Randy "Duke" Cunningham: Prisoner's Rights Advocate

Former Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham is speaking out from prison. He regrets his guilty plea. His lawyers took advantage of his weakened state in getting him to sign the plea agreement. (Translation: He didn't get as much of a sentence reduction as he hoped for.)

[T]he former congressman now says that at the time he was physically weak from having dropped close to 100 pounds from cancer treatments and other maladies. He said he had not eaten for two weeks when his lawyers came to him with the proposed 33-page plea agreement.

He said he balked at first, but lawyers Mark Holscher and K. Lee Blalack told him if he challenged the charges it would cost him millions to fight the case, and he would risk spending the rest of his life in prison.

Now, he realizes his votes for tougher sentencing as a Congressman were misguided, and he plans to make up for it once he's released. For example, he now thinks the severe crack cocaine penalties were wrong: [More...]

He said his time in prison has made him an emerging advocate for prison reform.

“I didn’t know jack weenie about what people were going through in here,” he said.Cunningham said he wants to become a more public advocate for prison and prosecutorial reform. He said he has written members of Congress volunteering his help — and said that Democratic congressmen will probably be more supportive of his efforts than his former Republican colleagues.

Cunningham is scheduled for release in 2013.

< Charlie Sheen Sues NY Accuser For Extortion and Theft | The New Reality >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    Marion Jones said the same thing on (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by Buckeye on Tue Nov 23, 2010 at 02:35:51 AM EST
    John Stewart.  She said 10 years ago she never imagined she would become an advocate for prison reform.  I wonder why it takes so many people to have to experience something themselves to feel sympathy for others or see the wrong in bad policy.

    I know people that did not support single payer until they got screwed by the insurance industry.  

    We should require... (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by kdog on Tue Nov 23, 2010 at 08:18:52 AM EST
    ever member of Congress do a weeks cage-time as part of their orientation.

    And DA's and prosecutors too (none / 0) (#6)
    by republicratitarian on Tue Nov 23, 2010 at 08:28:05 AM EST
    A week isn't enough time to feel the weight, (none / 0) (#7)
    by jeffinalabama on Tue Nov 23, 2010 at 08:31:49 AM EST
    unless they're mainstreamed, not some special 'jail camp.'

    I was being charitable:)... (none / 0) (#8)
    by kdog on Tue Nov 23, 2010 at 10:00:30 AM EST
    a couple hours in a holding was enough to open my eyes to our f*cked up situation.

    EMPATHY! (5.00 / 2) (#9)
    by Lil on Tue Nov 23, 2010 at 11:11:03 AM EST
    what a concept.

    But for the grace of god, go I. (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by Chuck0 on Tue Nov 23, 2010 at 12:43:16 PM EST
    A little taste of the real world goes a long way. This is good proof that most "lawn order" politicians and voters have no idea of the chaos in which they wreak. I became aware of the gross injustices and inequities of the Texas so-called "justice" system when I become involved with someone incarcerated in one of their facilities. Caused me to do a lot of research on sentencing and the like. What a load.

    Unfortunately this is a country that believes every social ill can be solved with incarceration. Or if that doesn't work, even longer incarceration. Oh yeah, and total destruction of one;s ability to ever earn a living again.

    LOL ... (2.33 / 3) (#10)
    by nyrias on Tue Nov 23, 2010 at 11:27:26 AM EST
    he wants to "reform" prison so he will LIKE it there? The whole POINT is to make people do NOT want to go to prison. It is created to PUNISH, you are not supposed to like it.

    And WHAT to punish has nothing to do with the fact that punishment should be tough.

    I full support reducing sentences for NON-VIOLENT (violent criminals, they can rot) drug offenses. And why would this dude care? He was convicted with tax evasion.

    I would take anything (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by Harry Saxon on Tue Nov 23, 2010 at 11:50:27 AM EST
    Cunningham writes with a grain of salt, from www.sethhettena(dot)com:

    Moreover, Mr. Cunningham's efforts were greatly tempered by the fact that many of our meetings with him were necessitated by his apparent retreat from the factual basis of his own plea agreement. See e.g., Letter to Wayne Winters, dated May 2, 2006, ("not all of what the press claimed was true or what I had to plead to -- But [I] had to take the whole plea or nothing.") At the opposite end of the spectrum, we were concerned that he would embellish facts if he thought doing so would improve his prospects for a sentencing reduction, as he did on at least one occasion.... In addition, his lack of candor before and after his plea (one example of which was the $50,000 in cash he left for his wife on the eve of his sentencing hearing) and the egregiousness of his crimes, presented the real risk that whichever side called him as a witness would be irreversibly tainted by such association. This may explain why Wilkes did not call him either, notwithstanding his counsel's promise to do so.

    Click Me


    Sure you would Harry (none / 0) (#13)
    by Rojas on Tue Nov 23, 2010 at 07:40:29 PM EST
    And you'll salivate on command with nothing more than a child's squeaker toy.

    Great insult (none / 0) (#14)
    by Harry Saxon on Wed Nov 24, 2010 at 03:52:50 AM EST
    You could look up Cunninghams' self-pitying letter he wrote to the journalists he blamed for his current predicament after he was convicted, then get back to me about being Pavlovian.

    Oh, brother. My former (none / 0) (#1)
    by oculus on Tue Nov 23, 2010 at 02:23:34 AM EST
    Representive experiences a "Come to Jesus" conversion!

    Glad he's talking about crack. (none / 0) (#3)
    by observed on Tue Nov 23, 2010 at 05:00:41 AM EST

    some people (none / 0) (#4)
    by Jen M on Tue Nov 23, 2010 at 07:16:05 AM EST
    never understand something until they experience it. They are unable to process what happens to others.