Cook County, Illinois Chief Criminal Judge LeRoy K. Martin tossed the convictions of 15 criminal defendants on November 16, 2017 because the cases were linked to disgraced former Chicago Police Sergeant Ronald Watts. All of the men whose cases were overturned claimed that they had been framed by Watts, who went to federal prison in…

Read More

By Christopher Zoukis Daniel Gristwood was a 29-year-old printer when he was arrested for the attempted murder of his wife on January 12, 1996. He initially confessed to the crime, and was convicted in New York state court based on that confession. Gristwood was sentenced to 12.5 years to 25 years in prison. During his…

Read More

By Chris Zoukis In an unusual turn of events, a former prisoner was appointed to Connecticut’s Parole Board. While ex-prisoners are typically not considered as parole board members, state officials decided that Kenneth F. Ireland was a qualified candidate. In 1989, when he was 18 years old, Ireland was convicted of raping and murdering Barbara…

Read More

By Prison Legal News

A California high school football star who was exonerated after serving five years in prison for kidnapping and raping a classmate has fulfilled his dream of playing for the NFL, and there are now plans to make a movie about his ordeal. Meanwhile, the woman who falsely accused him has been ordered to pay $2.6 million.

The crowd in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta cheered when Brian Banks, 28, took the field wearing an Atlanta Falcons uniform in the fourth quarter of a pre-season game on August 8, 2013. The 6-foot-2, 250-pound linebacker racked up two tackles during the Falcons’ 34-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.

“It was definitely a good feeling,” Banks said. “It was one of those things where, coming from where you’re coming from, just to have people support you chasing a dream. These guys have been working on this all their life. From Pop Warner [youth football program] to high school to college, this is what they’ve been doing. For them to accept me, and let me be a part of it, and just get out here and play and show what I can do is more than I can ask for.”

Although he was cut from the Falcons’ lineup before the regular season, Banks signed a movie deal with Gidden Media, which intends to tell his story in a full-length feature film. The entertainment website TMZ reported on January 9, 2014 that the movie will portray Banks’ fight to clear his name, and how he went from being a convicted sex offender to an NFL player.

Read More

By Dianne Frazee-Walker

Last Tuesday morning when inmate #1137593 bent down to tie his shoes, he did not know what the rest of the day would bring.

The inmate’s name was Ryan Ferguson.

Ferguson remained neutral with his emotions because had been through the same scenario before. He was holding back from getting his hopes up that this would be the last day he spent behind bars. Ferguson had served ten-years of a 40-year sentence for a murder he claims he did not commit.   

November 12, 2013 turned out to be Ferguson’s lucky day. Just seven-hours later, a composed Ryan Ferguson was surrounded by probing reporters outside the Tiger Hotel in Columba, Missouri. After ten years of being incarcerated for murder, 29-year-old Ryan Ferguson was finally exonerated and set free.

The main question inquiring minds want to know about Ferguson is this:  is he bitter about having a decade of his life snatched away from him? Ferguson was a 20-year-old college student when he was arrested. He spent all of his 20s incarcerated.

Amazingly, Ferguson is more interested in moving forward with his new life on the outside than seeking revenge. He has even forgiven his friend that initially lied about his involvement in the murder. Ryan now wants to start a campaign to free this man.

On Halloween night, 2001, Ferguson and his friend, Charles Erickson went out for a night on the town. They engaged in a night of underage drinking until the bars closed at 1:00am.  According to Ferguson, Erickson dropped him off at home and he went to sleep. During the wee hours of the morning, Kent Heitholt, sports writer for the Columbia Daily Tribune was brutally murdered in the parking lot of his office.  

Read More

Christopher Scott, Johnnie Lindsey and Billy Smith all have something in common. They are among more than 40 other Dallas citizens exonerated from extensive sentences imposed on them for crimes they had nothing to do with. Combined, the trio has served 63 years of their lives behind prison walls. For the past 36 years Dallas,…

Read More

Dianne Frazee-Walker Ten years ago when Brian Banks was a 16 year old high school student his freedom was cut short because of a false allegation.  Banks had just agreed to sign on to play football at Southern Cal because Coach Pete Carroll had his eye on the Long Beach Poly High School star linebacker.…

Read More