From 12th April to 9th May, we're going to complete 8090 burpees to raise money for our working trip to Missouri with The Dead Innocents Project this summer. We'd appreciate your support!
Why 8090? On the 9th May 2021, it will have been 8090 days since a fatal injustice occurred at the hands of the US legal system.
By supporting us, you will be helping to secure £2500 of funding from Humanade- a charity that issues grants for projects involving Human Rights and Environmental or Economic Justice.
WHAT IS THE DEAD INNOCENTS PROJECT?
The Dead Innocents Project aims to serve justice after death by exonerating individuals executed on death row.
This summer, the Dead Innocents Project is a collaborative effort between 9 UK students and allies at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Missouri provides a sub-project where there are 16 strong innocence cases in a racist state with less than two per cent of the US population.
The individuals in these cases have been failed by flawed legal processes in the US justice system, including corrupt investigations, inherent racism, and bad science. The real problem is the system then buries the individual- and no one has the incentive to prove the fatal mistakes that took place or exonerate them. The DIP seeks to address this problem and move closer to abolishing the death penalty by bridging the gap between those sacrificed and society at large.
“Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement."- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
In 1983, a prison guard was killed in a prison riot involving 25-30 inmates and 4 corrections officers. 3 men are charged- Roy Roberts, Rodney Carr and Robert Driscoll. The State accused Roy of holding down the prison guard while Robert Driscoll stabbed him to death; Roy received the death penalty and was executed in 1999.
Except… no physical evidence linked Roy to the crime. The prisoner who testified against Roy later recanted his testimony, stating that he lied to obtain parole. And, before he passed away, Robert Driscoll, who was sentenced to death but released after a third trial with decent lawyers- admitted that he killed the prison guard, and neither Roy nor Rodney had anything to do with it. Rodney- whose case is also being looked after by the Dead Innocents Project- is still serving life with a strong case of innocence. This makes Roy's case more viable.
“You're killing an innocent man and you can all kiss my ass"- Roy Roberts
As volunteers for the Dead Innocents Project, we have been working on the case of Roy Roberts. Now we have completed all of the work that is feasible from the UK- analysing and reading the trial transcripts and supporting documents- we plan to travel to Missouri to conduct an on-the-ground investigation. This will include collecting and evaluating evidence and interviewing witnesses, jury, and family members. All of which adds to the expense of proving the innocence of individuals condemned by the State!
But first, us!
We met in the final year of our undergraduate Law degrees at the University of Bristol. Since then, we have been living together as housemates in Clifton!
My experience as a Student Advisor at the University of Bristol Law Clinic is the main inspiration for my involvement in The DIP. Between December 2019 and July 2020, in my final year at University, I successfully challenged a decision made by Kingston Council- that my client was not entitled to permanent housing because they had made themselves "intentionally homeless".
From the outset, Kingston Council's neglect towards my client appalled and provoked me. Particularly appalling was the Council's willful ignorance towards the details of my client’s mental health diagnoses and reduced mental capacity. This alone rendered the decision incorrect on three grounds and made it clear that the system lacked compassion and concern for my client and the life-changing consequences of its decision.
This experience has made me determined to provide access to justice for those silenced or neglected within our legal and political systems- whether this arises from a disdain for ‘criminals’ and minority groups, or more generally because the individual is labelled a burden on society.
The unfortunate reality is that the US justice system is detached from the humans before them on death row. Roy Roberts’ case is a prime example of this, and the DIP is an opportunity to provide access to justice for Roy- whose innocence the US ‘justice’ system fatally discounted for no good reason.
Thanks to my dad’s fantastic music taste, I grew up listening to Pink Floyd. Whether it was his intention or not, this is one of the reasons I have always felt a need to question those in positions of power; and, of course, the so-called ‘justice’ system. I have had the opportunity to explore this further during my Human Rights Law Master’s at the University of Bristol, which has made me more determined to fulfil a career in human rights.
Since June 2020, I’ve had the pleasure of working with world-renowned human rights lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith. Clive is in charge of the DIP and, as if being inspired by Pink Floyd wasn’t enough, he was able to put me in touch with Roger Waters. Roger has agreed to partially fund our trip, and work as my personal mentor!
As a result of my experiences in an abusive relationship, I have an affinity with the underdog – and no people are as far “under” as the people who are sacrificed on the altar of deterrence for something they did not do.
My experiences have driven me to engage with the DIP, and try my hardest on Roy’s case. A key motivation for me is to provide a voice to those who have been silenced by those in positions of power. Through a combination of factors, including labelling him as a ‘criminal’ and poor defense lawyers; Roy was executed by the State for a crime he did not commit. The DIP is an opportunity to bring to light the multiple injustices which befell Roy Roberts.
OUR JOINT COSTS:
Return Flights to Missouri: cheapest from £1420
Food: £60 x 12.5 weeks = £750
Travel Insurance: cheapest from £350
Car rental including petrol: £1500
Access to transcripts and supporting documents: £250
Rent and utilities: £1730
Total: from £6000
And if we do manage to raise more than £6000, the extra funding will go towards an additional trip to work on more innocent cases and enable further exonerations!
IF YOU SUPPORT US...
You can also expect daily video updates from us on our TikTok: @8090burpees.to.justice
And feel free to set us challenges, whether it be an outfit or location you would like us to burpee in! You can do this through the 'Comments' section at the top of the page, or on our TikToks!
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR READING OUR PAGE AND FOR YOUR SUPPORT!