My name is Danny, and I'm wrongfully convicted of a crime I never committed. It happens a lot more than you might think. Which is the reason so many Innocence Projects have been popping up all over the country. Anyone who has ever been involved with our justice system knows that it runs about as well as any other government bureaucracy, which is not too well. Throw in a good measure of politics, such as elected judges and elected district attorneys and you have a recipe for disaster. People are only now starting to recognize this, and State and Federal officials are only now starting to admit that it's a problem.
In fact, it's not only a problem, it's a monster. The FBI estimated that 26% of the people in prison are not guilty of the crime for which they are charged. That's a lot of people. That's one in four. So, there is no way the Innocence Proejcts can keep up with the flood of people that need help. I feel State officials founded the Innocence Projects simply as a political stunt, because there's no way that small of a group of people can address this problem. It's a band-aid on a shotgun wound. It won't solve the problem.
This is similar to the appellate review process, which is all for the "appearance of justice," when in fact, politics drives the process. The reality of the situation is that you can only get as much justice as you can afford to pay for. The less money you have, the less justice you'll get. Lawyers are very expensive and good lawyers are even more expensive. I've wasted my money and my family's money on one good lawyer and the rest bad.
The trouble is, you can't tell if you've hired a bad lawyer until you hire them. One clue is, good lawyers answer your calls and letters, bad ones don't. So, if you can't contact your lawyer, they don't return your calls or answer your letters, they're a bad lawyer, and will seldom do you any good. They'll only take your money.
There's an old saying: "Either get a really good lawyer or a really bad lawyer." A really good lawyer might actually be able to help, and with a really bad lawyer, you can always complain about how bad he was. It's all of the ones in the middle that are mostly useless. Not good enough to do any good, but not bad enough to know they're bad.
My case was a high profile case that was very politically charged, since the trial was on an election year. Even my one good lawyer wasn't able to overcome a politically ambitious district attorney and a corrupt judge. He was the only lawyer that did any good, and I'd like to hire him again, but I can't afford it. Which is really bad timing, because the crooked District Attorney was run out of office, and the bad judge retired.
But even with the trial judge and district attorney gone, I still have to overcome the apellate judges, who defend their fellow judges and the justice system by any means. Which includes, lying about the law, making up new laws, and simply changing the facts to suit themselves. I've even had a federal district judge misquote Supreme Court Law, and use it to deny me relief. Incredibly, when I brought this to the attention of the Supreme Court, they didn't want to hear the case.
In my case the prosecution and the jury relied on the opinion of the State's expert to find me guilty. Which means it will take more expert opinion to show the truth. Only problem is, most experts will only deal with an attorney, so you have to hire the attorney first to even talk to an expert.
This creates the problem of having to convince the attorney that they need an expert. Attorneys have their own way of doing things and most of them are very expensive and slow.
My current attorney got the last bit of money I had. And after one year of being on the case, she hasn't done the first thing I asked her to do, which was get an opinion from an expert. So, now I'm a bit stuck. No money to get a good attorney and no results from the one I have. My solution, sell my paintings. My paintings are really just for venting. A catharsis for all of the frustrations and horrors that have become my life. A way to cope in a very difficult situation.
I have met entire groups of people that I would otherwise never have met. Corrupt district attorneys, that hide the truth and lie simply for the sake of winning, and moving up the political ladder. Crooked judges, that take bribes, kickbacks, and extort money from people who can hardly afford it. Flagrant criminals that are a danger to themselves and other people. I once thought that there are no truly evil people. That people were just people. Sometimes good, sometimes bad. But this episode of my life has made me question that concept. Some people are truly evil. Their goals and ambitions do not consider the welfare of other people in any way. They are abberations of our society. They think only of themselves.
This is a view of people I'd never seen before. A glimpse at their inner self.A seldom seen view of the person they really are. As if they were wearing their soul on the outside, instead of on the inside as you normally see them.
This is what most of my art is based on. A view of the inner person as their outward appearance. A surrealistic view of a creature you often won't recognize. The monster within playing on the outside. A glimpse of them out of the corner of your eye. That strange something that you thought you saw, but when you look again, it's not there.
To me it seems that most government officials look like either snakes, devils, pigs, or slugs. It's as if they have retained some of their evolutionary past. Their snake genes or their pig genes are still being physically expressed.
So, there is a lot of symbolism in my art. Because I can only paint what I see them as. And the mind plays strange tricks on the eye. Always trying to push it into something that is familiar. The blob of a face resembles a slug, or the cusp of a tooth looks like a fang. The hair looks matted, but are those really snakes? All of these things that you would normally dismiss as an illusion, become quite real when in the stress of the wrong environment. So, I hope you find the alternative view interesting, because I could really use the money. A view from a different set of eyes. A different truth.
Pablo Picasso once said, "Art is the lie that makes you realize the truth." While my mind may be playing tricks with my eye, it may be the lie that makes people see the truth. Art has always been the conscience of a society, and I hope that this art will help to make our society a bit more aware of some of the failings of our justice system. The prison term is, "I'm here to lace you up about the truth."