The time is always right, to do what is right. MLK
So last week we were invited to the 25th anniversary celebration of the Innocence project. If you don’t know about the Innocence Project, I urge you to check them out at innocenceproject.org and from there you can find the chapter in your state. If you’re not familiar on the “About Us”, on their website it simply states The Innocence Project, founded in 1992 by Peter Neufeld and Barry Scheck at Cardozo School of Law, exonerates the wrongly convicted through DNA testing and reforms the criminal justice system to prevent future injustice.
But truly what they do for these people and the hope they bring to their families is so much more than what these few sentences can say.
The stories from the exonerees are not to be believed. The night itself was so emotional, moving and inspiring. Meryl Streep was the keynote and Joan Baez sang and recalled stories of her time with Dr. Martin Luther King protesting for equal rights in the 60’s. I had just watched her be inducted into the rock and roll hall of fame on TV so it was incredible to hear her and see her in the flesh a few days later. I felt like I knew her, Hey Joan what’s up? Ha-ha we weren’t that close to her but it was cool to see her. Just to be in the presence of someone who was so close to such an important part of history and how she has dedicated her entire life to be a voice for voiceless is amazing.
A few months back my daughter Mary Jane and I drove across country together and along the way we listened to a lot of podcasts. One of them was The School of Greatness with Lewis Howes. Great podcast, inspiring dude, he was recently on Ellen so you may have caught him on there. One of his guests was this guy Jason Flom, who is a music producer who discovered major talent like Katy Perry amongst others. What I didn’t know is that Jason is on the board of the innocence project and has a whole entire podcast dedicated to telling the stories of the men and women that the project helps. So after listening to him on Lewis Howes, (who by the way was there at the event and I was bummed because I would have loved to have met him but I didn’t know until afterwards when he posted a picture on the instagram.) So we started listening to Jason’s podcast Wrongful Conviction, and we quickly became obsessed and binge listened to every single one and I can’t recommend his podcast enough.
He has high profile cases like Amanda Knox on there and Marty Tankleff, if you’re from NY you remember him. He was convicted of killing his parents the night before his senior year of high school was to start right here on Long Island. He served 17 years for a crime he didn’t commit. As well as fascinating cases you never heard of before like the case of Sunny Jacobs, among others. If you’re going to listen to any, definitely check out episode 4 the wrongful conviction of Sunny Jacobs. It really is not to be believed what this woman lived through or what any of the exonerees had to endure before Innocence Project took on their cases.
All of the stories are incredible I only name a few more well known ones so you can get a mind set for what its all about but each and every story is frightening, sad, and then eventually inspiring. What the human spirit can endure and over come is remarkable. Against all odds these people never gave up hope and faith that the truth would prevail. Some with little to no education taught themselves the law and helped themselves get out of prison. One man who spoke at the event never made it past 8th grade but was like ok no one is helping me get out of here so I’m going to help myself. And figured out how to write papers he could present to the court.
There are many reasons why people are wrongly accused and convicted. Wrong place wrong time, incompetent attorney, corrupt DA or judges and an occasional corrupt detective. I would like to think that most, the majority of police officers, lawyers and judges want to help you and get to the bottom of what really happened so the right person who did the heinous crime is off the streets and put behind bars.
Unfortunately, like a lot of our “systems” the judicial system needs work like everything else. Some of the old practices are completely out of touch in this day and age. And sometimes it’s not the truth they are going for but a conviction. I know outstanding police officers that would never knowingly falsify evidence to convict an innocent person, but just like every other line of work there are great ones and some bad ones too.
And if you think that being in the wrong place at the wrong time could never happen to you or someone you love, well all I have to say about that is I pray you are right because one of the worst things in the world I could think of happening is having someone you love, spouse, child whomever be incarcerated for something they didn’t do. It actually used to be a fear of mine growing up. Being wrongly accused, who knows why, kind of an odd fear for a kid to have. Maybe previous life. But then I became a mom and I knew, oh, ok, I can handle anything that happens to me but dear god don’t let it happen to them. So for all of the mother’s of these people I say a special prayer for them to stay strong. Who knows why we get the life that we get, but there but for the grace of god go all of us.
Our system(s) political, education, judicial clearly are not working and all need an overhaul. Just because something has always been a certain way doesn’t mean it has to or should stay that way.
Look at the mayor of New Orleans, Mitch Landrieu who took down the statue of Robert E Lee. I’m sure some people are like well, that’s part of history etc. Yeah but should we really have the confederate flag flying or statues of people who were for perpetuating slavery? I don’t think so.
Prisons are a business and they employ a lot of people. It’s like a self-contained small city and you know how much money it takes to run the city and there are power trips and people who benefit from keeping prisons full. I am so thankful there are people like the men and women who work so hard for what is right like the people who work for Innocence Project.
Side note, I sent my husband Mark an episode of Wrongly Accused and he was like, oh yeah, I know him. What do you mean you know him? He’s like “I played golf with him in a thing a few times. I told you all about the round last summer.”
Oh sorry, maybe if you had said I played against Jason Flom from the Innocence Project/music mogul I would have recalled. Got caught not listening again to a riveting shot by shot account of a golf tournament. Oops, ha-ha sorry honey, I support you and I’ll try to listen next time. (note to self, practice sleeping with eyes open…)
So like I said, look them up, get involved if you can and I assure you after listening to Wrongful Conviction you will be moved by their stories. As Dr. King said, the time is always right to do what is right.
Still reading The Rythm of Life. If you listened to the podcast that I did with Evelyn O’Doherty we talked about this book by Matthew Kelly. We hope to meet in June to do another podcast about Part 1. There are so many nuggets of wisdom in this book and I hope you check it out. I would love to make that episode a little more interactive so if you want to read with us, Part 1 is only like 40 pages long. But its just so rich with knowledge and thought provoking great info that we thought we would do a 7 part series for the 7 parts in the book so we really can soak it all in. So Rhythm of Life, Matthew Kelly, check it out.
I am also reading a book by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant called Option B. Sheryl’s husband Dave Goldberg tragically dies while they were on vacation in the hotel gym. And obviously her life is forever altered but as the cover of the book says, (and yes, I judged it), Option B Facing adversity, building resilience, and finding joy.
A great quote from Sheryl when she was having to face an obstacle alone without her husband and her friend gave her the scenario and she was like I don’t want to do any of that. I want Dave to be here. And her friend says to her “Option A is not available so let’s kick the shit out of Option B”
Which is a quote I love and just like Innocence Project people, it’s like ok, I can feel sorry for myself and wallow about something I have no power over changing or I can accept my new reality and kick the shit out of it. What do the Marines say? Improvise, adapt and over come.
Shit happens, what are you going to do about it? Make yourself and your family proud, or ask god why me?
The last podcast I want to talk about is Jocko Willink’s podcast, Jocko Podcast. I heard him on Joe Rogan the other day and it was great, made me go back and listen to many of his 75+ podcasts that he was compelled, thankfully to do after being on Tim Ferris podcast, another great one and Tim and Joe both said to him, dude, you need your own podcast. It’s not for everyone, its about war and battle and honor and character and what it takes to be a warrior. He’s an intense guy but was born to be a warrior. A man who was born to be in the military. He was a Navy Seal for 20 years and then wrote a book with Leif Babin, called Extreme Ownership as well as a kid’s novel called The Way of the Warrior Kid.
My dad would have been all over this podcast if he were alive to listen to podcast’s. Actually he would have been a great person to do a podcast as he was an unbelievable story teller and his favorite stories were history and battles and talking about strength of character and great people in history. His heroes were all warriors and cowboys.
But this podcast that talks about what it means to be a Navy Seal, the ultimate warriors. He has other Navy Seals on and they talk about specific battles and what it’s like to be in the military and be a leader. What does it take to have other people follow you into hell and be honored to be there. Extreme Ownership is all about accountability and responsibility and understanding who you are what your strengths are. A no holds barred account of what its like to be in war and why. As Memorial Day Weekend approaches I urge you to listen not to the media and not to the politicians but to first hand accounts from great men and women who are sacrificing everything and their families are sacrificing everything to complete their mission. And they often talk about how thankful and appreciative the people, the mothers, the fathers the children who don’t want to live under al quida or isis. They want help, they need help. We can sit back in LaLa Land and be critical and pass judgment but to be there first hand, we have no idea what life is like in these places. No matter where you stand in the political spectrum you have to admit, we have no idea what it would be like to have battles fought in our backyard. If you want to hear a very real and very realistic account on what it means and what it takes to be a warrior listen to this podcast. It’s not always easy to listen to, but it’s real and if you want to understand what these men and women go through I urge you to listen. As much as we all wish there were no reason for war the bottom line is, we are inherently savages and there are people out there who want to harm us. Is it right? No, but it is what it is. And these are the people you want keeping us all safe.
Its also John Wayne’s birthday today, one of my father’s tip top heroes. I think that it is a direct result growing up an only child with a father who treated me the way he was going to treat me regardless of gender. He was a history buff with a fascination on wars, battles fought, great leaders, war movies, westerns, which he called cowboy pictures. That I love all of this stuff as well. So I will leave you with a John Wayne quote that my dad would always end his emails or correspondence with, Courage is being afraid but saddling up anyway. To which I would usually reply, ok, I was just emailing you to see if you wanted to come over for dinner Tuesday but, I’ll try to be brave till then dad. Hahah good stuff.
Thanks for listening
Work hard, have fun, be nice.