Welcome!

My name is Will Duchon. I live in Stratford, CT.


In 2003 I encountered Mr. Shane Watson, who is currently serving a 25 year to life sentence for second-degree murder. After careful review of the case transcripts, police reports, trial transcripts and other documentation, it became clear to me that Shane is not guilty of this crime. His case is an example of flawed "eyewitness" testimony, an incredibly flimsy prosecution, and essentially a travesty of justice. Shane is 50 years old, and has been in prison since 1993.

I followed up my suspicions about the case with Dr. Jennifer Dysart, currently a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in NYC. Her SUMMARY confirmed my suspicions.



Along with some dedicated friends from Pleasantville Presbyterian Church in Pleasantville, NY, Monroe Congregational Church in Monroe, CT, the fine attorney Robert Boyle of New York City, and our dedicated investigator Doug Walters of Chicago, I am seeking to have Shane's conviction overturned so that ultimately, he will be free to enjoy his life.



This blog is simply a way to share Shane's story as well as new and current information regarding his case. I encourage you to read the posts that describe the details of his case. It is also an opportunity to learn about how flawed the criminal justice system is.

For details of the Shane Watson case, please read the SUMMARY by our investigator, Doug Walters.






Thank you for visiting.

Shane Watson's mailing address:


Mr. Shane Watson

93A 9384

PO Box 8

Otisville, NY 10963



































































Friday, August 19, 2016

The Conviction Integrity Unit/ Thoughts from Shane


Several months ago I wrote to Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark, asking that she take a look at Shane's case in light of the new evidence we have gathered. I mentioned the success of the Conviction Review Unit in Brooklyn, the initiative of Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson. Since the formation of the CRU in 2014, at least 20 wrongfully convicted individuals have been exonerated. Ms. Clark took office as Bronx DA in January of this year, vowing to "breathe new life into the Bronx District Attorney's Office". It seemed timely then, to bring Shane's case of wrongful conviction to her attention.

Today I received a letter from the DA's office. The letter was addressed to our attorney, Robert Boyle: I was sent a copy of the letter as was Terry Leroy, an activist based in Woodstock, NY (Terry is the co-founder of the Haitian People's Support Project) whom I met at a Martin Luther King Jr. rally last January. Terry has since become a supporter of The Opus 30 Mission.

The letter was written by Mr. Seth Steed, of the "Conviction Integrity Unit" of the Bronx DA's office. Mr. Steed stated that his office is aware of our pending appeal hearing before the US Court of Appeals regarding Shane's case. Accordingly, the CIU will not get involved in reviewing Shane's case until the litigation of the Federal hearing has been completed. Obviously, our hope is that the Federal hearing will result in Shane's conviction being vacated, in which case there will be no need for the CIU to look at Shane's case.

The good news in this:
1) The Bronx DA's office has a Conviction Integrity Unit which presumably will undo the scourge of wrongful convictions.
2) In the event that our Federal hearing is unsuccessful, (God forbid), the CIU will at least provide another option for gaining justice for Shane Watson.

In the meantime, we await Shane's Federal hearing and are very hopeful that the Federal Court will see through the many holes in Shane's conviction.

I also received a letter from Shane today. In my most recent letter to him, I asked Shane if he knew David McCallum, the subject of the excellent documentary "Fight for Justice: David + Me" . McCallum spent 29 years in prison after being wrongfully convicted of kidnapping and murder. He was exonerated in 2014. McCallum was released from Otisville Correctional Facility, the same unit where Shane currently is imprisoned. Shane did not know David personally, since Shane was at Fishkill Correctional in 2014, something I should have realized. Shane did say that he wanted Ray Klonsky ( the filmmaker and friend of David McCallum) to read his habeas corpus petition. I've reached out to Mr. Klonsky through the film's Facebook page but have not had a reply.

In my last letter I joked about winning Powerball and what I'd do with all the millions. Shane replied that I was "right on point" about that, and he would do the same (travel, help out a lot of people, and buy a small house on the beach) but that his house "would have to be a little bigger than mine". He also said that he would start some kind of foundation.

Shane wrote that the administration at Otisville is "the worst" of all the facilities he's been in. His mail is overly scrutinized (I had sent him some data from our Facebook page listing his followers and "likes", but this was confiscated by the Otisville administration. He also told me that one of the guards purposely makes Shane walk through a metal detector even though the guard is aware that Shane has a metal rod in one of his legs. Petty things.) Despite this, Shane ended his letter on a positive note: "All of the good news and favorable decisions have come since being here (Otisville) so I can't complain."






Monday, July 11, 2016

"Defusing the Rage"

A recent editorial in the Connecticut Post (We must defuse the rage", July 10, 2016) was well-meaning but heavy on platitudes and short on logic. Statements such as "What we all need is to understand one another better" are pointless and say nothing. Advice to "reassure a neighbor" and "...help the dialogue" sound very cozy, but are meaningless. All the marches, vigils and prayer gatherings of the past have served the purpose of providing outlets for grief and rage, but little else. "All people really want is for these senseless deaths to stop", states the editorial. They don't stop.

The solution to minimizing violent atrocities is not mysterious or abstract. The horrific targeting of blacks and resultant revenge killings will not be solved by or calls to "guide the dialogue", whatever that means. The only way that gun violence will be minimized is through immediate and forceful legislation. The only way that racist policies within police departments will be minimized is by actively changing the culture of these departments.

What we have witnessed of late is still more fallout from a misguided 1965 initiative led by President Lyndon Johnson. In spite of Johnson's strides in civil rights legislation, the Law Enforcement Assistance Act created a system whereby the federal government funded local police forces. This began the sad legacy of militarized police presence in black neighborhoods in Detroit, Philadelphia, New York, Los Angeles, Newark, and other large urban areas, creating contempt, distrust and animosity between residents of those neighborhoods and the police. Fast forward to 2016, and although progress has been made, there are still strong remnants of this kind of targeted and racist law enforcement mentality, and a crisis of mass incarceration. 

Congress must pass strong gun laws, and police leadership must improve the culture of police forces, or nothing will change.  

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The LEAA (1965) and Shane Watson

Professor Elizabeth Hinton's new book FROM THE WAR ON POVERTY TO THE WAR ON CRIME: THE MAKING OF MASS INCARCERATION IN AMERICA traces the origin of our current mass incarceration crisis back to the Law Enforcement Assistance Act of 1965. This legislation empowered the federal government to take an active role in funding and militarizing local police forces in the US, particularly African-American neighborhoods in New York, Detroit, Philadelphia, Newark and Los Angeles.  Ironically,  LEAA was an outgrowth of President Lyndon Johnson's so-called "Great Society" initiatives such as the Voting Rights Act and the Equal Opportunity Act, landmarks in progressive social legislation.  

I am convinced that there is a clear connection between the legacy of the LEAA and cases of wrongful conviction such as Shane's case. Professor Hinton's astounding volume has shed yet more light on the sad legacy of racist law enforcement policies from Johnson's administration through that of Nixon and Reagan, all of which have continued to fester to this day. I share this recent exchange I have had with Professor Hinton. I encourage you to purchase this very important book and read it slowly and carefully.



Dear Professor Hinton,

I've been slowly digesting the wealth of information in your new book, and the more I read the more I am convinced that this work is the most important and cohesive summary/explanation of the atrocious criminal justice system and mass incarceration industry that exists here in the US. 

A sentence on page 5 especially struck me: "....assuming punitive programs continue in their present form, African Americans born after 1965 and lacking a high school diploma are more likely to eventually go to prison than not." 

Shane Watson, who has been in prison since his 1993 wrongful conviction, was born in the Bronx in 1965. I don't know whether or not he graduated high school, but I suspect not. Accordingly, it is not surprising that he encountered problems with the police at a young age, (minor drug charges) and then was chosen as a convenient target to pin a crime on (the shooting death of a paroled drug dealer). 

I was born in 1960 and grew up with a single mother in White Plains, NY, and was encouraged by her example to treat people fairly, sense hypocrisy and racism and speak out against unjust policies and practices, etc. Despite all of this I had never heard of the LEAA (my mother does not recall it either), and your discourse on the punitive and targeted policies resulting from that initiative explained a lot. 

Over the past 12 years of working to exonerate Shane, I have found that people react more strongly and instinctively to injustice once a human face, or a "real person" is attached to the "issue". As a result of reading your book, I now am interested in trying to articulate a correlation between the LEAA and its resulting policies and Shane’s wrongful arrest and conviction. Given that the LEAA was launched in the same year that Shane was born, it seems to me that in a sense his life and the LEAA policies were bound to meet at some point. Would you agree with this? 

By specifically connecting the LEAA policies and Shane's life and case, I feel that a light could be shed on similar cases of wrongful (and even "justified”) convictions. 

If you don't mind, I would like to share with you my results and would appreciate any input.

Thank you,
Will Duchon





Dear Will,

Thank you for your kind words about the book-- the feedback means the world to me coming from you!

Most people don't know about the LEAA-- a short-lived but really critical agency (even most of the librarians working at the National Archives have never heard of the agency, and can't locate its records from the Nixon and Ford era). 

I am in complete agreement that in order to change people's perceptions of incarceration and incarcerated citizens, they need real human contact. Putting slave narratives at the forefront of the abolitionist cause eventually led to Emancipation, after all. 

And it sounds to me that Shane's life trajectory is aligned with the story of the LEAA and the War on Crime. One of the points I tried to make in the book is that, beginning in the 1960s, policymakers essentially decided that generations of black youth were "potentially delinquent"-- long before the War on Drugs and long before violent crime became such a devastating problem in low-income urban communities. Shane would fit squarely within this preemptively labeled generation.

Please do continue to share your thoughts and findings, even if I am a bit slow to respond. In the meantime, enjoy your summer!

All my best,

Elizabeth

************************

Elizabeth Hinton
Assistant Professor
Departments of History and African and African American Studies
Harvard University




Saturday, June 25, 2016

Hope in The Face of Darkness

Every time Shane writes to me he adds a scripture passage on the back of the prison-supplied envelope.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Dog Days of Waiting and Hoping

We continue to wait for a court date before Judge Shira Scheindlin of the Federal Court in NYC. Waiting is something instinctive for Shane and those that support him. The system moves very slowly, by nature (particularly for those who are poor or of very limited means), but Shane's latest letter to me sounds hopeful, as usual.

Having been granted a hearing before Judge Scheindlin is a major win, and indicates to the Federal court that our case has merit at least worth considering. We who have been close to the case from the beginning know very well that there is no question of Shane's innocence, but ultimately it is the opinion of the court that will decide whether or not Shane will be exonerated. So we remain hopeful and patient.

As always, I encourage anyone and everyone to send Shane a letter of encouragement. If you feel hesitant to do so, my advice is to just start writing! A simple correspondence from someone on the outside provides hope and means much more than you might expect:

Mr. Shane Watson
DIN 93A9384
c/o Otisville Correctional Facility
PO Box 8
Otisville, NY 10963

NOTE: Envelopes MUST have return addresses or they will not be delivered.

Zion Watson, Paula and Shane's son.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Follow Up from Elizabeth Hinton

This from Elizabeth Hinton, author of From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime


Dear Will Duchon,

Thank you for your email and for bringing Mr. Shane Watson's case to my attention. I hope our work ultimately leads to his freedom, and the freedom of many others. 

Do stay in touch, I'd love to hear what you think of the book!

Gratefully,

Elizabeth



Saturday, May 28, 2016

How "The War on Crime" Created Mass Incarceration in the US

I came across this in today's New York Times Book Review:

The Making of Mass Incarceration in America

a new book by Harvard professor Elizabeth Hinton. The book documents how biased and racial policies stemming from the Kennedy administration and fully blooming under Reagan have helped to create the prison population explosion we have in this country.

Meanwhile, FOX News, and the other corporate networks continue to fiddle while Rome burns, choosing rather to report compelling reports about celebrities and moronic presidential candidates.