Freedom for Nathson Fields!


Nathson Fields
By: Nate Goldbaum

After more than 14 years in prison for a murder he didn't commit, Nathson Fields may soon be free.

Fields was sent to death row by corrupt former Judge Thomas Maloney, who is now serving 15 years for taking bribes in capital cases. A state appeals court overturned Fields' conviction, but for the last 17 months, he has remained incarcerated at Cook County Jail as prosecutors stall over whether he will be retried.

Their problem is that they have nothing to build a case against Nathson. All witnesses against Fields have recanted or been ruled unreliable. There is no physical evidence. Pictures of the line-up show Det. David O'Callaghan improperly holding Fields' shirt-sleeve to indicate which suspect witnesses should identify. One witness even says O'Callaghan told him specifically to identify Fields!

Even worse than the corruption that sent Nathson to death row is the brutality he encountered there. A prison lawyer, Fields wrote briefs and filed grievances against death-row conditions. In 1997, Menard Prison's "Orange Crush" tactical squad violently repressed protests against unnecessary and humiliating anal-cavity searches. In response, Fields wrote to elected officials and filed grievances. He was swiftly transferred to an "administrative segregation" cell -- on a floor alone with a solid steel door and 24-hour lights. Worse, he was subjected to savage beatings. In June, FBI officials released a videotape of one beating. The Campaign led a press conference August 9 to highlight the video and Fields' case.

The protests for Nathson at each monthly court date are finally bringing Fields' case to a head. On July 24, Judge William Gaughan finally ordered the state to produce some evidence in the case, threatening to dismiss the charges against Nathson if they brought none by August 24. Nathson Fields may soon be Illinois' 13th exonerated death row prisoner!