Tyreis Friend

Wrongful Convictions, by Tyreis Friend

I was watching a special on the rapper Meek Mill hosted by Lester Holt about his legal issue that sparked national attention to something that existed for a time longer than it should. Meek was convicted for a “crime” he committed at the age of 19. His sentence was 2 to 4 years with the exception of probation. And probation is the obvious x-factor in this case. You see, the stipulations of his probation are set up to punish the rapper if mistakes are made. He’s now 30 and still in a battle with being a productive man and father or being sent to prison if every standard of his probation isn’t met. And one of them requires him to ask permission to take his son to school who resides in New Jersey, which is outside the state of Pennsylvania just across a bridge where Meek resides. There are a lot of skeptics who may say things like, he should’ve thought of that before carrying a gun or allegedly dealing drugs. Not to sound like I’m making excuses, but when you grow up in a poverty stricken area the percentage of becoming a product of your environment is very high. He may not have been innocent but his innocence as a child in such a setting like Philly wasn’t considered or protected. Let’s explore another case with more depth.

There’s a 17 year old who gets into a public fight with a 20 year old in a neighborhood two states away from the one he was raised in. He’s obviously a new resident so the odds are against him. The 17year old goes home after the guy threatened to kill him if he didn’t move out. Not even 5 minutes go by and the 20year old shows up at the child’s house where he’s caring for his then 8year old sister. The child, scared for his life pulls a gun to scare the 20 year old away. However, the 20 year old decides to call his bluff and proceeds to the trunk of his car as if he’s going to draw a gun himself. The child panics and shoots. The 20 year old later died from his wounds. The child then, with the help of his mother, turned himself in. He was then appointed counsel because he couldn’t afford one. The counsel then advised him to waive his juvenile rights because he’ll have a better chance at fighting it in adult court. The child was charged with one of the highest charges; Aggravated Murder. The definition of such is: causing the death of another with prior calculation and design; basically premeditated. Not to mention that this child was never given a mental health evaluation to see if he was coerced, influenced or challenged in a way that couldn’t be analyzed by the psychology of a child. He also didn’t have a competency hearing to see if he could even stand trial. Instead, he was told that if he takes the case to trial, he’ll be given the death penalty because the victim’s family was pushing for it. His counsel told him that it was best that he take the first deal that they throw at him. Which was 15 years to life plus 3 years for the gun specification. He also promised him that upon good behavior he’d come home after doing 10 1/2 years. It was all lies and he’s now 3 years away from seeing a parole board that has a 98.9% rate of giving more time to lifers no matter their behavior or program participation and their handing out 5 years at a minimum. That’s practically a new case without a trial and the definition of life is 888years. Some of the boards reasons for the flop are based on the “nature of the crime.” That’s interesting because there’s a charge called voluntary/involuntary manslaughter which means: crime of passion. In other words, if two people get into a heated situation like say, a fight, that someone just so happens to lose their life in the process of. This charge has a minimum of 3/5 years to 10/13 years. My questions to the readers: Do you think that this child would have been sentenced like that had he taken the case to trial where a jury could’ve judged the case based on what happened? Would the child have been sentenced like that had he not waived his juvenile rights? And last but not least, would he have received this treatment if he was able to afford counsel? This is a true example of a “Wrongful Conviction.”

In the interview, Meek stated that there were thousands of minorities being wrongfully convicted but are not as fortunate as he is to have that support to speak up for them. Though he would be the voice for the voiceless and use his platform to not only raise awareness but to administer some action to the cause of eliminating these wrongful convictions and outrageous sentences that don’t fit the crime committed. Pushing for Criminal Justice Reform.

That child wasn’t a criminal or a threat to society. He was only trying to protect himself and his sister. You can’t expect a child to make a wise decision in a hostile situation like that. It was a honest mistake and him turning himself in proved that he had no malicious intent. How do I know, because I was that child.
I ask for those who can understand to help advocate for juvenile injustice and wrongful convictions. There are too many children and minorities being coerced or tricked into making decisions that’ll keep them entrapped in a system that generates billions off everything from their labor to the funding of outdated programs that are no benefit to lifers. We need to “get rid of wrongful convictions,” #G.R.O.W.C!!!

Tyreis Friend
DOC #453-975

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