By Kira Fonteneau,Jefferson County Public Defender
On March 18, 1963, in “Gideon v. Wainwright,” the United States Supreme Court recognized that people who are charged with crimes are entitled to legal counsel even if they cannot afford to pay for it themselves. By upholding the constitutional right to an attorney, the Court empowered the justice system as a whole.
“Our state and national constitutions and laws have laid great emphasis on procedural and substantive safeguards designed to assure fair trials before impartial tribunals in which every defendant stands equal before the law,” declared Justice Hugo Black, an Alabama native, in the court’s opinion. “This noble ideal cannot be realized if the poor man charged with crime has to face his accusers without a lawyer to assist him.”
Since Gideon, a generation of lawyers and other professionals have worked tirelessly to defend clients who would otherwise be crushed under the weight of the criminal justice system.
As lawyers who represent the poor in Alabama, we know that many people have mixed feelings about the role criminal defense lawyers play in society. It can be hard for the public to separate an individual from the grievous crimes he is accused of by the government. All too often, that societal distrust of alleged criminals is extended toward the people who defend them. As a result, there is a natural tendency to downplay the importance of providing a quality defense to those who are accused.
Justice is only possible when it is extended to all parties in the criminal system.
Kharon Davis has been held in the Houston County Jail for 9 years with no trial and no bond. The conditions within the jail are archaic, hateful, psychologically damaging and unconstitutional. Kharon is held in 23 hour lockdown for 4 years, in a constantly cold cell that is unhygienic, denied access to the law library, exercise yard and even the main inmate population.
Why has Kharon been denied his constitutional right to a fair and speedy trial? Please come and show your support for Kharon and the other inmates, many of whom have not even been to court yet, let alone been convicted of a crime, and to demand that Jail Commander Keith Reed drastically improve the conditions inline with the Department of Justices, National Institute Of Corrections, jails standards.
The Houston County Sheriff’s Office Website, recently posted an updated booking photo of Tramaine Bradley which is drastically different from the way he looked at the time of his arrest on February 10, 2016 along with Ernest Whitehurst.
Houston County Sheriff’s deputies seized nearly 5 pounds of synthetic marijuana, known as spice, which had an estimated street value of around $6,500 and arrested the two men on drug trafficking charges as part of a four month long drug distribution investigation.
Both Bradley and Whitehurst were taken to the Houston County Jail and each held on $1.5 million bail.In addition to the manufacture and distribution charges Houston County Sheriff Donald Valenza stated that Bradley was also charged with resisting arrest.
Interestingly whilst held in the jail no one has been allowed to visit Bradley, its hard to say whether its been due to the visitation policy or whether the HCSO have been trying to conceal Bradley’s injuries from the public at the time of arrest, and as he was due to appear in court 03/07/2016, given the heightened racial tension since the release of documents by the Henry County Report revealing racism within the Dothan Police Department and the planting of drugs and guns on young black men.The Department Of Justice have requested those affected to contact them directly on 202 307 6999, the NAACP have announced that they have formally opened an investigation too.
Jon B. Carroll from The Henry Reporthas obtained and released details of a horrific case of purposeful persecution and prosecution of a totally innocent man. James Bailey, in addition to being set up on drug charges, underwent a horrific and sustained beating, to the point of unconsciousness, he was taken to hospital and the following day, back at the jail, the beating continued including being handcuffed with his hands behind his back for 8-12 hours in a restraint chair, beaten with a metal pipe, maced, beaten around his head, punched and kicked all over his body, which resulted in brain and permanent nerve damage. They broke his fingers too, he also required stitches for some of his many injuries.
Bailey was drugged at one point while he was in jail, given twice the allowable dosage and in the drug induced state (Prozac and Vistaril) gave what is interpreted by the Sheriff’s Dept as a confession to the murder of C.J. Hatfield. A murder, that he didn’t commit as he was in a different state at the time, which the Police, investigators and DA’s Office knew, but seemingly chose to prosecute him for it anyway. Click here to read the full story
When Carroll asked one of the former defence lawyers why was this not revealed, he said that Judge, Larry Anderson, would not do several things, he kept Bailey in chains and shackles in front of the jurors, we were given no money to hire a private investigator to simply verify the multiple alibis, nothing. We were scared, they wanted this guy guilty and we have to live here. The jury convicted Bailey after 15 minutes of deliberation, the exculpatory evidence was never shared. Bailey was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.
Have to wipe & show officer to prove you are on monthly, will only give you 1, 12ct bag of pads & no underwear, will sometimes take hours to bring you pads after you prove you are on monthly.
If you are indigent you will get 1 roll of toilet paper to last you approx 3 weeks until you are eligible for the 3 rolls every 2 weeks.
Toilets will only flush 2x every hour. Officers can press button to flush at other times but will not, so in communal (1 toilet) in dayroom you have approx 40+ women using toilet you can imagine the faeces, urine & blood that accumulates.
Do not receive sheet to put on mattress & mattresses are not disinfected between uses.
Will not give you proper cleaning supplies to clean cells. I was there for a 2 week period & we were on 23 hour lock down. Fed in our cells & we were not given cleaning supplies once.
Once when we told the Health Department, during an inspection about the conditions, we were put on our beds for 3 days.
May God bless and keep you and yours, I write to ask for your prayers.
In Houston County, Alabama there is such blatant evil. Everything that i have ever read about Nazi Germany, goes on at Houston County Jail, and Houston County itself is a den of evil that rivals mobsters. I myself went through Houston County Jail in 2015.
The experience broke me down physically, mentally and even spiritually. I had to ask myself why God would allow such abuse to take place. Through the time out of there i’ve gotten stronger and i now have a richer relationship with God. I now realize that he allows things in our life to make us stronger and dependent on him alone, so that he can show his power and glory in our lives.
I’m not beaten, through God and the wonderful person he blessed me with as my husband, who is a mountain of love, encouragement and integrity, i am motivated to write. I do question why the situation in Houston County, the corruption, the racism, the abuse of power and the conditions in Houston County Jail have been left to degenerate into that state that its now revealed to be in. I have to question, why isn’t someone in office who CAN do something about it, doing something about it?
Or is it like it was in Nazi Germany, where people just say “Oh how dreadful” and then turn a blind eye?
The release of authentic police documents, by Jon Carroll, whistleblower of the Henry County Report and previously confirmed by former Police Chief John White, indicated that law enforcement officers planting drugs and weapons on black males and the District Attorney then prosecuting these fraudulent charges, as well as the District Attorney covering up crimes committed by law enforcement officers. As a result, several other victims of the same types of crimes alleged in those documents have come forward to join the community’s stand against these injustices committed by law enforcement, lawyers, and judicial officers of the court.
The following statement is from a Gentleman that came forward to tell his story, the wrongs done, the legal misrepresentation, the punishment meted out, the brutal and inhumane conditions suffered whilst held in the Houston County Jail. We aim to build a comprehensive picture in the readers mind in order to give you a better insight as to what really happens once your within the Houston County judicial system.
Our hope is that what has transpired here in Dothan will help to bridge the divide, maybe people will now realise and accept that racism in all of its guises should never be allowed to succeed. Lets remind ourselves and especially those in public office that discrimination for reason of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, or religion in unacceptable, they know that its wrong and its thinly disguised as something other than what it really is.
PICTURED IN THE IMAGE ABOVE, CARLTON OTT, CLARK RICE, STEVE HAMM, STEVE PARRISH, DAVID JAY, MICHAEL MAGRINO, DEWAYNE HERRING, ANDY HUGHES, GARY COLEMAN, AND SCOTT SMITH
HUNDREDS OF CASES PROSECUTED WITH PLANTED EVIDENCE, MANY WRONGLY CONVICTED STILL IN PRISON
The Alabama Justice Project has obtained documents that reveal a Dothan Police Department’s Internal Affairs investigation was covered up by the district attorney. A group of up to a dozen police officers on a specialized narcotics team were found to have planted drugs and weapons on young black men for years. They were supervised at the time by Lt. Steve Parrish, current Dothan Police Chief, and Sgt. Andy Hughes, current Director of Homeland Security for the State of Alabama. All of the officers reportedly were members of a Neoconfederate organization that the Southern Poverty Law Center labels “racial extremists.” The group has advocated for blacks to return to Africa, published that the civil rights movement is really a Jewish conspiracy, and that blacks have lower IQ’s. Both Parrish and Hughes held leadership positions in the group and are pictured above holding a confederate battle flag at one of the club’s secret meetings.
The documents shared reveal that the internal affairs investigation was covered up to protect the aforementioned officers’ law enforcement careers and keep them from being criminally prosecuted.
Several long term Dothan law enforcement officers, all part of an original group that initiated the investigation, believe the public has a right to know that the Dothan Police Department, and District Attorney Doug Valeska, targeted young black men by planting drugs and weapons on them over a decade. Most of the young men were prosecuted, many sentenced to prison, and some are still in prison. Many of the officers involved were subsequently promoted and are in leadership positions in law enforcement. They hope the mood of the country is one that demands action and that the US Department of Justice will intervene.
My name is Chrycynthia Ward Davis. my son Kharon T. Davis was charged with capital murder on June 9, 2007 and has been held at the Houston County Jail in Dothan AL, without bond nor has he been to trial. There were two co-defendants Lorenzo Stacy- trial date 2/23/09 – who was acquitted and Kevin McCloud – trial date 2/14/11- who accepted a plea deal for a lesser charge, conditional on him turning states evidence against my son, for which he is now serving a 99 year sentence.
My son Kharon has been subjected to deplorable/wretched living conditions, forced to be on lockdown consistently like an impounded dog since august 2014, under the orders of the jail commander Keith Reed. My son wrote a 10 page letter on May 7, 2013 regarding the psychological intimidation/mistreatment and bullying by some of the jail correctional officers and administrative staff.