Ladies and gentlemen of the jury. Today we are going to show the court why the decision to find Christopher Roy guilty of murder was unjust…

“The Law is a mighty machine... Woe to the unfortunate man who, wholly or in part innocent, becomes entangled in its mighty wheels, unless his innocence is patent or his rescue planned and executed by able counsel. The machine will grind on relentlessly and ruthlessly, and blindfolded justice does not see that the grist is sometimes stained with blood." -Edward Johnes, “The Pardoning Power From a Philosophical Standpoint” (1893)

Who Is Christopher Roy?


If one was to go by the standard methodology of our nation’s current prison system, Christopher Roy would simply be inmate number K8649 – a convicted murderer serving a life sentence since the age of 18 in Mississippi’s high-risk unit of Parchman prison. He would be labeled, thrown away, and forgotten – deemed unworthy of restorative efforts and considered a blemish on civilized society. But Chris, like the millions of other men and women incarcerated across the country, is far more than just his DOC number, conviction, and sentence …especially when that sentence is unjust. Christopher Roy is a son, a brother, a husband, and a friend. He is a multi-talented artist, motivational speaker, fitness enthusiast, entrepreneur, and outspoken advocate for the voiceless and marginalized. With his endless drive and determination, Chris continues to educate and advance himself while reaching for a second chance. You can read Chris’ bio, along with his latest writings and efforts in the pursuit of justice, throughout the pages of the Unjust element.



Author

Published by New Pulp Press, Chris is the author of the Shocking Circumstances and Sharp as a Razor trilogies, as well as numerous, independent short stories. Read more about his writings on the Ue Novels page.


Artist

Self-taught in a variety of mediums, Chris often uses improvised materials such as candy and soot to finish his works. View galleries and learn more about his techniques on the Ue Art page.


Coach

Dedicated to fitness training and mental stamina for the past 20 years, Chris has been an inspiration to those around him. His new motivational blog series aims to cultivate awareness in all of you. Tuck into the positivity of Presence of Mind.


Advocate

Whether mobilizing those around him to action, or lending his talents to aid individuals around the world, Chris believes that each of us can lend a helping hand. There is joy to be found in Advocacy work, even from behind prison walls.


“People are not magically different on their 18th birthday, their brains are still maturing, and the criminal justice system should find a way to take that into account.” - Elizabeth Scott, Professor of law at Columbia University


How Long Has He Been Incarcerated?


On October 17, 2001, following a 3- day trial, Judge Dale Harkey sentenced Christopher Roy to Life in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections. Continue to the Incident, Trial and Sentencing, and Appeals pages to learn what led to his incarceration.


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Days In The Mississippi DOC

Why Does It Matter?




“For exonerations in specific crime categories: The rate of Perjury or False Accusations is highest in child sex abuse cases (84%) and homicide cases (68%). ” – The National Registry of Exonerations.

As of 2015, a record of 149 people (58 for homicide/54 of that for murder) were exonerated in unjust conviction cases in which “the exonerated defendants had served, on average, more than 14 years in prison.” As the Equal Justice Initiative notes: “Perjury or false accusations have contributed to more than half of wrongful convictions, and nearly half involve misconduct by government officials.” A 2016 article Nearly three people a week in US exonerated of crimes last year by Alan Yuhas in theGuardian noted that “misconduct by investigators, attorneys and officials was a factor in 75% of the murder exonerations and more than 40% of all exonerations in 2015” (as seen in the National Registry’s report). **The 2016 updated report states: “Forty-two percent of exonerations in 2016 included official misconduct (70/166). Official misconduct encompasses a range of behavior — from police threatening witnesses to forensic analysts falsifying test results to child welfare workers pressuring children to claim sexual abuse where none occurred. But the most common misconduct documented in the cases in the Registry involves police or prosecutors (or both) concealing exculpatory evidence. The proportion of exonerations with official misconduct is the highest among homicide Cases — more than two-thirds of the homicide exonerations involved misconduct by official actors (42/54).”

According to a special edition of Time magazine (2017): Innocent, The Fight Against Wrongful Convictions, 25 Years of the Innocent Project – “There have been 1,956 exonerations since 1989. **[update as of March 2017 that number has climbed to 2000 exonerations]** These cases likely represent a small fraction of all innocent prisoners.”

Latest data as of March 2017 shows that 2016 was another record-breaking year in exonerations – the third straight year in a row! The newest report from the National Registry of Exonerations shows “166 exonerations (so far) in [2016 across] in 25 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.” Of the 166, 54 were exonerated of homicide convictions (52 for murder, 2 for manslaughter).

Chris’ sentence is based on such false accusation and misconduct. You can read more about Unreliable Convictions on the EJI website here

And go in depth with The National Registry of Exonerations on the issues of:
Basic Exoneration Patterns , Tainted Identifications and Misconduct , and read the 2015 report from Registy/University of Michigan Law School to understand the full scope of just how many innocent people are being held within our Nation’s prisons.

According to The Sentencing Project’s 2014-15 report:

“The United States is the world’s leader in incarceration with 2.2 million people currently in the nation’s prison and jails – a 500% increase over the last forty years. Changes in sentencing law and policy, not changes in crime rates, explain most of this increase. These trends have resulted in prison overcrowding and fiscal burdens on states to accommodate a rapidly expanding penal system, despite increasing evidence that large-scale incarceration is not an effective means of achieving public safety.”

Continue reading to learn more about this and other Trends in U.S. Corrections.

According to the Prison Policy Initiative, Mississippi, where Chris is housed, if it were its own country, would carry an incarceration rate of 843 out of every 100,000 people – that number is greater than the United States as a whole and all other countries in the world.

Mississippi’s focus (as a whole) leans towards incarcerating its citizens rather than on educating them. In fact, as Jerry Mitchell notes in his 2014 article for the Clarion Ledger – Mississippi ‘addicted to incarceration’, “Mississippi spends three times more to incarcerate an inmate for a year — $15,151 — than it does to educate a student”

Continue reading to learn more about the Global Context of Incarceration 2016 and Mass Incarceration 2016

An April 18, 2016 article by Tim Requarth titled Neuroscience Is Changing the Debate Over What Role Age Should Play in the Courts highlighted a set of experiments conducted by B.J. Casey, director of the Sackler Institute for Developmental Psychobiology at Cornell’s Weill Medical College, that asked the question “At what age do people gain the ability to control themselves in emotionally charges situations?”

From the article: “The idea [for the experiment] was that [the conditions] would create a sustained period of heightened emotion. It was inspired by the circumstances of criminal behavior: Many crimes by the young are in emotionally or socially charged situations. The question, says Casey, is, Why, in the heat of the moment, under threat, do they pull the trigger, even when they know better? The results of her experiment involving negative stimulus were striking: 18- to 21-year-olds were less able than 22- to 25-year-olds to restrain themselves…In fact, under the threatening condition, says Casey, the 18- to 21-year olds “weren’t much better than teenagers.” The brain scanners revealed a telltale pattern: Areas in the prefrontal cortex that regulate emotion showed reduced activity, while areas linked to emotional centers were in high gear.

These results support previous brain-imaging studies and postmortem examinations. Brain areas involved in reasoning and self-control, such as the prefrontal cortex, are not fully developed until the mid-20s—a far later age than previously thought. Brain areas involved in emotions such as desire and fear, however, seem to be fully developed by 17. This pattern of brain development creates a perfect storm for crime: Around the ages of 18 to 21, people have the capacity for adult emotions yet a teenager’s ability to control them….

In many countries, 18 as the threshold for adulthood is already a thing of the past. In Germany, it has been age 21 since 1953, and in Switzerland it’s 25… It’s easy to forget that the legal definition of an adult is a cultural construct pieced together over 100 years ago, around the time when juvenile courts were first established; this cutoff has no real empirical basis.”

“The number of people serving life sentences continues to grow even while serious, violent crime has been declining for the past 20 years and little public safety benefit has been demonstrated to correlate with increasingly lengthy sentences. The lifer population has more than quadrupled since 1984. [Nationally,] one in nine people in prison is now serving a life sentence and nearly a third of lifers have been sentenced to life without parole.” – The Sentencing Project

Read the article Life Goes On: The Historic Rise in Life Sentences in America by Ashley Nellis, Ph.D. here: Life Goes On

According to the ACLU’s 2014 report on The Dangerous Overuse of Solitary Confinement in the United States, “Solitary confinement is the practice of placing a person alone in a cell for 22 to 24 hours a day with little human contact or interaction; reduced or no natural light; restriction or denial of reading material, television, radios or other property; severe constraints on visitation; and the inability to participate in group activities, including eating with others. While some specific conditions of solitary confinement may differ among institutions, generally the prisoner spends 23 hours a day alone in a small cell with a solid steel door, a bunk, a toilet, and a sink. Human contact is restricted to brief interactions with corrections officers and, for some prisoners, occasional encounters with health care providers or attorneys. Family visits are limited; almost all human contact occurs while the prisoner is in restraints and behind a partition. Many prisoners are only allowed one visit per month, if any. The amount of time a person spends in solitary confinement varies, but it can last for months, years, or even decades.”

“About 75,000 people in the United States are held in solitary confinement, spending 23 or more hours a day in small cells, allowed out only for showers, brief exercise, or medical visits, without telephone calls or visits from family members. The use of long-term isolation escalated after “tough on crime” policies led states to build super-maximum-security prisons in the 1980s and 1990s. Studies show that people held in long-term solitary confinement suffer from anxiety, paranoia, perceptual disturbances, and deep depression. Nationwide, suicides among people held in isolation, who make up 3 to 8 percent of the nation’s prison population, account for about 50 percent of prison suicides. Some states and the federal government recently enacted reforms to restrict solitary confinement for juveniles and people with mental illness and to reduce the maximum time that can be spent in solitary.” – Equal Justice Initiative on Prison Conditions

“You could fit 19 solitary cells, each measuring a tiny 6×9 feet, inside the footprint of the average one-bedroom apartment. A solitary cell is smaller than the average apartment bathroom and no bigger than the bed most of us sleep on.” – Jennings Brown, Here’s How Many Solitary Prison Cells Fit In Your Apartment

Chris has spent nearly 10 years of his 17-year incarceration in segregative (supermax and maximum security) housing in the MDOC. With the uncontrolled lockdowns in Parchman’s Unit 29 happening for months at a time, he spends most days (all 24 hrs except for a shower 3 times a week and no time outside) in his tiny, dilapidated cell with limited access to sunlight, fresh air, socialization, and proper nutrition.

“Access to an attorney means little if they lack the time, resources, or skills to be an effective advocate…Across the country, public defenders or assigned counsel are too often forced to juggle hundreds of cases at once, giving short shrift to investigation, case preparation, and legal research; they often meet their clients for the first time minutes before critical proceedings. Moreover, public defenders are frequently outgunned by prosecutors armed with greater resources, larger staffs, and a partnership with the local police department. ” –ACLU

“’Bad lawyering’ is drawing increased attention as a factor associated with erroneous conviction……Even if prosecutors fail in their duties, we expect a suspect’s attorney to zealously investigate and defend his case. As Bernhard (2001: 227-228) explains, ‘[i]t [is] the defense counsel’s responsibility to protect [the innocent] from the mistakes of others: from witnesses’ misidentifications, police officers’ rush to judgment, and prosecution’s reluctance to reveal potentially exculpatory material.’ Yet, as a Columbia University study of capital appeals found, ineffective defense lawyering was the biggest contributing factor to the erroneous conviction or death sentence of criminal defendants in capital cases over a 23-year period (Liebman et al., 2000). The central reason behind ineffective representation is inadequate funding, an absence of quality control, and a lack of motivation (American Bar Association, 2006). The attorney may be so rushed that he fails to communicate with his client or communicates ‘in a dismissive, callous or hurried manner’ (Berry, 2003: 490). He may make perfunctory attempts at discovery, if any; engage in a narrow or shallow investigation; neglect to retain needed experts or test physical evidence; fail to prepare for trial; or offer ‘weak trial advocacy and superficial or tentative cross-examination’ (Berry, 2003: 490). The result is a cascade of errors that dilutes or even destroys the barrier provided by an effective advocate between an innocent defendant and an erroneous conviction.” – Gould, Carrano, Leo, and Young (2013) Predicting Erroneous Convictions: A Social Science Approach to Miscarriages of Justice and as noted in Miscarriages of Justice: Actual Innocence, Forensic Evidence, and the Law, Brent Turvey and Craig Cooley (2014)

“The problem of incompetent defense attorneys is largely a problem associated with the poor. This is because the indigent in this country are appointed counsel to defend them, who are largely overworked, underpaid, and devoid of resources; in contrast, the more affluent defendants are able to secure private counsel with the resources needed for their defense. The majority of criminal defendants in this country are indigent. Estimates are that 80% of criminal defendants require court-appointed counsel (Williams, 2002, p.249). The Bureau of Justice Statistics (2001) reported similar statistics when looking at criminal defendants and the poor. In a study looking at indigent criminal defense programs in the largest 100 counties in the country, it was found that public defenders handled 82% of all criminal cases (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2001, p.1). Perhaps more troubling is that these numbers increase for capital cases- approx. 90% of these defendants are indigent (Cawley, 2007, p. 1). These are startling statistics which suggest that the occurrences of the poor being convicted of crimes and ineffective indigent counsel should be studied as co-occurring phenomena.” – Virginia Hatch (2009) Ineffective Assistance of Counsel and the U.S. Supreme Court: History and Development of a Constitutional Standard

As noted above, ineffective assistance of counsel (IAC), is often a significant contributing factor to an individual obtaining an unjust sentence. Additionally, IAC cases are frequently associated with situations in which the defendant is indigent. Unfortunately Chris, as the pages of Ue will show, was represented by both sets of statistics.

Read Chris’ short blog post about getting a second chance through parole here.
  • Connector.

    United States of Incarceration

    The United States has less than five percent of the world’s population, but is home to roughly 22% of its prison population.

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    Sentencing Innocents to Life...and Death

    Of the total 149 exonerated in 2015, 39% (58) had been convicted of homicide. Five had been sentenced to death, 19 to life (usually without parole), and the rest to decades in prison.” – Nat. Reg. of Exonerations

  • Connector.

    False Confessions From Faulty Investigation

    “Studies suggest that even investigators with decades of experience are only about 54% accurate at judging when a suspect is honest or deceitful” (Alan Yuhas, theguardian)…leading to an increased risk of false confession from coersion and harmful investigative tactics

  • Connector.

    Overburdened & Ineffectual Public Defenders

    “Only 27 percent of county-based and 21 percent of state-based public defender’s offices have enough lawyers to appropriately handle their caseloads.” – Justice Policy Institute

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    Trillions Wasted on Prison Industrial Complex

    “Prison system costs now account for 1 out of every 15 state general fund discretionary dollars. Criminal justice is the second-fastest-growing category of state budgets, behind only Medicaid, and 90% of that spending goes to prisons…wasting trillions of dollars on an ineffective and unjust criminal justice system.” – ACLU


U.S. Percentage Of The World's Prison Population
22%
Exonerated Homicide Defendants in 2015
39%
Percentage Of Youth In The U.S. Arrested By Age 23
41%
Half Of Exonerees Claimed Ineffective Assistance Of Counsel
50%
Accuracy Of Investigators In Determining Truth
54%
Percentage of 2016 Exonerations Involving Violent Crimes
56%
Percentage Of 2015 Exonerated Murder Convictions Involving Off. Misconduct
75%
Recidivism Rate For Offenders Aged 18-24
78%
Percentage Of Capital Cases Handled By Public Defenders
82%
Conviction Rate of Defendants Using Public Defenders
88%
Percentage Of National State Budgets Going Towards Prisons
90%

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. - Letter from Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963


What Will You Find on Ue?


In addition to the personal sections about Chris mentioned above – his bio, writings, art, etc. the Unjust element also contains detailed information on his case, trial and appeals, as well as newspaper articles from his escapes. In an effort to further discussion regarding his freedom, sections covering the topics of juvenile brain science, current legislation, as well as the constitutionality of Chris’ harsh prison sentence can also be found. Continue below for a larger list of content areas.



The Incident

Timeline of the events surrounding this case.


Trial & Sentencing

Comprehensive list of the court docs from Pretrial to Sentencing.


Appeals

A summary of the arguments and related documents for Chris' two appeals.


In The Press

Related newspaper articles and media from around Mississippi about the case, trial, and escapes.

Updates

The latest news on the status of Chris' appeals & release efforts.


Rationale

An explanation for freedom & the argument for the granting of a new trial.


Legislation

A summary of the House and Senate bills relating to this case - along with their effect.


Similar Cases

Similar cases with different verdicts in MS at the time of Chris' trial.

Legal Science

Research and legal findings regarding the latest in juvenile brain science in relation to Chris' sentence.


Constitution

Where our forefathers got it right, and our current legislators got it wrong.


Help

A listing of ways you can join the Liberation Campaign and help Chris in his fight for freedom.


Testimonials

Feature listing of any testimonials and/or letters of support.

"The worst crimes are not committed by evil degenerates, but by decent and intelligent people taking 'pragmatic' decisions." - Colin Wilson, A Criminal History of Mankind


Writer’s Corner

Keep up to date with Chris’ latest interviews and guest spots, along with sneak peaks into his upcoming releases and promotions here.

Justice Piece

New Feature Coming Soon

Prison Piece

New Feature Coming Soon