food. >> desperate people do srez tk*ez pratt things, he grew out side of the house and and more because of the chaos in the house there wasn't food and things that little kids need. so he founded it out on the sued. as he got older he start the hanging out with older guys in the gang and they took care of him because he was a likable kid. >> they gave me a roof over my head i was eating and i was getting $350 a week for looking out for the police at first. so i am like, man, this is -- it was like heaven for me. >> davis' unstable family life was well documented by the illinois department of children and family services. and according to court treatmentdocuments, the juvenilt acknowledged that he had fallen through the cracks of the child welfare says testimony but that didn't stop him being sentence to adult court. prosecutors argued he could have
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stood there with his hands in his pockets and is still guilty of first mood. in 1993, a injury di jury did fs guilty of double murder. no matter the circumstance the court was required to give him a manned store life sentence. >> how long did it take to process that you were going to be here for the rest of your life? >> honestly, it's when i went to. [ inaudible ] residents center. >> so we are not talking an hour, we are taking days. >> years. years. i was in my 20s. >> okay. adolfo tried to navigate prison life the only way he knew. he stuck to his gang. misconduct eventually landed him in the correctional center. at the age of 21, he was entering four years in isolation. >> and it's like a reality suckk in, everything slowed down and my life just hit me like, bam. >> what happened? >> i was able to think. i was able to clear my head of
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all of the false realities that i done fed myself throughout the years. >> jill stevens was adolfo's therapist during his entire time in isolation. and of all the prisoners she counseled over the years, she says something about adolfo stood out. >> he had this positive, good seeming core, despite that really horrible background and upbringing. and i think most people would feel like you would need to be a pretty heinous, remorseless person to be locked up for your entire life without the chance to even go before a parole board to see if -- what they think of you. it boggles my mind that anyone would choose to use illinois' limited resources to keep adolfo davis in prison for more than he's already been in prison. >> what's your biggest fear? >> dieing in prison. >> why?
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>> because it's -- i don't want this to be the last thing i see, you know, there is a whole beautiful world out there and me dieing in here is like a nightmare. >> there is no way you can reopen all these cases for resentencing, you cannot recreate due process of law to cases that are decades old. >> many victims of violent crime are taking a stand against the notion that old indications could now be reopened. jennifer bishop half jenkins has led victims rights effort nationwide motivate booed a personal experience, her pregnant system and brotherly were violently murdered by a juvenile the same year davis was arrested think. she said the thought of their case being reopened is frightening. >> i was trauma tieded by the thought of that offenser being released and having to face him again. going through two years of the legal proceedings in his case over definite
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devastatingly overwhelming. >> i think the crime, the death of who people is horrific. my hard goes out to the families. but all of the punishment of adolfo davis will not help family or those families. that's the punitive system we are apart of. >> the illinois supreme court will decide adolfo's fate in the coming months, he's already served 23 years in prison, with time off for good behavior, he could be resen telephoness and released as early as next year. >> what's the first thing you would want do if you get out? >> go to disney lands. aim serious. i am honest. >> i was to be a kid. way. i want to do things that i was not able to do, you know. >> so you think about going to disney land? >> i was to do things like that and see things, the things that i was going to -- i was going to a museum as a kid but i was going there to steal so i didn't
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pay attention to the exhibit, but now i want to go there and just take in the things that i missed. >> what do you think it will be like if you ever get out and going back and adjusting to the outside? >> i think every day scary. because it's like, you know how you never been to prison. so when you out there and you like i don't want to go to prison, all the terror that you feel trying to come to prison, it's like reverse for me. like this is all i know. >> if he was leased, adolfo davis will walk in to a world that in some ways has been completely transformed and inize is exactly the same. the positive rate in washington park where he grew up was the highest in 1990. and remains so today. and the streets are still filled with hungry kids doing desperate things just to survive. but at least now the courts will have to listen to their stories before passing judgement. >> when reasonable doubt returns.
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a rare turn around story for a place known as america's most dangerous city. oscar winning director alex gibney talks about his ground breaking new series edge of eighteen >> these cameras that we gave them. are not recording devices, they're story telling devices >> a powerful portrait of american kids... >> there are so many unexpected stories... >> exploring their hopes, fears, and dreams... >> it's a moment when they're about to be on their own, but not quite ready to be... >> and the realities of modern teenage life... >> these are very vivid human stories... >> talk to al jazeera with alex gibney, only on al jazeera america
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camden, new jersey has for years held the dubious title of america's most dangerous city. but a year ago the town did something radical. it fired its entire police force which was riddled with crumbs and absenteeism.
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now crime rights have dropped by more than 25%. "america tonight's" adam may goes camden to find out just how they did it. >> put the knife down or i will tase you? >> a camden police officer confront booed a woman hiding in the shower with a 12-inch knife. for police here the dangers of the job are still very real. but nothing like it used to be. >> shootings, homicides in the alley up here, there was a homicide, there was actually multiple -- a shoot in this store right behind us. >> there is a lot of crime rate in this area? >> a salutabsolutely. >> it's hard to imagine because it looks clean. >> it's very different. he walks the beat in the fair few neighborhood. >> all down for the summer? >> newly required, he's almost one of 400 officers now on patrol in america's most dangerous city. last year, camden dismantled its
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police department and brought in new blood. their orders, engage in real community policing. more boots on the ground, eight-hour patrol shifts on foot. making arrests like one more common . so how does actually walking this square reduce crime? how does that work? >> as opposed to being in a vehicle walking helps drastically. if i was in a vehicle i wouldn't spend much time if the square, pass through it like it's been done a million times before prior to the camden police department changing over. >> since the reforms there has not been a single shooting in york ship square. >> we know who lives here, who doesn't live here. and we see the same people all the time inside here playing with their kids, that's what it was designed for. >> the city has also introduced a new state of the art survey lent system. more than 100 live streaming day. >> we have mobile beach, walking beach. these officers are doing
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something similar but through a camera. >> orlando, camden's new assistants police chief says the cameras are not only help solve crimes, like this shooting a few weeks ago, but police are also using them to predict crimes. what is known as the broken window theory of policing. we look for those things that are indicative of crime, so when we see people, conduct themselves maybe in a way that would suggest that they are about for fight. rather than waiting for a fight to breakout, we want to be in front of it. so whether it's our nateing in public, there is littering or some other things that are creating a public safety nuisance, not just crime, but a nuisance for that neighborhood. we want to be out in front of it. if all tack the little things, it certainly impacts the bigger things and we certainly believe that. if we were to use the cameras for that needle in the haystack type of thing where you just waited for that one shooting alone, then they would, you know, the impact would be minimal. >> because you would still have the shooting. >> absolutely.
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what we want to do is be out in front of it. those things that are indicative of crimes. >> camden county police are taking their extensive network of camera dues a whole new level. now launching what they call a virtual neighborhood watch, it will allow residents to tap in to these cameras. a first of its kind program in the nation. >> i can access a camera, so i can catch the playground. and if there is a group of individuals that are displaying suspicious behavior, we can zero in on that. >> brian morton coaches little league as a park in north camden. the park used to be a haven for prostitution and drugs. now surveillance cameras watch children at play. >> it's playing baseball and taking their first swing on the swing what, can be more natural. so we a rib attribute that to this new surveillance. >> do you think it your phone. >> yeah, that's the cool thing, those of us connected to the league and other community groups have the ability to log
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in to the virtual camera system. >> a few hundred camden residents, all screened in advance, have been given access to the interactive community alert network. known as ican. tips are anonymous and users are empowered to move the ca cameras, even zoom? >> a very good police officer will never know that neighborhood as well as the residents themselves. they know all the historical relationships, the things that go on in the neighborhood when we are not there. they are able to put that in to perspective for us. and help us help them police their neighborhood. >> since enacting all these changes, camden police report a 25% drop in overall violent crime. homicides down 30%, rapes down more than 50%. aggravated assaults down by nearly a quarter. but still, there are some detractors. the police call their strategy community policing. what do you call it? >> community terrorizing. you know, it's pushing the
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community, provoking them, creating a hostile environment. >> he is an activist here in camden, he's lost trust in the local police force. and says officers are under a lot of pressure to perform so their tactics are often heavy handed. >> there is a lot of complaints against the police office and their tactics and how they have harassed young people. we get a law -- a lawyer that's looking for people who have been stopped and frisked illegally and stuff like that to try to challenge and push back that. they stop people that don't have records and harass them and put them in to a lot of trumped up stuff. we have that. it's a negative. >> one thing everyone agrees on, camden's crime problem is not just about law enforcement. jobs here are scarce and poverty runs generations deep. >> oh, he loved it. he loves it. >> but there are signs of
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change, police interacting with people, working together to make the city safer. camden was named the most violent city in america. >> uh-huh. >> you work here. what's it like to watch the change? >> i personally, you know, think it's outstanding to watch it from when we came here until now, i see the difference and that name i hope goes away very soon for camden. that's i hope shared by many in camden. as we have seen, many of the pillars are our criminal justice system are subject to reasonable doubt, and can no longer be taken for granted. justice hangs in the balance. thanks for watching. i am joie chen. ♪ ♪ >> an eye opening america tonight special report. >> have you ever seen anybody get shot? >> one year later, correspondent christof putzel returns to the streets of chicago. >> i don't like walk out no more... >> why is that? >> a lot of shooting and stuff... >> a community still struggling
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against violence. >> i did something positive... >> have people lost hope? >> this is a grown man that shot a little kid. >> or have citizens made a difference? >> glad that somebody that's at least standing up and caring about us man... >> america tonight only on aljazeera america >> this is al jazeera america. i'm david schuster in new york with a look at today's top stories. in northern iraq a day of advances against the islamic state group thanks in part to both u.s. and iranian war planes. russia and ukraine have now swapped soldiers but this is the only cooperation as the fighting continues. and libyan militia takes over the evacuated u.s.

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