Letter to Legislators
Christiane ‘CJ’ Allison
September 7, 2015
Dear Representative, Senator, or Alaskan Citizen,
I would like to discuss the case my family and I have been involved with for the last 7 years - Case #3PA-09-2996 CR, State of Alaska vs. Clayton Allison. Our involvement in this case has been a grueling and heartbreaking experience personally, but has also given us the unique opportunity to relay information to officials and Alaska citizens like yourself about the realities of what is happening to Alaskans in our communities from the actions of Alaska’s public safety and judicial systems.
In the case referenced above, my husband was accused and wrongfully convicted of killing our 15-month-old daughter, Jocelynn. My daughter was and is more precious to me than anyone else on Earth, and I know the evidence in this case in more detail that anyone else on Earth. Yet I have seen nothing that causes me to doubt my husband’s innocence. However, my husband was successfully convicted through deceit, mishandling of evidence, and an elaborate series of rulings to ban information from the trial which would be “too prejudicial for the defense” or, in other words, make Clayton look too innocent. For reasons it is difficult to understand, many unethical things were done to ensure Clayton’s conviction and long-term incarceration, including:
- A prejudiced pediatric ICU doctor poisoning the opinions of other key witnesses in the case before trial, and the prosecution not relaying this information to defense council;
- An mishandled autopsy performed by an incompetent medical examiner, who incomprehensibly had a complete lack of performance records in his state employee file; (A national forensics expert provided the court a document that enumerates many pages worth of errors made in the autopsy.)
- Vicious interrogations of family, friends, and the accused conducted shortly after Jocelynn’s death, including coercive tactics like the Reid Technique and torture with autopsy photos;
- Accusation and conviction of Shaken Baby Syndrome - a medical theory that has come into question worldwide to the extent that prosecution based on it is no longer allowed in some countries - after prosecutors stated on court record that they didn’t even believe it occurred;
- My diagnosis of Ehlers-Danlos Type 3 (a dominantly inherited connective tissue disease that makes affected individuals much more susceptible to injury) being banned from the courtroom; (Additionally, the treating physician who was attempting to diagnose Jocelynn before her death was stopped during testimony when he started to mention her family history.)
- A trial filled with extreme prosecutorial misconduct in the form of lying to, and misleading, judge and jury about core case evidence in their possession; and
- A parole officer who developed the Pre-Sentence Report (PSR) including blatantly biased and non-factual information in the PSR. The judge later ruled that the information would not be corrected for the record after it had been brought to the court’s attention.
I wish that I could write this letter today and communicate that our experience has been less than unjust and devastating, or communicate that our experience has been some kind of anomaly; however, the reality is that I cannot honestly communicate either. Alaskans in communities all over our state are suffering at the hands of systems that have become so biased and so corrupt that they are no longer capable of establishing truth. Simultaneously, we have written laws which make the players in these systems immune to accountability and able to destroy the lives of individuals, entire families, and communities without fear of penalty.
I truly believe that our systems have become so unbalanced, that we will eventually see more innocent people in prisons than guilty within my lifetime. That assertion may appear outrageous, unless you realize that individuals who confess and plea bargain are given short sentences and earlier parole, while those who maintain their innocence are dealt longer sentences and denied earlier parole opportunities solely because of that fact. Even more shocking, according to the 2014 Alaska Offender Profile, nearly 40% of Alaskan inmates currently housed in our facilities (that’s more than 2,000 people) are currently being housed as “unsentenced”, often for extensive periods of time. These individuals have not yet exercised their right to a fair trial, and the very foundational beliefs of our country state that an individual has the right to be treated as “innocent until proven guilty.”
However, because of the flaws in our systems every individual in Alaska is paying for these people to be housed in institutions for months and years before trial. Modern research shows that housing innocent individuals in institutions causes much more damage in the long-term than a loss of ‘time’, including the complete devastation of their life while incarcerated and the potential inability to successfully reintegrate into our communities.
Due to the unfortunate, but unsurprising, string of fatalities within Alaska prisons, and the reality of Alaska’s budget being challenged with an unsustainable and illogical level of resident incarceration (a rate which is paradoxically increasing even as the crime rate has gone down), it has become imperative for Alaska legislators to look to the root of the issues. Alaska DOC is inheriting a problem that begins long before an individual is convicted in a court of law, and the average Alaskan has little chance of maintaining their innocence without paying a much higher price than someone who freely admits wrongdoing.
Individuals whose lives have been affected by these systems understand the cost of such corruption, and have valuable information that could be relayed in the investigation of the issues; however, they currently have no way to communicate this information without fear of retaliation against themselves and their loved ones. Governor Walker has tasked Alaska Legislators and state officials with a review of the Alaska Judicial System, but this review is doomed to failure to effect real change unless these individuals are given opportunity to speak freely. Including only representation from leadership of the obviously broken systems invites a nearly insurmountable level of bias into the review. I would challenge the review team to:
- Host an open forum with the public, inviting them to share their experiences with Alaska’s public safety, health and social services, and judicial systems in criminal cases;
- Provide special accommodations for families of the accused/convicted to communicate this information in a manner that is protected from retaliation; and
- Assign representatives to the review team from families of the accused/convicted, and ensure balanced representation with leaders from each department of government.
Along with this letter, I have prepared a packet for you that includes:
- Information on the specific corruption identifiable in the Clayton Allison case, which we have evidence for in many various forms;
- Information on some of my perspective on policies and biases within our government and systems that are causing systemic damage, and
- Information provided to the Special Assistant to the Governor, Dean Williams, on my personal experience with the state of inmate treatment within Alaska prisons, and DOC policies that are in direct contradiction to its stated mission and vision.
My desire for my husband’s freedom after a review of the extreme injustice executed in our case, in my daughter’s name, cannot be understated. However, I would be remiss to walk away from this opportunity to converse with you without providing information on how this same corruption and sometimes legal unscrupulous conduct in our systems are affecting thousands of Alaskans; including, not only the accused, but their families and communities. I ask you, for the sake of your constituents and all Alaskans to please conduct additional investigation into the issues outlined in this letter and the attached appendices, and pursue corrective action.
With Greatest Concern,
Christiane ‘CJ’ Allison
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