INNOCENCE:   "HARD SELL"

America's "wrongful conviction epidemic" is common knowledge. It's hard to downplay the fact that "nearly 3 people per week" have been exonerated of crimes for which they have been imprisoned. The documented 1,825 exonerations of Americans since 1989, on the National Registry of Exonerations by Michigan School of Law are the "tip of the iceberg" predicted by famed Attorney Barry Scheck. According to Scheck's Innocence Project, "two-thirds of all DNA-cleared exonerations involved mistaken identifications by witnesses."

JOSEPH BELARDE GARCIA, California inmate # H-01695, has served 27 years of his "72.5 to Life" sentence on a wrongful conviction. His 1989 DNA evidence that would today exonerate him "went missing" soon after his conviction, and so the Innocence Projects cannot help him.

Despite that each of Joe's alibis checked out for the time of each incident, 8 women pointed a finger at Joe at trial identifying him as their assailant, contradicting police reports as to multiple assailants of different races, ages, builds, "M.Os," Prosecutor Teresa Estrada Mullaney convinced a jury that Garcia was the non-existent "Central Coast Serial Rapist."

Ventura County Attorney Wendy C. Lascher, replied to Garcia's request for pro bono assistance: "I hate injustice... Unfortunately, however, I am not in a position to take on any pro bono exoneration in hope of winning eventual literary rights (In fact, I already have the rights to a share of another inmate's future book)." Joe's story is detailed on Amazon -"PAST MISTAKES - and the Carefully Crafted Central Coast Rapist" - ww.Amzn.com/dp/B019LQKCXI - An NBC TV network producer expressed interest in Joe's story after browsing the book, so Joe had hope. But, 3 months later, that producer wrote that she decided not to develop Joe's story stating it was a "hard sell."

Where does that leave the Joe Garcia? He rejected an Alford Plea - a plea of "guilty" that does not admit the act and at the same time asserts innocence. On September 16, 2016, as was explained on the record, Garcia was denied parole because "We also considered your claim of innocence, and today we found that implausible... and not believable," despite that California Codes prohibit basing parole decisions on claim of innocence.

Insight, Remorse, Culpability and Responsibility are the tenets for parole decisions. All four hinge largely on "admitting guilt" and understanding the full impact of one’s offense. This is obviously a challenge for an inmate who maintains that he's innocent because he is. It leaves him with the same failed system that incarcerated him, and with "jailhouse lawyers" composing his appeals, and his "Petition for Clemency and Commutation of Sentence Based on Innocence" (Case Number, COM-2211-14) gathering dust on California Governor Jerry Brown's desk since August 9, 2014 without response.

"Hard sell," indeed.

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