tv Criminal Justice and Wrongful Convictions CSPAN August 21, 2016 11:58pm-1:01am EDT
when we use that term nouveau rich, we're saying you don't make it. you don't quite fit in. brian: our guest is nancy isenberg. she is a historian. her book is called "white trash." the 400-year untold history of class in america. thank you very much. nancy: thank you. for free transcripts, or to give us your comments about this program, visit us at qanda.org. also available as c-span podcasts. announcer: if you enjoyed this
week's interview with nancy isenberg, here are some of the programs you might enjoy. a book about how winning the powerball lottery change the life of the west virginia man. a photographer talks about his book in the shadow of our and also ron churn out on his biography of alexander hamilton, the basis for the broadway musical. washington journal, live every day with news and policy issues that impact you. up, tom fitton. the, the director for center for civic learning and whichment will look at
candidate millennials are likely to support. washington journal, beginning at monday morning. join the discussion. >> as a teenager, jarrett adams was convicted of sexual assault. he served 10 years in prison before being exonerated with the help of the wisconsin innocence project. now he is an attorney, representing needy defendants and fighting wrongful convictions. he spoke at the city club of cleveland for about an hour. >> good afternoon. i am a partner at baker and hostetler. it is my pleasure to introduce you to today's speaker, jarrett adams. i serve as the president of the northeast ohio chapter of the
american constitution society. acs is a nationwide network of progressive lawyers, judges, students, and professors all dedicated to the promise of our constitution and to the values that it embodies. civil rights and liberties, genuine democracy, and access to justice. , ourthe past few years chapter has hosted various on justice generally and the problem of wrongful convictions specifically. theexample, we heard from ohio attorney general and his ofe, nancy, about the myths our criminal justice system and how they produce wrongful convictions. to be clear, they are both republicans, which shows this issue is not partisan. last year, we heard from ricky jackson, a clevelander who spent 39 years of his life behind
bars, several on death row, for a crime he did not commit. at last year's convention in washington dc, i was fortunate enough to meet jared adams, who has experience in common with ricky jackson. old when was 17 years he was sentenced to 28 years in a maximum security prison after being convicted of sexual assault. after serving nearly 10 years and filing multiple appeals, he was exonerated with the help of the wisconsin innocence project. rather than be overcome by bitterness, mr. adams used the injustice he endured to become an advocate for the underserved. he enrolled in loyola school of law after graduating from roosevelt university with high honors. , mr. adams graduated
from law school and started a fellowship with the honorable anne claire williams on the seventh court of appeals, the same court that reversed his decision because of his lawyer'' iciencies. shortly after, mr. adams and and de day established -- antoine housing, job care, training, computer skills, finance classes, mentoring and more. this past year, mr. adams passed the bar and joined the new york innocence project as one of its attorneys, serving our profession and our society by freeing wrongfully convicted men and women.
since 1989, innocence projects across the country have wrongfully342 convicted inmates in 37 states, 70% of whom are people of color. accomplishments can be considered extraordinary, part of mr. adams' story is not unique. more thanto a study, 40% of those sentenced to death between 1973 and 2004 are likely innocent. men of color are disproportionately represented in that figure. it begs there is questions. suspects ensure that are truly innocent until proven guilty? what role can attorneys play in creating a justice system that is truly fair for all? the conversation on race,
equality, and america's criminal justice system is an ongoing one nationwide and here at the city club. ladies and gentlemen, members and friends of the city club, please join me in welcoming jarrett adams. [applause] mr. adams: all right. thank you all for joining us here today. mike, thank you for a great introduction. as i am starting to get more speaking opportunities, the introduction is the best part. you hear some of the great things about you. thank you so much. it is something me and mike worked on for over a year, trying to get me to come to tell my stories. i am thankful for the club for having me here today. my story began when i was 17 years old.
i thought it was a good idea to go to a college party in wisconsin, which is like an hour and a half outside of chicago. it changed the trajectory of my life forever, you know? 17 years old, all in the name of fun. beyears old, many of you may , getting close to it -- we do things without thinking about the repercussions. in my case, just going to a party ended with me being accused of a sexual assault i did not commit. like most 17 years old, making out, sex, drinking, smoking pot, that comes with being a teenager. with me, that also came with a false accusation that changed everything. the reality for me was totally different after this accusation. about, eventhinking during trial, the chores i
needed to do when i got home. being sentenced to serve 28 years in prison. my mother, single mother, worked two jobs. it was still not enough to afford an attorney. that is the reason our prisons are overfilling right now, the access to justice. the prison system has a disproportionate amount of black and brown men. if we were all green, it would have a disproportionate amount of poor green people in prison. being an attorney is more than wearing nice ties. we are promising and being sworn in to serve the people. that is exactly what i set out to do once i was released. when i was sentenced in 1998 to prison, the first prison i went to was green bay, wisconsin. it was one of the most violent
prisons in the state of wisconsin. i, fortunately, was never attacked. but you cannot erase what your eyes see. prison is not a place of corrections. it is a place of warehousing. i saw it on a daily basis -- men just waking up, eating, going to sleep, and waving a white flag on their lives. 90% of those men will be going home one day. i sat and thought about that. at the same time, fighting for my freedom. that fight did not start until one day, while in a prison cell, i was with a man who was close to 60 years old. he had been in prison for about 20 years. he was an older guy, older white man, who was found guilty of two murders.
he would tell you, i committed the crime. an incident happened in the prison. we were on lockdown. you are pretty much in your cell. they do an investigation to find out if it is an isolated incident or full-scale riot. was the first time i had a conversation with someone i had been in a cell with for six months. i just so happens to have a prison phone call. i was calling out to my parents. they bring you a phone in your cell. everything is in your cell. your bathroom is in your cell. they feed you in your cell. that phone call that day was very instrumental to me getting right here today. i was speaking to my mother and my aunt, telling them they denied another one of my appeals. they basically were denying my appeals throughout the state of
wisconsin by saying, you cannot do over. they never addressed any of the witnesses that proved definitively it was impossible for me to be in two places at one time. they never addressed that at all. me, in prison, i got to the point where i was in cycles, just like many of the people i was in prison with. i just did not want to deal with my case. i was talking to my mother on the phone, telling them, they denied another one of my appeals. i do not understand why. as soon as i got off the phone, listen, i haved, been in this cell with you almost six months. i never heard you say anything about innocence, the case. you do not do anything but work out, play basketball, play tennis.
frankly, you act like you are in college. with himt conversation and saw myself in that same cycle of giving up. he said, let me see your transcripts. let me see your files. i gave them to him that day, many of which were unopened, still in the envelope from my attorney. i just was not strong enough to deal with the reality of being years with a 28 mandatory release of 2019. i was not strong enough to take my own life. i also was not strong enough to deal with the reality of the place i was in. over the course of a week, we had gotten off of lockdown. he read through my transcripts and my police reports. i again went out and played basketball and worked out. my therapeutic way of dealing with it.
day,e back to my cell one and he had all my paperwork spread out. he had the police paperwork in hand. pen.rew me a notepad and he said, i have never getting out of this place. you are in here for racist bullcrap with no evidence. you play chess, you are working out, and you're giving up. you are 18 or 19 years old. you have the rest of your life ahead of you. you need to start fighting. i have never seen a case so devoid of any evidence. that day, i put down my basketball shoes. i got rid of my chessboard, which i really loved. i actually made the chessboard myself. i went to the law library and started to craft my own shoddy version of a petition to get myself home.
i started off writing letters to everyone. naacp, oprah. i tried to find stedman's address. i was writing everyone, trying to tell them i was innocent. i realized as the years went by, my writing got better. my research got better. i went from saying, look, i am innocent.o i am strickland versus washington is a case where this lawyer was effective. immediately as i started writing these letters and sending them out, i got a response from the wisconsin innocence project. the director of the wisconsin innocence project, they came and saw me with two law students who were in school at the time. they said, do you mind if we take your case? i almost fell over. do i mind?
i told them, absolutely. they took my case. he started at litigating the case in court. he did this federally. confusing, once you exhaust all your remedies in state court, there is a process. you have the opportunity to file an federal court and say, look, there are constitutional flaws in this conviction. will you overturn it? the federal circuit granted me a certificate to appeal. the wisconsin innocence project appealed all the way to the seventh circuit. judges unanimously agreed to overturn my conviction. as i listened to them argue my conviction, i was on the phone in prison with shackles on, listening to them argue on my behalf in the seventh circuit of chicago. and almost a year to the date that they argued my conviction in that court, i was released.
that was another fight that started. because now i am released. i do not have a record, record expunged. but how do you expunge 10 years missing from your life? cbs, theyg a report, asked me to get pictures. i went to my mother's house. but tot to eat her food, get these pictures. i looked through the photo album from when i was a baby up until 17 years old, when i graduated high school. there are pictures. those pictures do not start again until i was 27 years old. am, that almost made me remove myself from the room and go cry. if put into perspective how you cannot erase that, you know? and i got out.
i noticed when i got out that my aunt and my mother, their emotions were very high and very sensitive to me. they just did not know, right? all the misconceptions you believe from prison, people who go to prison, you just do not know. you know that they are not set up, we are not set up, once we are released from prison, to do very well. they felt the same about me as well. that ifelt so god-awful put them through this, like i made a decision to sneak and go to this party. even though i was not guilty, i felt so guilty, when my mother went to church that dark cloud was over her head and she would be brought to tears. i cannot tell you today i knew i
would be an attorney in the state of new york. but i did know that i owed that woman. i owed her for the prison phone calls, the support, for giving me birth twice. one time to get me here and to continue to keep my spirit alive as i sat for 10 years in a prison. 2007 ap off the couch in month after i was released, and to souththree miles suburban community college. three miles is not quite that long. in chicago in february, it is long. i am telling you. the wind was blowing. i have the coat on. i enrolled in school. i just wanted to be able to do what i am doing now, to
contribute, to talk to people who are going through things, and even talk to people before they go through things, to help them understand that this is real. this is possible. i graduated in 2009 from south suburban. i was able to meet someone who introduced me to someone who hired me as a full-time investigator. i got that job. that job, it really contributed to my growth as a person, you know? i went from being in prison in 2007. 2010, i am going into prisons and taking statements and helping people and contributing. that encouraged me to continue to go to school. so i went to school at night. ridiculous,ule was now that i get the opportunity to sit back and think about it. i would get up at 5:00, get to work at 6:30 before anyone got there and heard me copying 100
pages from a book. go to work during the day, 9:00 to 5:00, serving subpoenas and stuff like that in chicago. i never really realized how many loose dogs were around in chicago until i started serving subpoenas. fromld come back from work 5:00 to 6:00, go to school from 6:00 to 9:30. i would get home at 11:30 m or peta process. i did that for -- and repeat the process. i did that for five years. i am saying that specifically for you kids out here. look, you are going to have obstacles always in life. you have to decide whether or not you go over it, around it, or right through it. you are going to have to keep going. look, that is the real message. is not scripted. that is what i had to do. i do not know i would be here
today as an attorney, but if you read the book of jarrett adams, it was not going to say wrongfully convicted, got out, the end. i was able to get through law school by continuing to network and meet great people. i met great attorneys, great attorneys. anduating law school was outstanding feeling. what was even better was clerking in the seventh circuit, the same circuit that overturned my conviction. many times, i would have to ask the clerk in the courtroom with me what was going on in court because i was daydreaming back to when i was in maximum security prison, listening on the phone to attorneys argue my case for my freedom. now i am in the same courtroom less than 10 years later as a graduating law student on his way to becoming a lawyer. this made me pinch myself.
liams was myil mentor. i met her as i started law school because i applied for the chicago bar fellowship foundation, which i won. she was one of the deciding board members. that was very important for me. record buting on my the tentacles of a wrongful conviction reaching almost forever. i did not have a bank account. i do not have credit. some bankers did not find me credit worthy when the last address check was in maximum security in wisconsin. crystalinging folgers to school and paying my way through college because of the difficulties i endured with money. after the scholarship i received ,rom the chicago bar foundation
it was very important to get me to where i am today. i never lost touch with that relationship. i continued to send judge williams e-mails, updates, let her know how i was doing in school. i never lost touch with that relationship. that gave me the opportunity to clerk in the very same circuit that overturned my conviction. i spent the next six months after clerking in the seventh circuit in new york, which i deborah-- with judge sat me down and told me things i needed to know as a young person starting a legal career. the bar has nothing to do with being a lawyer. but it is necessary, right? you have to do what you need to do to get through and get by. that is exactly what i did. i needed that community of support. i got that continuously to get to where i am today.
bar,sed the new york started working for the innocence project. i could pinch myself at times when i walked through the door and i have my case files of people who i am fighting for their innocence. and here it is, not even 10 years ago, i was fighting for my own innocence. you know, i just do not want to seem as if what i did was so amazing and no one else can do it, because you absolutely can't. you have to believe -- absolutely can. you have to believe in yourself. i know this is my life and my story, but whenever i am with kids close to that age, i let you know that you need to push forward. upnow that i have a timer here to stay within the time.
i will close by saying this. i had a birds eye view of the criminal justice system. it is not a place of corrections. is a place of warehouse. the two scariest things i saw in prison was not violent. one of them was people getting out in the wintertime and coming right back in the summer. because i was there for so long, i would see the same people come right back. i would have conversations with them. you know, what happened, man? basically, what i got from what they were telling me was they were first convicted for a crime in their community. they were imprisoned with no skills at all being taught to them. they were released where? right back into the community where the crime happened at. and they were right back as a result of that. that is what is happening in our
prisons. last, second thing that really just shook me, as i am watching a couple guys play basketball, i am noticing that they are calling each other names. i think it is nicknames. they refer to each other as "pops." grandpops, and son. i didn't learn until a month later that those weren't nicknames. that was a grandfather, a father, and a son in the same prison. can you imagine how this family looks like right now? peopleontinue to vanish from society and break down the structures in our community, how can we ever expect to stop the senseless gun violence that is plaguing our communities? how do we expect to ever bridge the gap of police in our
communities? strong, but they are not strong enough to be a father and a mother. there are a lot of fathers in prison. rightfully, but a lot because they were in the backseat of a car. it is ridiculous. enormous amount of men and, increasingly, women are in prison for drugs, for pot. that is a head scratching. -- scratcher. it is taking its toll on our communities. you cannot put people in prison, teach them nothing, release them, and tell them to do good. it does not make any sense. you do not have to be an attorney, a rocket scientist, to understand that this system is broken and has been broken since its inception. its design is flawed.
are speaking about it, but they are speaking about it now because, again, it is not so much a racial color line. it is access to justice. if you are poor and cannot put up a defense, your chance of going to prison are high. an attorney i will not name told me this -- i would rather be rich as hell and guilty as hell than poor as hell and innocent as hell. that is true. the people that we release from prison are going right back where? inside their community. they are starting to boil over into everyone's neighborhood. everyone must take notice and do something about it. i do not care if you are a librarian, doctor, whatever it
is, have these conversations at the water fountain. who you vote for, it has an effect. speak up. we all will be here and be gone someday. when you leave it to the next generation, how do you want to leave it? do you want to continue to be the greatest country in the world and greatest imprisoner in the world? we cannot say to ourselves there millionpoint something people worth banishing in our society. i worked with some of the most thoughtful and eloquent people with a prison number on their chest. very smart man. know that one of these young men or young women who are have the forever won't
groundbreaking idea for a medication that can cure cancer, for something that contributes to society? some people are placed in these situations simply by their demographic, where they are born. it should not be that way. i thank you all for your time and appreciate you coming out today. [applause] i am stephanie jansky. today, we are enjoying a friday form with jarrett adams, attorney and cofounder of life
after justice. we are about to begin the q and a. we welcome questions from everyone. if you would like to tweet a question, please tweet it at the city club, and our staff will try to work it into the forum. holding our microphones today, faye walker and wesley allen. may we have the first question, please? >> good afternoon. i am so happy that you are here. i am glad to see that the young youre are here to hear important message. i am a retired schoolteacher. so often, children would come in front of me that have the same story that you have, that are frustrated and have been falsely accused of something. so my question is, what can a
hasher say to a student who stopped believing in himself or herself, no longer has his or her eyes on the prize, is just ready to give up? what would you say to a teacher to try to help that student? mr. adams: well, first, thank you for your question. teachers have one of the most difficult jobs in society. for real. the attention span of kids, teenagers are like -- i would encourage you to do this. teacher, have, in some ways, more of an effect on kids than their parents. to see them so much. you cannot give up encouraging them. you just cannot. it is a full-time job. it really is.
i am sure you take a lot of these stories home with you as a teacher. it weighs heavily on your heart. you have to continue to encourage them. you cannot just tell them stories. i am not the only young black man who has been able to overcome the odds. although i do not get as much airtime as if i were a rapper, there are stories that you can find to continuously encourage these kids to push forward. i really do not have the concrete answer for you other faith isay, look, believing until it becomes true. continue to push forward. thank you again for your question. [applause] wanted to know, when you got out of jail, did you go back and speak with your cellmate? mr. adams: actually, i believe
he passed away. , and it was hard for me to find where he went. what is real strange is, when you are in prison, you are not known by name. you are just known by numbers on an id. and tryinging around to contact him and stuff like that. i believe one of my letters did make it to him. he was, you know, a person who just -- he didn't care about being known or anything like that. he wanted to say his peace. most of the time i was in there with him, he was a grumpy old man. for real. i was not able to have as great a relationship with him as i wanted to. specifically, when i got out, there was so much i had to deal with getting out and starting a new life.
i can give you one example. i go down to get my id. whoever who has been to get an id, you know how those lines are. i was in line for about an hour. i get up there, and they are like, you need a birth certificate or social security card. i go stand in another line for two hours. you do not need a birth certificate. you just need an id. it was stuff like that trying to reintegrate back into society that took my focus off of thanking him the right way. one thing is for sure -- i will make sure his memory lives on. i will not stop telling that story. thank you for your question. do you find that immigrants, foreign-born people, are particularly vulnerable because they are in a strange place, do
not know the law, often times, do not have the money? mr. adams: i can tell you from two perspectives, from being in there and being out as an attorney. absolutely they are vulnerable. not just access to justice, but also victims of crime. there are a lot of studies out on immigrants who come to this country just to make a living to send back to their families. they are taking advantage of, slave wages and all types of things. in prison, what i found was there were people who barely spoke english. they were sentenced to serve time in prison. and instead of being released, they were released to a county jail awaiting extradition back to their country. so that was another head scratcher for me. as an attorney, as a
contributing member of society who pays taxes, why are we sending people out of the country? what sense does that make? it makes no sense at all. i saw a lot of that. it was very disheartening. we think of people and the way we depict people with handcuffs yourself, iot ask wonder what he was accused of. i wonder if he has a good attorney. you say, i wonder what he did or she did, right? and i found out that many of these people in prison, they have families. they were fathers. they were brothers, too. i met a lot of people who were getting deported as soon as their sentences were over. it was one of these things. , youwould tell me, look think it is finally here, you do not know -- violent here, you do
not know violence in venezuela. they would be deported to the same country that they flee. many of them, over and over again. that is definitely a long topic and issue, but thank you for your question. >> how are you doing? i was just wondering where you found the drive and courage to keep going after you got out of prison and not just be one of the people that goes back. did you ever receive an apology from any of the defense attorneys or anybody who wrongfully accused you? mr. adams: great question. they do not apologize in court. i had a chance to speak to my attorney. know, look -- he failed to investigate my case. i am accused of a rape, following someone up the stairs. there were witnesses that could
have told him it was false. he did not hire an investigator. he did not call any witnesses. i was so upset at him for so long. when i got a chance to actually he, from him, i heard that too, is human and made a mistake and drop the ball. it happens. the practice of law is just that -- a practice. some lawyers should not be lawyers. damndesters try their and make a mistake. we are human. -- to answer specifically the question about what encouraged me, if i can get you all to see the wrinkles and creases of anguish on my
mother's forehead in that visiting room, being told you cannot hug the sun you gave birth to, those phone calls, everything -- i am not the only one there. she is out, but she is in prison in spirit. the ridiculous things that happen on those shows -- i owed her. i was going to repay her somehow, somewhere. your encouragement may be different. you may find something else that encourages you. may be what you hear from me will encourage you to go and be not just great but extraordinary, right? you can do it. you definitely can. i mayou get up there, have my aarp card and be
retired. look out for me. >> thank you for your presence and teaching us some lessons. i had one question about your cellmate. but i have another one and now only have one question. your perception, having been in jail, you made some comments about drug possession. do you think if we treated all of drug possession charges, not necessarily trafficking charges, not imprison those people, that would save the prisons for people proven to be violent. with that be an improvement on the system? do you have an opinion on that? when is your book coming out? mr. adams: i am an extreme notetaker. i took notes in prison and here. i read a study in norway on how they run their prisons. the idea of them running their prisons is more like how it
should be. you are in prison, no doubt. you cannot get out and leave. but it does not look like prison. it goes to my point i am making. likeannot cage people up animals, feed them like animals, and then release them and tell them to be human. it does not make sense. it does not work at all. and, you know, being with people who are in prison, a lot of them in prison, they are there because they have different vices, different types of abuses and things like that. many of them are substance abusers. many of them are selling drugs to feed their own habit. many of them are robbing and killing to feed their habit. we are punishing people. who have this extreme glutton for punishment in society, right?
we punish them all the way until they die. you cannot do this. you cannot get that. people are going to prison, and they are not being treated, right? they are not being treated at all. there are people that come, and right before your eyes, they are suffering from withdrawals of heroin, not being treated at all. when you release them to the same community they come from, the same things happen. you can get whatever drug you're looking for in prison, ok? whatever it is. many of them do drugs in prison as well. we have to separate people who for nonviolent crimes from the people who are there for violent crimes. i will tell you why. if you are raised in a house full of people who yell, you will raise your voice without knowing. if you are in a prison with a bunch of people who are violent,
you will be what as a result? violent. you are the one handing out the violence or receiving the violence. the entire system needs to be rehauled. but it has to be that 1% to 10% that has all the money in our society. an advocate for changes inside. if you change what is going on inside, you change the numbers of the people inside. is -- i think it is around 70% -- just think about this. over half the people in prison have been there before; right? they have been the prison -- to prison. they have been released, and they came back. carsne this -- 50% of the
-- i will not name the company, but if a car company produced 50% ofd, on average, those cars came back after they left the production line, it would stop. something would be done. so why hasn't it been done with the prison system, right? i mean, the answers may be there. is it because of the people who fuel the prison system? is it a black and brown thing? is it a poor thing? it is something. we do know that. thank you for your question. ce.my name is amy spen my fiance has been in prison for 13 years for a crime his best friend committed. polygraphs passed him based on innocent.
his best friend admitted he was guilty and also passed. we have always fought for his innocence, his freedom. there has not been one year where we have not filed something, and he kind of appeal or whatever. recently, the innocence project in ohio decided to collaborate with his attorney to file his no trial motion. we have an application of innocence pending with our local integrity unit. they accepted it one year, sat on it for nine months, and denied it. after this article was written by kyle swenson, they decided to reopen his case. i think it was because of the attention from the article that, you know, brought them to make that decision to reopen or reinvestigate his case. but as family members, you know, how do we create more attention on these cases when all the evidence is there, clear as day?
if you read this, you would say, why is this man still in prison? we started a petition on change.org. we got 1000 signatures, but then it stopped. how did your family keep fighting for you? it has been 13 years for us. we got to this- point with the innocence project, which is awesome, you know, but we still want to bring more attention to his case and make more people aware of the injustice happening to him and so many others. how to family members keep fighting and create that attention? we have written celebrities and everything, too. mr. adams: thank you for your question. i will make sure i will give you my information before i leave. to be honest, that is a question my mother or aunt could answer better than i could. i will say this. the squeaky wheel gets the oil. you have to continue to beat
the drum until the attention comes. we cannot forget about the power we hold in our hands with cell phones, with social media. you do not have to wait for someone to write a report. you can write these blogs, spread them on social media and tag people. tag potus. tag people that continue to beat the drum. he also has to continue to wait for justice. look, the unfortunate thing about prison and being in prison is it really does not go slow. before you know it, one christmas will turn into eight before you know it. it is one of these things. the best thing for me to do when i was in there was believed that, every day, i was going
home the next day. it was like reverse psychology for myself. i can imagine what you're going through. i know what it was like to speak on the phone with my mother and do the calls and stuff like that. i repeat what i said earlier and say, keep the faith. continue to reach out to as many people as you possibly can. letters a week0 on average. , but manyet 10 stamps of the letters would not change. it is me again. i was mailing the same people. it took a long time. i was imprisoned for five years before the innocence project took my case. it took a lot of reaching out. back in 1998, there was no google. google did not come out until 1999. there was no e-mail, cell phones, stuff like that.
tweet andgoing to facebook, do it with purpose and with a cause. thank you. i will make sure i give you my information. >> this will be a follow-up to that question. each time i have read or heard about a person like yourself being found innocent or being exonerated, it seems that there was an extraordinarily sloppy job done on the police and ofsecutors' side investigating and making any real effort to determine what happened. now, i appreciate the pressure that was brought on assistant prosecutors or district attorneys, depending on where you are from, to achieve a conviction. from your vantage point, do you have any suggestions as to change that could be made on the perhaps on' side and the police side to see that matters like yours are, in fact,
properly investigated? mr. adams: thank you for your question. that is a great question. i have been giving this some thought. the relationship between the shouldand a prosecutor not be as close as they are. they should not be able to work hand in hand. prosecutors should not be able to become investigators and go back to a prosecutor. you should not be able to go into a room and question a suspect, as we have seen some at times with prosecutors. you should not tell a police officer how to question a suspect. we have created a criminal justice system and a system in itself that picks sides against one another. and i don't care if it is a spitball contest, whatever contest it is, you do not care about anything besides winning. when you do that, justice is robbed. my suggestion would be a separate entity between the
police and prosecutors, an entity where you do not have to know the name of a person to find out if there is enough evidence of guilt. you do not need to know the color of the person to find out if there is evidence of guilt. there should be a room with three open-minded people who would get evidence, look at evidence, and decide whether or not it goes to trial. and the prosecutor and the police should not be able to evidence into making it fit wherever they want it to fit. it should not be that way. if you get out, if you are wrongfully convicted, it is a thing called immunity. you cannot even sue the prosecutors and police unless you catch them doing something a ,egree just -- egregious
meaning dropping the murder weapon at your house. how do you do that? most of the people being wrongfully convicted, they have been there for years, before technology was out. now science is advancing, with dna an all types of stuff. when you get out, you can even -- cannot even punish the people who did that to you. they are captains of the force. it is about winning, not about justice. it is just not. you can see i am passionate about that. [applause] mr. adams: thank you, though. >> can you comment on the wildly popular "serial" podcast? sort of a similar situation where the lawyer did not do her job. is that going to help the innocence project? mr. adams: i was in prison with steven avery in wisconsin. i did not know him personally.
in prison, you bounce around from prison to prison. i was in the same system with steven avery. i do not know enough about the case to venture into guilt or innocence or anything like that, but i know this -- i cannot even go and get my own niece or nephew out of school. uncle.racle -- their how can the police get them out of school, question them for hours, take them back to school, and later use that evidence to charge him and his uncle with a crime? if we want to preserve the criminal justice system, they should begin in a new trial. that is what they should begin, and new trial. if there is enough evidence and guilty, thereare should be enough evidence to find them guilty fairly without evidence that was manufactured by way of intimidation and taking advantage of people, just
taking advantage of people. for you that have seen the show "making of a murder," you know what i'm talking about. some evidence, there was a kid who was basically -- she was questioned for hours and hours with no parent and no lawyer in this police department, being questioned by people who andtion people for a living used this evidence to convict him at trial. is heartbreaking. this kid is in prison right now. i am glad they exposed this through the show. also, there is another point i want to make about the show. steven avery was wrongfully convicted. he was released after 20 years. dna group he did not commit this rape and murder or something
like that. i think it was a rape. crime he is in jail for now happened a year after his release. he is released from prison with nothing and he is staying on an auto body salvage yard, basically a junkyard, in a trailer, surrounded by nothing but vacant, pour down cars. isolated. reminiscent of what? a prison. he was not given mental health care. no screening, no nothing. just, our bad. you did not commit the crime. he is released into these conditions of god knows what, a trailer yard, living by himself. now he is in prison for murder. that should be a bigger topic in itself. i do not know the evidence in
the case, but i know he was released. after 20 years of anything, anything, whether it is marriage or whatever it is, you might need to talk to someone from time to time. he is released from prison, and it is like nothing. that case is just mind-boggling. thank you for your question. [applause] mr. adams: thank you again for having me out, man. i really appreciate it. >> monday marks the 20th anniversary of the 1996 welfare passed by a republican congress and signed by president bill clinton. our special program looks back at the civic debate over the law. >> the current welfare system has failed the very families it was intended to serve. >> i do not know many people who want to humiliate themselves
standing on a line, waiting for their welfare check. yes, there are some cheats out there. there is no question about it. but a lot of those people are simply people who have not yet discovered a way out of their misery and poverty. >> we have decided that the states and governors and legislators in america are as concerned about the poor as we are, as concerned about their well-being, if not more so, than we are about the status of welfare in their states. >> it includes discussions on how the changes impacted the poor. >> from now on, our nation's answer to this challenge will no longer be a never-ending cycle of welfare. it will be the dignity of work. we are taking a historic chance to make welfare what it was meant to be, a second chance, not a way of life. >> monday night at 9:00 eastern
on c-span. >> throughout this month, we are showing book tv programs throughout the week in primetime. takes our public affairs programming and focuses on the latest nonfiction book releases through discussions. our signature programs are in-depth, a live look at one author's work with questions from phone and social media. it airs the first sunday of every month at noon eastern. afterwards is a one-on-one conversation with a author of a newly released nonfiction book and the interviewer is either a journalist or legislator familiar with the topic, often with an opposing viewpoint. thewe will take you across country, visiting book festivals and events where authors talk about their latest work. book tv is the only national
network devoted exclusively to nonfiction books. book tv on c-span2 -- television for serious readers. >> now, hip-hop artists on why they started rapping to deal with politics and personal pain from the center for civil and human rights in atlanta. [applause] >> all right. so just to set the tone for the conversation, we have so much talent, each and every one of you, we could spend this entire evening talking to. we are going to get into a number of different topics today. i want to hit on as much as we possibly can, which means i will sometimes move the conversation along. please do not write a song about me. i do not want that. i do not need that. all good. , moving along, i just want us
to have a real conversation. i do not want this to be like any other panel. i would like if we can get as deep as possible into some of these topics that a lot of people skirt around, a lot of panels like this, somebody may mention something and move on because it is controversial. i want us to be honest about, you know, what you think and how we can start moving the conversation forward . i want to start with the question of why you do what you do. it is such an important question because we all have a pretty good familiarity of what you do. the oneyou do it is thing none of us can ever -- never tell you. it is the one thing you can teach