Giving Thanks to the National Center for Reason & Justice

Elizabeth's picture

The list of things for which I'm grateful this year probably deserves a post of it's own, but one of those things also deserves a post of it's own. Put simply, I am grateful for people who do the important work of supporting and defending those others won't help, especially those from whom many turn away reflexivly in fear or disgust. I am grateful to those who stand up and fight against moral panics and the way they undermine freedom through fear.

Thus I am especially grateful for the National Center for Reason & Justice. NCRJ  serves people falsely accused or wrongly convicted of crimes against children and does educational work to fight the irrationality and panic - and the consequent violations of people's rights - that too often characterize the investigations and prosecutions of those cases.

Click here for information about the cases NCRJ currently supports.

Below is some information I've excerpted from an NCRJ letter highlighting a few of their successes and explaining their need for your help. I truly hope you can share some holiday generosity with them, and through them with those who have lost their freedom and gained the stigma of child predator unjustly. Please keep reading, or if you are convinced already, please click here to help NCRJ with its important work.

In Massachusetts, Bernard Baran, the first teacher accused of child sexual abuse of children in the daycare panics of the 1980s and '90s, was exonerated after 22 years in prison. and three years under police surveillance.   
Schoolteacher Nancy Smith , and Head Start bus driver Joseph Allen were released from Ohio prisons after 14 years' incarceration for phantom crimes against five-year-olds.  

John Stoll was freed after 20 years in state prison, convicted of sodomizing  young children and allowing other people to sodomize his six-year-old son. Immortalized in the movie “Witchhunt,” Stoll settled a civil rights case against Kern County, Kern County, California, for $5.5 million.   

None of this could have happened without public support. With donations to the NCRJ--$44,000 of tax-deductible fiscal sponsorship this year--contributors have helped pay the legal fees for innocent people still in court or in prison. Donations large and small have made these people's lives more bearable, with pocket money to buy soap or toilet paper at the commissary, with birthday cards, and with the knowledge that someone out there cares.

And with a donation of $25, $50, $100, $500, or more, you will help us continue to help the people whose letters we receive every week, accused of the most despised acts in our culture, bereft of competent counsel, terrified, and overwhelmed. 

NCRJ's work never lets up. Many innocent people are still behind bars. Equally disturbing, false accusations of crimes against children are spreading into other areas of the law beyond sex--accidental infant deaths through falls or fires, for instance. A few years ago, the state of Texas executed Cameron Todd Willingham on conviction of setting fire to his own house and killing his three young daughters, who were trapped inside. Willingham was almost certainly innocent, but Gov. Rick Perry just dissolved a  commission to review the case: it would no doubt have shown  that the prosecution's “expert” testimony against Willingham was riddled with errors and “junk” forensic science. In cases like this one, as in sexual allegations, the mere suspicion of  “harm to minors” awakens deep-seated fears that stifle common sense.
Still, there are many signs of hope.  

We believe the tide of public opinion is starting to turn. The press is growing more skeptical of police and DAs' claims, editorial boards more vocal, human rights groups more involved, and citizens more outraged. This is particularly true when sex laws are turned against those very people they are intended to protect: recently, more and more teens have been charged as rapists for consensual sex with their peers or arrested as child pornographers for “sexting”--sending racy images of themselves to friends or lovers by cell phone.  So many minors are now among the 170,000 Americans on sex offender registries that citizens this year met in national conventions to organize nationally to reform sex offender laws.

NCRJ is poised to act on this change. We want to make our Website and blog more dynamic to make our voice heard in what is still a confusing and hysterical discourse. We want to link up with our many potential allies, including find ways to work with the growing network of innocence projects, some of which are now ready to take on cases like the ones we deal with, where there is no DNA evidence--indeed no evidence at all, since no crime was committed. We want to travel to conferences to speak to lawyers, human rights and criminal justice activists, journalists, and students who are ready to hear our message.   

And we want to keep doing our core work, to buy the toilet paper for our friends behind bars and pay the lawyers to get them out.  

Won't you help us by making a tax-deductible donation of $25, $50, $500, $1,000--or whatever you can afford? We know times are tough--but injustice knows no economic booms or busts. Won't you help us celebrate next year's Nancy Smiths and Joseph Allens--and perhaps prevent the brutal fate of another Cameron Todd Willingham?

To donate, please visit our website at

There you will find an easy way to give by using your credit card. Or if you want to send a check, make it out to NCRJ and send to:

The National Center for Reason and Justice
POB 191101
Roxbury MA 02119
For justice!
Mike Snedeker
President, National Center for Reason and Justice  ~~~

Another reason I think NCRJ is worth supporting? Two of my sexual freedom heros, Judith Levine and Debbie Nathan, are board members of NCRJ. Their work as journalists to explore the complex issues around sex panics is tremendously important in a culture that, when it comes to sex, oversimplifies and underreasons.

Please click here to give thanks and support to an organization that does work that so few are willing to do.