Hawaii First To Challenge President Trump’s Newest Immigration Order, Wrongfully Convicted Man Now An Innocence Project Lawyer, Farming And Undocumented Immigrants

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Heard On Central Time

With heightened immigration enforcement and a border wall on the way, America’s agricultural industry may be facing changes. Our guest discusses the role of undocumented immigrants in our nation’s farming, and what their absence might mean for food production. We also talk with a man who was freed from prison after a wrongful conviction, who now works as a lawyer for the Wisconsin Innocence Project, helping those who may be in similar situations. And Hawaii is the first state to challenge President Trump’s newest immigration order. We’ll talk about the future of the order in the courts.

Featured in this Show

  • Hawaii First To Challenge President Trump's Newest Immigration Order

    The state of Hawaii has filed a federal lawsuit challenging the latest immigration executive order. The lawsuit claims that the new ban is unconstitutional but Attorney General Jeff Sessions has said that the Department of Justice will protect the order. We’ll talk about the differences between the newest immigration ban and its predecessor, as well as the challenges the new ban will face in court. Nahal Toosi of POLITICO joins us.

  • Innocence Project Lawyer Was Exonerated Himself

    A lawyer representing someone for a potentially wrongful conviction knows what it’s like since he himself was exonerated by the Wisconsin Innocence Project after serving nearly a decade in prison. We find out what this change in role has been like.

  • Cleared Of A Crime By The Wisconsin Innocence Project, Lawyer Looks To Help Free Others

    Jarrett Adams was wrongfully convicted of sexual assault in Wisconsin when he was 17 years old. He was sentenced to 28 years in prison and spent nearly 10 long years behind bars before he was exonerated and released.

    As a newly freed man, he began to think about all that lost time. It was a thought that made him angry.

    But then another thought came to mind: The anguish on his mother’s face each time she drove hours upstate from Illinois to visit him. Her pain and support inspired Adams to make sure he dedicated the remaining chapters of his life to helping prevent others from having to go through what he and his family did.

    Now, Adams is an attorney with the Innocence Project in New York, and focuses on issues such as prison reform and wrongful convictions.

    Just last month, he made his first appearance in a Wisconsin court as an attorney, representing a client who says — and Adams believes — he was wrongfully convicted of sexual assault. It’s a case that’s eerily similar to his own.

    In the late 1990s, Adams stood in a Wisconsin courtroom after being accused of sexual assault following a consensual sexual encounter in a university dorm. His accuser said Adams and two additional men snuck up a flight of stairs, sexual assaulted the woman and quickly fled the building.

    “The only problem was it wasn’t true,” Adams said. “And there were witnesses who were able to create a timeline of events that made it absolutely impossible.”

    Adams was given a public defender who never called on the witnesses to testify. Adams said he and his family had no idea the difference between a good and bad defense. He was ultimately sentenced to 28 years in prison.

    As his teenage brain tried to understand what happened, he concluded his case was completely overshadowed by racial overtones. Adams, a black man, was accused by a white woman. But his years behind bars taught him that too many people in prison didn’t have adequate representation.

    “I felt like going into prison it was all about race, but I quickly realized that the criminal justice system doesn’t discriminate by color, it discriminates by resources. And it’s a bottom feeder of those who cannot afford a defense or don’t even know what a defense is,” Adams said.

    After spending eight years in prison, Adams was released in 2007 thanks to the help of the Wisconsin Innocence Project.

    “It took a huge chunk out of my life only to (see) my conviction be reversed, all the charges be dismissed, and me to be released without a record, but there’s a 10-year gap on my resume now,” he said.

    The years in prison had taken a toll and the assimilation process difficult.

    “It took me a while before I realized that I needed therapy, I needed help, I needed to talk to someone and release all of my anger and frustration to allow me to turn it into the fuel that drove me to who I am today,” Adams said.

    Most of the people who are in prison are coming home someday, he said, and taxpayers are investing money to “warehouse people” instead of correcting them. And when they’re finally released from jail, they come back into communities and have difficulty acclimating back to society.

    “It would behoove us in society to figure out a way to find the necessary funds to make sure that the people we are sending to prison are really getting the resources that they need to correct themselves. Because right now, it’s not happening at all,” Adams said.

    For his part, Adams is offering his resources to those who he believes are in a similar spot he was in. He’s now representing Richard Beranek, who believes he was wrongly convicted in 1990 of a 1989 sexual assault in Dane County. Beranek is serving decades of prison time at the Oshkosh Correctional Institution, according to online court records.

    Adams said Beranek has six alibi witnesses and government receipts showing he was nowhere near Wisconsin at the time of the incident. The witnesses testified in the original case but it wasn’t enough to persuade the jury.

    “It still wasn’t enough to go against the state’s witness who produced a federal agent who stood before the jury and said that a hair found at the scene had similarities to the hair of Richard,” Adams said.

    Decades after the case, the FBI began ordering its agents to stop using the hair sampling technique in its cases because it was unreliable. Adams called it “junk science.”

    “So here we are, and we have to fight tooth and nail to just get Richard in front of a jury again just to hear the evidence,” said Adams.

    Adams said he’s frustrated by the pace of the current case, saying it’s stuck in a legal limbo of briefings on the testing technique used on the physical evidence linking Beranek to the crime.

    “Each day that goes past is an innocent man not only being in prison, but if this woman was raped as she claims that she was, well then we have someone who raped a lady that is still roaming free right now in the community,” Adams said.

    Perhaps no one is more understanding of those each passing days as Adams is. It’s been 10 years to the month since he’s been released. He’s now 36 and prepared to use his Loyola University law degree to help Beranek and others like him.

  • The Role Of Undocumented Immigrants In American Farming

    In the midst of heightened immigration enforcement, and with a new border wall on the way, a guest talks about the role of undocumented immigrants in American farming–and what their absence might mean for food production.

Episode Credits

  • Rob Ferrett Host
  • Veronica Rueckert Host
  • J. Carlisle Larsen Producer
  • Judith Siers-Poisson Producer
  • Rob Ferrett Producer
  • Nahal Toosi Guest
  • Jarrett Adams Guest
  • Brian Barth Guest