By Elizabeth Howard
In this episode of the Short Fuse Podcast, Elizabeth Howard is in conversation with Valena Beety, author of Manifesting Justice: Wrongly Convicted Women Reclaim Their Rights, and Tasha Mercedes Shelby, calling in on a telephone from the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility, where she is serving a life sentence without parole, for murder. For decades, Tasha has been proclaiming her innocence in the death of her two-and-a-half-year-old stepson, who fell out of his bed because of a seizure and died. Mississippi State Medical Examiner Dr. Leroy Riddick testified at her trial that “the child was violently shaken to death — that is undisputed.” That was in 2000. In 2017, Dr. Riddick issued a statement: “I made a mistake.”
Yet, Shelby remains behind bars. The child’s death certificate lists his death through natural causes.
Arts Fuse review of Manifesting Justice.
Valena Beety is a law professor, an innocence litigator, and a former federal prosecutor. She has exonerated wrongly convicted clients, founded the West Virginia Innocence Project, and obtained presidential grants of clemency for drug offenses. She served as an appointed commissioner on the West Virginia Governor’s Indigent Defense Commission. She is currently a professor of law at Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’ Connor College of Law and the deputy director of the Academy for Justice, a criminal justice center at the law school.
Tasha Mercedes Shelby is a writer and an advocate for incarcerated women. Tasha was wrongly convicted of a crime that did not occur on June 16, 2000, in Biloxi, Mississippi. In her 22 years of incarceration, she has earned her GED, taken classes at Millsaps College through the Prison to College Pipeline, and developed as a writer and as an artist. She continues to fight her wrongful conviction and you can learn more about her struggle at Free Tasha Shelby.
The Arts Fuse was established in June 2007 as a curated, independent online arts magazine dedicated to publishing in-depth criticism, along with high quality previews, interviews, and commentaries. The publication’s over 60 freelance critics (many of them with decades of experience) cover dance, film, food, literature, music, television, theater, video games, and visual arts. Our core belief: that there is a robust readership for arts coverage that believes that culture matters.
Alex Waters is the technical producer, audio editor and engineer for the Short Fuse Podcast. He is a music producer and a student at Berklee College of Music. He has written and produced music and edited for podcasts including The Faith and Chai Podcast and Con Confianza. He writes, produces and records music for independent artists, including The Living. He lives in Brooklyn and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org with inquiries.