Vice Magazine Compiles Powerful ‘Prison Issue’

The U.S. is home to nearly a quarter of the world's prisoners.

There are plenty of angles covered in the October issue of Vice magazine. Led by the interview Vice CEO Shane Smith conducted with President Obama during the POTUS’ visit to the Federal Correctional Institution in El Reno, Okla. this summer, a conversation carried over from HBO Sept. 27.

There’s also a feature for which Vice partnered with the Nation Institute’s Investigative Fund. Titled “A Death Sentence in Mississippi,” Spencer Woodman’s feature profiles a Death Row inmate who appears innocent of the 2001 murder crime for which he was convicted:

After Marlon Howell was transported [in 2006] to Death Row, his two sisters canvassed local lawyers to take up his appeals pro bono. Striking out in Mississippi, they stumbled upon a personal injury and criminal lawyer named Billy Richardson, in Fayetteville, North Carolina. After meeting with the family, Richardson took the case free of charge and quickly became obsessed with proving Howell’s innocence.

Richardson, who is now serving his second term as a Democrat in the North Carolina House of Representatives, has the air of a Clintonian good ol’ boy: a Southern country-club type with a deep progressive streak and a trial lawyer’s eagerness to thrust himself into any situation.*

Over the course of a year, Richardson would make multiple trips to Mississippi to interview those who participated in Howell’s trial. By 2006, each key witness who had testified against Howell had, in sworn statements, recanted critical elements of what they had told the jury.

In July, Richardson, son Matt and the Mississippi Innocence Project filed a final push in state court, while New Orleans-based organization Promise of Justice Initiative filed the first federal appeal of Howell’s conviction in federal court.

Check out the October 2015 Vice magazine table of contents here.