Saturday, July 11, 2015

Black man who can’t pay bail has spent 6 years behind bars — but hasn’t been convicted of anything

Warren McClinton has now spent nearly his entire 4th decade of life behind bars waiting for trial, even though he has never been convicted of any of the crimes he’s accused of in the case.

The 48-year-old Las Vegas man is facing seven charges related to sexual assault. Last month, a jury threw out an eighth, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports. The judge hearing his case, Eric Johnson, said he was "shocked" with how much time McClinton has been in custody.

"I am very interested in considering the issue of bail," the judge said, according to the Review-Journal. "I have real concerns with the amount of time he has been in custody. Frankly, when I got this case, I was shocked."

McClinton’s bail has been set at $130,000. He’s been fighting the charges since 2009, when a 14-year-old girl accused him of sexual assault. His attorney, Ozzie Fumo, told the Review-Journal that McClinton is innocent and that the case has already been dismissed, but prosecutors have nevertheless insisted on pursuing it.

"He’s just not guilty," Fumo told the paper. "He’s innocent."

A judge threw out an indictment against him in 2009 because prosecutors didn’t reveal DNA evidence linking two other men to the accuser. When the grand jury heard the case again with that evidence and testimony from the accuser, her mother and McClinton, they deliberated for 30 minutes before dismissing the case.

At this point, McClinton was free, but a short time later, prosecutors had convinced a judge there was enough evidence to charge him and he was again jailed, the Review-Journal reports.

In the six years he’s been jailed, prosecutors have tried to offer him two plea deals: five years to life, then two years to life. He refused both.

According to the paper, prosecutors insist on McClinton’s high bail because they consider him a flight risk. According to the Review-Journal:

Prosecutors argue that McClinton, who uses multiple aliases, four Social Security numbers and three dates of birth, is a flight risk. He’s been charged in Nevada, Illinois and Virginia with various crimes, such as domestic battery, driving under the influence of alcohol and unlawful possession of a firearm. He’s also failed to appear in court 39 times, prosecutors said.

But according to Fumo, most of McClinton’s missed court dates were due to system errors and were not his fault. For instance, after paying a citation at court, the ticket went to warrant 34 more times until it was corrected in the court computers.

In another instance, he was given only two hours notice that he needed to be in court. In yet another, he was in custody on a robbery charge that was later dropped when ordered to court.

His attorney described McClinton as "very frustrated" and called his high bail and continued incarceration "punishment prior to conviction."

McClinton isn’t the only person who has spent years locked up without a conviction.

Kalief Browder spent three years jailed at Rikers in solitary confinement after being accused of stealing a backpack at 16, the New York Times reports. Browder committed suicide last month.

Original report here

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