[Pnews] Six New Legal Briefs in Support of Sundiata's Release

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Wed Aug 25 16:12:43 EDT 2021


Six New Legal Briefs in Support of Sundiata's Release The briefs focus 
on issues that are germane to Acoli’s parole including Aging and 
Recidivism, Parole Board Bias, Due Process, Racial Disparities...
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  "Friends of the Court" File Six New Arguments for Elderly Sundiata
  Acoli's Release from Prison
  Noting That He's Already Served 48 Years

August 25, 2021 - Six new amicus curiae briefs were filed in the New 
Jersey Supreme Court this month demonstrating the overwhelming legal 
arguments in favor of granting parole to Sundiata Acoli.

Acoli, 84, has been imprisoned since 1973 after conviction of 
first-degree murder in 1973 of a New Jersey State Trooper during a 
shootout on the state turnpike. Despite being eligible for parole since 
1993, the state has denied Acoli’s petition for rlease on parole eight 
times. Acoli is suffering from early dementia and continuing health 
deterioration exacerbated by his hospitalization with Covid-19 last year.

The briefs focus on issues that are germane to Acoli’s case including 
Aging and Recidivism, Parole Board Bias, Due Process, Racial Disparities 
in Parole, and First Amendment violations.

______________________________________________

IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 24, 2021
Media Contact: Heather Hansen
Humanity Communications Collective
Heather at humanitycom.com


“FRIENDS OF THE COURT” FILE SIX NEW ARGUMENTS FOR ELDERLY 
SUNDIATAACOLI’S RELEASE AFTER 48 YEARS IN PRISON


Amici Briefs include Black Law Enforcement Groups Supporting His Release


TRENTON, NEW JERSEY— Six new amicus curiae briefs were filed in the New 
Jersey Supreme Court late yesterday demonstrating the overwhelming legal 
arguments in favor of granting parole to Sundiata Acoli.


Acoli, 84, has been imprisoned since 1973 after conviction of 
first-degree murder in 1973 of a New Jersey State Trooper during a 
shootout on the state turnpike. Despite being eligible for parole since 
1993, the state has denied Acoli’s parole eight times, all of them based 
on procedural technicalities. Acoli is suffering from early dementia and 
continuing health deterioration exacerbated by his hospitalization with 
Covid-19 last year.


The briefs focus on issues that are germane to Acoli’s case including 
Aging and Recidivism, Parole Board Bias, Due Process, Racial Disparities 
in Parole, and First Amendment violations.


“These briefs offer substantive arguments for the New Jersey Supreme 
Court to grant Sundiata parole as soon as possible,” said Soffiyah 
Elijah, Executive Director of Alliance of Families for Justice, who has 
led the amici filings. “The breadth and depth of the issues in these 
briefs provide irrefutable points and compelling arguments based on the 
law and extensive research in support of release coupled with 
significant perspectives important to this case.”


The briefs are intended to provide substantial credence to the case, 
which is awaiting oral arguments before the Court. Amicus curiae is the 
Latin phrase that means "friend of the court." Frequently, a person or 
group who is not a party to an action, but has a strong interest in the 
case, will petition the court for permission to submit a brief with the 
intent of influencing the court's decision. A seventh brief is also 
expected to be filed next week.


One of the most notable briefs includes four National Black law 
enforcement groups, who argue that Acoli has served enough time and 
should be released. The coalition of Black law enforcement organizations 
noted their commitment to community safety as
well as research showing that elderly incarcerated people have low 
recidivism rates, the high financial cost to society to keep them 
imprisoned, and sentencing inequities based on race and racial stereotypes.


“A core component of our justice system includes treating people fairly 
under the law, in this case, Sundiata Acoli, has fulfilled his sentence 
but the state has not upheld its duty to prove his continued 
incarceration is either fair or warranted,” said Ronald Hampton,
Former Executive Director of the National Black Law Enforcement 
Association. “He has served his time, paid his debt to society, and 
deserves to be released.”


In New Jersey, the burden of proof rests on the state to show that the 
defendant poses a risk to public safety or presents a substantial risk 
of recidivism and therefore cannot be eligible for parole.


The U.S. Sentencing Commission has reported a reincarceration rate of 
just 4% for those age 65 and older. The Justice Policy Institute has 
studied cohorts of released elderly inmates and found recidivism rates 
to be -3%.


Over the course of his sentence, Acoli has completed at least 100 
different programs for self-improvement and vocational training. He has 
also participated in numerous programs designed to provide differing 
perspectives and modify behavior, and taught a cognitive-behavioral 
course “Criminal Thinking” for eight years, designed to teach other 
incarcerated individuals how to avoid recidivism upon their release. He 
has not had a disciplinary infraction in 25 years.

Prior to his incarceration, Sundiata Acoli attended college at the age 
of 16, majoring in mathematics, was employed as a computer analyst, 
working for NASA among other organizations, was a member of The Black 
Panther Party, and was active in voter registration efforts during the 
1964 Freedom Summer.


For copies of the briefs along with background information, visit
https://sundiataacolifc.org/ <https://sundiataacolifc.org/>


About Bring Sundiata Home Alliance


The Bring Sundiata Acoli Home Alliance is a project of the National 
Alumni Association of the Black Panther Party to successfully advocate 
for the release of Sundiata Acoli while educating the public about his 
legacy of struggle.


About Humanity Communications Collective


Humanity Communications Collective is a boutique, social justice-driven, 
strategic communications consulting group focused on making human and 
emotional connections. Learn more about at Humanitycom.com

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      *Support the campaign to #BringSundiataHome*


Your support for Sundiata Acoli is crucial to his return home. We have 
mounted a national campaign to build support for his release and we are 
optimistic about the anticipated outcome. Here are 3 ways you can support:

 1. Send a digital postcard to the governor of New Jersey
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    Black police groups call for ex-Black Panther jailed for
    48 years to be released


by Ed Pilkington in New York for The Guardian

A coalition of current and retired Black police officers is calling for 
the release on parole of Sundiata Acoli, a former Black Panther member 
who has been incarcerated for 48 years for the 1973 murder of a New 
Jersey state trooper.

Four Black law enforcement groups have joined forces to press the case 
for Acoli’s parole almost half a century after he was arrested. In an 
amicus brief filed with the New Jersey supreme court, they call his 
continued imprisonment “an affront to racial justice” and accuse the 
parole board of violating the law by repeatedly refusing to set the 
prisoner free.

“Mr Acoli has spent more than half of his life in prison cells the size 
of a parking space, including nearly 20 years as a senior citizen … He 
should be granted parole,” the groups write.

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Members of the Black Panthers have received exceptionally long prison 
sentences. Photograph: David Fenton/Getty Image


    Clergy Pray for the Release of 84-year old Sundiata Acoli


by Dustin Racioppi for notherjersey com

Buffeted by the quaking traffic of 18-wheelers and speeding trucks, a 
dozen faith leaders solemnly peered through chain-link fence over the 
New Jersey Turnpike on Monday afternoon at the onetime site of bloodshed.

Silently in the heat they prayed for Werner Foerster, the state trooper 
who was murdered on the turnpike 48 years ago in a shootout with Black 
power revolutionaries.

But they also prayed for one of the gunmen, Sundiata Acoli, now 84 and 
serving a life sentence in a federal prison in Maryland as part of an 
inmate sharing agreement.

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Photo Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran, notherjersey.com


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