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  • Writer's pictureTracy Keogh

The Will of the People is the Law of the Land: An Open Letter to Governor Evers

Governor Tony Evers

115 East

State Capitol

Madison, WI 53702

Dear Governor Evers,

On December 20, 2019, the Wisconsin Pardon Advisory Board denied Brendan Dassey’s clemency petition, divesting Mr. Dassey of Wisconsin’s gilded tradition of clemency. We are a unified collective of citizens and advocates who respectfully request that you reconsider this seemingly cursory decision.

In the spirit of Wisconsin’s greatest reformer and progressive, Governor Robert La Follette we look to your governance to embrace Governor La Follette’s ‘laboratory of democracy’ ideology and review the Dassey petition for pardon or commutation on its merits.

It would be Governor Phillip La Follette who would establish and appoint Wisconsin’s first pardon board in 1935, determining the function of executive clemency and the types of cases that would be considered; among them:

  • Those in which the previous history of the prisoner and his attitude in the institution indicate that he would probably be well behaved if released under supervision, but who could not be paroled under the existing statutes, and who could have his sentence reduced by the court.

  • Those who probably could be safely paroled if the sentence was reduced.

Significantly, among the principles the board were to follow included:

  • Careful consideration of the judicial history of the case.

Indubitably, Brendan Dassey would have met these fundamental pardon policies in 1935 Wisconsin.

We can reference the research of Dr William Oldigs (1941), who compared the number and types of clemency granted over a period of 24 years to conclude whether the governors had differing clemency policies. The chief findings of Oldigs study indicated that while each Governor held opposing ideas about the function of executive clemency, all Governors believed that clemency should be extended to those who had suffered a miscarriage of justice. Brendan Dassey continues to endure, an egregious miscarriage of justice.

More recently Governor Thompson and his successor Governor McCallum issued a combined 262 pardons over a period of five years while Governor Doyle granted nearly 300 over the course of his eight years in office. A study undertaken by the National Governor’s Association in a report on state clemency warned the nation’s governors that the full investigation of each case “is essential to prevent public relations problems or political embarrassments.” To not exercise due diligence and review the Dassey petition on its merits speaks to the issues at the heart of that study.

As the cruel hiatus of pardons came to an end under years of the Walker government, the Pardon Advisory Board was reconstituted in June 2019, yet it was May of this year, in your first TV appearance on News 3 where you stated, “It’s for people that have either served time or are already out or are in prison now that are seeking some change in their life situation – we are pretty open about that.” This statement is at odds with the boards current criteria.

Granting clemency is the ultimate act of executive grace. The US Supreme Court considers pardons to be the “fail-safe” in the legal system and the Wisconsin Constitution Article V, Section 6, empowers you with the sole authority to pardon state criminal convictions for any offense other than treason or cases of impeachment. It is a broad discretion with the only check on your pardoning power being that of public opinion. Local, national and global opinion supports your granting a pardon or commutation of sentence to Brendan Dassey.

Governor Evers you have clearly stated you believe in redemption, you also commented in May that, “not having hope, when you should have hope is the wrong thing for the state of Wisconsin to stand for.” As a coalition of voices united in the belief of Brendan Dassey’s innocence, we believe his wrongful conviction results from the extraction of a false confession at the hands of coercive interrogation techniques. Techniques based on unscientific and universally rejected behaviour symptom analysis, and warrants a presumption of innocence he, as a 16-year-old developmentally delayed juvenile, was denied.

Courage and clemency are equal virtues, and when the legal system fails to protect the innocent, the vulnerable, the developmentally delayed, the overwhelmed, the juvenile and the misrepresented, clemency is called upon. We now call on your executive power to correct the miscarriage of justice imposed upon Brendan Dassey.

We are a microcosmic representation of your electorate; of society and of the thousands upon thousands of people who support clemency for Brendan Dassey. We are an alliance fuelled by special educators, nurses, engineers, care workers, teachers, writers, journalists, attorneys, mothers, fathers, the disabled, the abled, radiologists, paralegals to nail technicians, retail workers, shift workers, truck drivers and more – and we too respectfully implore you to review the petition for clemency for Brendan Dassey on its merits and pardon or commute his sentence to time served. This is the will of the people.


Kelly Abderrahman, Warehouse supervisor, Oshawa, Ontario, Canada

Amber Acklin, Lab technician, El Dorado, Kansas

Ashleigh Adams, Claims, New Zealand

Kat Adams, Wrongful conviction advocate, Massachusetts, New England

Suzette Agosto, Inside sales rep, Chicago, Illinois

Hannah Ainsliee, Business owner, New Zealand

Jaclyn Aiston, Maintenance worker, Deerfield, Massachusetts

Stephanie Aitken, Assistant physiologist, Scotland

Katherine Al Amodi, Wrongful conviction advocate, Gold Coast, Australia

Malak Al Hawary, Music producer, Cairo, Egypt

Lisa Albert, Social worker, Connecticut

Saeed Ali, Self employed, Somaliland

Amanda Amos, Supervisor, South Wales, UK

Elaina Anderegg, Student, Centreville, Utah

Susan Anderson, Business owner, Vancouver, British Columbia

Theresia Anderson, Nurse anaesthetist, Chicago, Illinois

Kevin Andrews, Full time Dad, England

Cindy Ann, Wrongful conviction advocate, New Jersey

Rebecca Appleton, Wrongful conviction advocate, New Zealand

Patricia Arnold, Disabled, Bourbon, MO

Julie Arthur, Unemployed due to disability, South Wales, UK

Tia Arthur, Carer, South Wales, UK

Stephanie Askew, Disabled, Montana

Deanna Arveson, CNA, Wisconsin

Caron Astley, Teaching assistant - special education needs, Berwick-upon-Tweed, England

Jennifer Astley, Software engineer, Cambridge, England

Brady Ausbrooks, Wrongful conviction advocate, Las Vegas, NV

Connor Ausbrooks, Wrongful conviction advocate, Las Vegas, NV

Kaytlin Ausbrooks, Wrongful conviction advocate, Las Vegas, NV

Diana Avak, Wrongful conviction advocate, Bremen, Germany

Bridgette Ayala, Housewife, California

Cristina Bagwell, Wrongful conviction advocate, Grand Blanc, Michigan

Anthony Ball, Retired Cheltenham, UK

Chrissy Ball, Registered nurse, Cheltenham, UK

Adele Barnes, IT Support and infrastructure specialist, United Kingdom

Liz Barnes, Data analyst, United Kingdom

Sarah Bartlett, Vet technician, Glendale, AZ

Tina Bazzle, Customer service rep, Boise, Idaho

Rob Beard, IT Technician, Torquay, UK

Malgorzata Bednarz, Wrongful conviction advocate, United Kingdom

Jonathan Ben Bow, Wrongful conviction advocate, Liverpool, UK

Jenni Berns, Risk officer, Rolling Meadows, IL,

Leanne Betteridge, Retail assistant, Clevedon, UK

Lee Billington, Retired, Auckland, New Zealand

Inge Bilstra, Wrongful conviction advocate, Zuidlaren, The Netherlands

Carly Birch, Sales assistant, Melbourne, Australia

Heidi Birrell, Supervisor sales and special programs, Bothell, WA

Hayley Bishop, Wrongful conviction advocate, Victoria, Australia

Joyce Bishop, Production, Crystal Lake, IL

Donita Black, Wrongful conviction advocate, Dubuque, IA

Mary Blankenship, Proud mother of a child with autism, risk manager, North Redington Beach, FL

Jack Blotner, Avi installation, Abilene, TX

Annmarie Bodmeade, Wrongful conviction advocate, United Kingdom

Laura Boggs, Teacher, Maryland, US

Adam Bognor, Systems manager, United Kingdom

Isabelle Bonebrake, Business owner, Shawnee, Oklahoma

Rebecca Booth, Disabled, Detroit, MI

Layal Bouaoun, Self-employed, St. Louis, MO

Danielle Bourdeau, Maintenance assistant, Ontario, Canada

Viv Bowers, Retired computer operations manager, England

Natasja Boydens, Wrongful conviction advocate, Bruges, Belgium

Donna Brace, Disabled, Wichita, Kansas

Sue Bradbury, Human resources consultancy advisor, Surrey, UK

Jayden Bradshaw, Production sorter, Ogden, Utah

The Bradt Family, Wrongful conviction advocate, Wichita, Kansas

Nichola Brearley, Cleaner, Halifax, UK

Stephanie Bridges, Retail manager, Sacramento, CA

Jennifer Briggs, Dental nurse and oral health educator, Manchester, UK

James Bright, Wrongful conviction advocate, North Yorkshire, UK

Julie Brindle, Substance abuse rehabilitation receptionist, West Texas

Tanya Brooker, Retired educator, Detroit, MI

Allison Brown, Supervisor, Surrey, UK

Jacqueline Brown, Supervisor, North Wales, UK

Terri Brown, NHS manager, Yorkshire, UK

Alyssa Bruce, Middle school teacher, Indianapolis, IN

Diane Brunsden, Wrongful conviction advocate, United Kingdom

Linda Kay Bruyere, Wrongful conviction advocate, Maplewood, Minnesota

Steven Burn, Warehouse operator, United Kingdom

Julie Burt, Clinical data manager, Weymouth, MA

Tricia Butler, Kitchen assistant, Kent, UK

Dawn Butler Masi, Real estate investing, Silver Creek, NY

Lisa Butterfield, Wrongful conviction advocate, Wisconsin

Chris Bye, Wrongful conviction advocate, Gladstone, Australia

Colleen Byrne, Wrongful conviction advocate, Murcia, Spain

Vincent Byrne, Wrongful conviction advocate, Scotland

Debra Cahill, Full time carer, South Yorkshire, UK

Sharon Caplan, Prescription clerk, Somerset, UK

Simone Carpenter, Educator, Australia

Amanda Carter, Retired, Australia

Dana Casey, Procurement, Madison, Wisconsin

Gemma Castle, master’s in law, Teeside, United Kingdom

Delia Castillo, Wrongful conviction advocate, Chicago, IL

Lee Catalan, Wrongful conviction advocate, Brooklyn, NY

Josephine Ceyhan, Wrongful conviction advocate, Derbyshire, UK

KT Chiang, Retired, Wisconsin

Kristy Childers, Manager, Cincinnati, Ohio

Duke Childers, Tattoo artist, Cincinnati, Ohio

Louise Chopyak, Wrongful conviction advocate, Plymouth, PA

Jennifer Chowaniec, Imp technical support, Buffalo, NY

Wendy Cicio, Wrongful conviction advocate, Alabama

Bernadette Clare, Teacher, Sydney, Australia

Laura Clark, Paint technician, Greenbrier, Arkansas

Sheri Clason, Wrongful conviction advocate, Strasburg, Ohio

Eileen Clements, PhD candidate, Melbourne, Australia

Nicola Clements, Full time carer, Northern Ireland

Julie Clerc, Teacher, United Kingdom

Marie-Florence Clerc, Wrongful conviction advocate, Switzerland

Karla Cleveland, Registered nurse, Muskegon, MI

Tracey Coates, Insurance advisor, Perth, Western Australia

Kerri Cocks, Wrongful conviction advocate, Southampton, UK

Erica N Cole, Wrongful conviction advocate, Atlanta, GA

Antony Coleman, Wrongful conviction advocate, France

Kathryn Kimball Colliers, Wrongful conviction advocate, West Virginia

Tammy Collins, Electrical technician, Canton, Ohio

Linda Combs, Registered nurse, Cincinnati, Ohio

Jane Connolly, Senior administrator NHS, Leamington Spa, England

Fiona Cooper, Adult support worker, Edinburgh, Scotland

Cristina Corsini, Art teacher, Florida

Erica Cortese, Certified pharmacy technician, Rochester, NY

Lori Coughran, Wrongful conviction advocate, Anaheim, CA

Aimee Courtier, Laser Tech, United Kingdom

Madison Covelli, MRI extender, Kenosha, Wisconsin

Caroline Cowan, Retired, United Kingdom

Peter Cowan, Retired, United Kingdom

Kaitlyn Cowie, Customer service advisor, Berwick, Australia

Lea Cowie, Wrongful conviction advocate, Gold Coast, QLD, Australia

Victoria Cox Camacho, Nurse, Florida

Andrew Crainie, R.A.F veteran, Scotland

Haley Crank, Homemaker, Ogden, Utah

Kelly Criddle, Teacher, mother, homemaker, Wisconsin

Dr Hazel Croft, Programme Administrator University College, London, United Kingdom

Molly Crowley, DSP, Iowa, US

Aaron Cuthbert, Wrongful conviction advocate, Chicago, Illinois

Sandy Cziborra, Manager travel agency, Germany

Tammy Dahlstrom, Analyst, Australia

Melissa Dalton, Housewife, Lynchburg, VA

Maxine Daniel, Field sales manager, Durham, UK

Kate D'Anza, Aesthetician and business owner, Wheaton, Illinois

Tabitha Darmanin, Support worker, Cairns, Queensland, Australia

Pete Dassey, Father of Brendan Dassey, Mishicot, Wisconsin

Lori Dassey, Wrongful conviction advocate, Mishicot, Wisconsin

Kari Davidson, National manager of risk mitigation, Stacy, MN

Wendy Davidson, Retired, Western Australia

Phil Davies, Paramedic, Monmouthshire, UK

Tony Davies, Electrician, Australia

Kyla Davila, Accountant, Kasson, MN

Dawn Davis, Sales & Marketing, Sussex, UK

Debbie Davis, Disabled, Rochester, NY

Denise Davis, Retail assistant, UK

Heather Davis, Wrongful conviction advocate, Massachusetts, New England

Matthew Davis, Processing operator, Indiana

Phil Davis, Wrongful conviction advocate, Wisconsin

Bee Dawson, Registered nurse, Australia

Kylie De Groot, Homemaker, Perth, Western Australia

Marina Dean, Administration, Peterborough, UK

Wendi Dean, Banker, Oliver Springs, Tennessee

Isaac Deherrera, Student, Ogden, Utah

Sophia Deherrera, Wrongful conviction advocate, Ogden, Utah

Tony Deherrera, Labor worker, Ogden, Utah

Rhea Dela Cruz, Pharmacy technician, Hawaii

Cristina Delloiaco, Wrongful conviction advocate, Australia

Jessica Delaune, Domestic violence and wrongful conviction advocate, patient access specialist, Cut off, Louisiana

Carpels Dieter, Wrongful conviction advocate, Bruges, Belgium

Sabrina Dobbins, Food service, Knoxville, TN

Lily-Rose Dobson, Wrongful conviction advocate, Australia

Roman Dobson, Wrongful conviction advocate, Australia

Sarah Jane Dobson, Wrongful conviction advocate, Australia

Travis Dobson, Wrongful conviction advocate, Australia

Ellen Doherty, Operations, Dublin, Ireland

Louise Marie Dohn Andersen, Wrongful conviction advocate, Naestved, Denmark

Elizabeth Dolan, Wrongful conviction advocate, Liverpool, UK

Matthew Dolan, Wrongful conviction advocate, Liverpool, UK

Denise Donnelly, CRS Social worker, Pennsylvania

Charlotte Doran Housekeeping services, Cumbria, UK

Michelle Drake, Wrongful conviction advocate, Lebanon,Tennessee

Karie Drayer, Inhouse marketing, Branson, Missouri

Kelly Droster-Zantow, Disabled, retired, Wisconsin

Theresa Dufore Long, Data entry clerk, Bradenton, FL

Tim Duggan, Sales manager, Scranton, PA

Shaun Duncan, Urban towing, Calgary AB, Canada

Rik Earl, Forensic psychiatry, United Kingdom

Adrienne Earls, Charity manager, Cardiff, UK

Mary Ellen Eason, Wrongful conviction advocate, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania

Louise Ebbeck, Retired government officer, NSW, Australia

Scarlett Eckholm, Self-employed, Bismarck, ND

Heidi Ellicott O'Donnell, Wrongful conviction advocate, Tauranga, New Zealand

Madison Elmore, Wrongful conviction advocate, Maryland, US

Maureen Elsamiller, CNA, Waverly, Iowa

Angela Elsberry, Administrative associate, Clinton, Iowa

Yoann et Nadia, Wrongful conviction advocate, France

Brandon Evans, Wrongful conviction advocate, Toledo, Ohio

Christy Evola, Mental health advocate, Buffalo, NY

Michelle Fagan,Wrongful conviction advocate, Tonganoxie, KS

Jenna Fahnestock, Wrongful conviction advocate, Duncannon, PA

The Vickers Family, Wrongful conviction advocate, Herefordshire, UK

Haley Fannin, Justice fighter, Williamsburg, KY

Maureen Fantasia, Home health aid, Boston, Massachusetts

Carly Ferguson,Wrongful conviction advocate, Nova Scotia, Canada

Crystal Ferguson, Customer service rep, Knoxville, Tennessee

Melissa Ferris, Small business owner, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Sarah Field, Law student, Kent, United Kingdom

Angeline Fisher, Full-time carer of two children with autism, Brisbane, Australia

Antoinette Fisher, Admin assistant, Darlington, UK

Janine Fisher, Mother, retired, Lewisburg, PA

Maura Flanagan, Child support worker, Ireland

Maria Forbes, Chef, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Rosanna Forget, Wrongful conviction advocate, BC, Canada

Debbie Forrest, Aerospace, Spokane, Washington

Kristen Fortmann, Direct support professional, Dyersville, IA

Melodie Fosnaugh, Wrongful conviction advocate, Columbus, Ohio

The Francis Family, Wrongful conviction advocates, San Antonio, Texas

Elisabeth Franco, Travel consultant, Melbourne, Australia

Rita Franklin, Mom to 30-year-old daughter with intellectual disabilities, Morganton, N.C

Donna Freeman, Full time mum, Berkshire, UK

Angel Friddle, Wrongful conviction advocate, Springdale, Arizona

Missy Terri Fuller Ross, Wrongful conviction advocate, Green Bay, Wisconsin

Tammy Fundak, Disabled, Kitchener, Ontario

Corin Gadsby, Criminal defense investigator, Phoenix, Arizona

Kelly Criddle Gadsden, Special needs care, child care, Alabama

Shirley Gaines, Wrongful conviction advocate, Chicago, Illinois

Brianna Galloway, Stay at home mom, Wayne, WV

Natalea Gamble, Homemaker, Nova Scotia, Canada

Martyn Gamble , Wrongful conviction advocate, Vale of Glamorgan, United Kingdom

Angie Gilbert-Cooper, Disabled, Wisconsin

Colette Gilmore, Specialist nurse NHS, Oxford, UK

Lisa Gilmour, Family law paralegal, Riverside, CA

Sandra Giltrap, Care support for adults with special needs, Wexford, Ireland

Elisabeth Glaschker, Student, Germany

Daniel Glennie, Retail manager, Cardiff, Wales

J Miamor Gonzalez, Owner of landscaping business and mom of four, Sarasota, Florida

Javier Gonzalez, Wrongful conviction advocate, Lowell, Massachusetts

Steve Gordin, Special education teacher, Staten Island, NY

Holly Gordon, Wrongful conviction advocate, Property manager, New Jersey, USA

Skippy Gordon, Disability, client and youth support officer, Victoria, Australia

Paula Grabow, Wrongful conviction advocate, Chicago, Illinois

Elisabeth Graf Kettler, Retired district manager for Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, Bristol, Wisconsin

Katie Greason, College student, Kings Mountain, NC

Victoria Greenfield, Justice administration, Fremont, NE

Paula Gresch, Caregiver, Modesto, CA

Naomi Gresty, Childcare worker , Queensland, Australia

Michelle Gribb, Self-employed, South Africa

Leigh Grice, Medical administration and sleep technician, Brisbane, Australia

Natasha Griffiths, Account manager, North Wales, UK

Starlena Gruver, Waitress, Jones, Oklahoma

Joey Hachey, Business owner, Florida

Jane Hadcroft, Housekeeper, Norwich, UK

Kristine Hakala, Wrongful conviction advocate, Turtle Lake, Wisconsin

Bobbi Halminiak, Wrongful conviction advocate, Illinois

Dianne Hamelijnck, Wrongful conviction advocate, The Netherlands

Samantha Hamilton, CAN, Beaver Dam, Wisconsin

Kathie Hand, Authorization specialist, Whitehall, PA

Tara Hanke, Retail, Wisconsin

Leanne Harbour, Retail team leader, United Kingdom

Tera Hardisty, Wrongful conviction advocate, Tonganoxie, Ks

Tiffanie Harpin, Electrical contractor, Victoria, Texas

Vicki Harrelson, Logistics management analyst, League City, Texas

Mindy Harrington, Wrongful conviction advocate, Orangeburg, South Carolina

Angelica Harris, Preschool teacher, Lantana, Florida

Karen Harris, Wrongful conviction advocate, Vermillion, South Dakota, United States

Amy Hartl, Wrongful conviction advocate, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania

Eloise Hatfield, Wrongful conviction advocate, Melksham, United Kingdom

Mary Annette Hatfield, Disabled, Plant City, FL

Rebecca Hatfield, Wrongful conviction advocate, Melksham, United Kingdom

Kimberly Havens, Registered nurse, Arizona, US

Amy Haynes, Accountant, United Kingdom

Aaron Hebert, Retired safety professional, Covington, LA

Jeannie Heitz, Retired social work, Baltimore, Maryland

Hollie Helseth, Customer service, Brandon, SD

Ria Hendriks, Wrongful conviction advocate, Borne, Netherlands

Becca Hernandez, Disabled student, Cottondale, FL

Toni Hernandez, Web development specialist, Cottondale, FL

Saphrona Hetrick, Wrongful conviction advocate, Arizona

Shannon Hilder, Retail assistant, Victoria, Australia

Luke Hill, Film student, United Kingdom

Nikki Hislop, New Zealand Police, New Zealand

Mark Hoddinott, Director Hoddinott Consulting, NSW, Australia

Jodi Hoffman, Small business owner, De pere, Wisconsin

Theresa Hoffman, Baker, Rockland, ME

Karen Holden, Retired, Melbourne, Australia

Katherine Holsten, Teacher, Masters student, Virginia

Jennifer Hoover, Registered nurse, Houston, Texas

Sherry Hopkins, Court reporter, Newport, NC

Brian Hopson, Chemical tank driver, lifelong Brendan supporter, England

Jody Horn, Driver, Indiana, US

Claire Houston, Artist, England

Cherie Hughes, Mental health advocate, London, UK

Jason Hughes, Forklift operator, BC, Canada

Lana Hughes, Hospital aide, BC, Canada

Lauren Hughes, Farmer, Dorset, UK

Zachary Hughes, Golf attendant, BC, Canada

Jennifer Lyn Huhnke Gawel, Memory care, Life enrichment and dog walker, Lombard, Illinois

Charee Hull, Attorney, Antwerp, NY

Joe Hunt, Warehouse worker, Perth, Western Australia

Rebecca Hurley, Warehouse worker, Lexington, NC

Jerry Sue Hutter, Registered nurse, St. Louis, MO

Sara Ielmoli, Wrongful conviction advocate, Italy

Martina Jabornikova, Finance clerk, Brn