Leslie Vass was the first Maryland exoneree to petition the state for compensation for his years spent wrongfully imprisoned. He received $250 thousand in 1987, but he says he squandered the money almost immediately.

Wrongfully Convicted, 42 Years Ago

Exonerated Maryland Man Spends Decades Trying to Rebuild His Life


July 2017

BY LYNN MOLLER

Editor’s Note: As The Reporters Inc. continues production of its upcoming documentary about wrongful convictions, The Innocent Convicts, we also occasionally publish in-depth accounts of other troubling cases around the nation. Exoneree Leslie Vass, whose life was turned upside down after a crime victim mistakenly identified him as a robbery gunman, reflects on his 42-year battle to gain his freedom, clear his name and rebuild his life.

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“I couldn’t believe it when the judge declared me guilty. Guilty of what?”

The year was 1975. 17-year-old Leslie Vass was a senior in high school and, he says, a star basketball player on the school team. But everything changed, forever, on one fateful February morning when he made a routine trip to his neighborhood pharmacy in Baltimore, Maryland to buy a newspaper for his mother.

42 years later, Leslie recalls, “As I exited the store, I heard, ‘you with the leather coat, put your hands against the wall!’ I saw a police officer pointing a gun at me. I had no idea the officer was talking to me, because I hadn’t done anything.” A delivery driver inside the store had just (more…)

Under Munkeby’s plan, all children will be taught “education of the heart”--traits and values such as kindness, empathy, compassion, tolerance and trust.

Tim Munkeby is a member of The Reporters Inc’s Advisory Committee. To learn more about him, click here.

Revolutionizing Education

Former Teacher Has Five-Stage Blueprint For Change


July 2017

BY TIM MUNKEBY

Editor’s Note: Former junior and senior high school teacher Tim Munkeby thinks America’s education system needs an overhaul, a facelift, a complete re-thinking. And so, he’s formulated his thoughts and ideas about change and improvement into a plan, a blueprint if you will, consisting of five stages. You might call it idyllic, or utopian–maybe unfeasible. Regardless, folks like embattled U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy Devos should definitely take note.

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If we want people to be open-minded and at least have a chance at getting along (peace in the world, for example) it would seem hard to dispute that education is the answer. And that education must start at birth. As Former President Barack Obama has said, “before the lines of division have hardened.”

Although peace in the world may have never existed, it certainly seems a worthy goal in the evolution of the human race. Our current philosophy of education obviously isn’t getting us anywhere near that goal. When American kids reach school age they’re often crammed indoors into a room of 20, 30, or even 40 students–and basically told to sit still and shut up. Many end up (more…)