Inmates changing their names in prison


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Shipwreck
March 23, 2007, 04:37 PM
Inmates changing their names in prison


(New York - WABC, February 20, 2007) - Convicted criminals are changing their names behind bars, hoping to forget their troubled past when they are released.

A three month Eyewitness News investigation has uncovered hundreds of cases in which prisoners have legally changed their names -- and the courts are actually helping inmates through the process.

Many convicted felons are leaving prison with new identities, and they are doing it at a reduced price -- just a few dollars. Thanks to lenient judges and well-resourced prison law libraries, nearly five inmates every week here in New York get new names and you'll never guess who's paying for it.

Hoffer: "Your full name is?"
Inmate: "Lord Adonis Majesty."
Hoffer: "And before it was Lord Adonis Majesty, your full name was?"
Inmate: "Calvin Wanamaker."

Calvin Wanamaker, who is about to get out of prison after serving 16 years for robbery, says he decided to change his name not just for religious reasons, but also for a fresh start.

Hoffer: "So you are now, Lord?"
Inmate: "Lord Adonis Majesty."
Hoffer: "And that's what you'll be when you get out there?"
Inmate: "Yes."

Hundreds of prisoners throughout New York are changing their identities just like Lord Majesty. Through a check of county courthouse records and Department of Correction data, our investigation has discovered that on average 230 inmates in New York prisons legally change their names every year, including rapists, killers and other violent criminals.

Among them, Oluguba Thompson, who changed his name while serving time for attempted murder in the shooting of two teenagers at a Long Island McDonald's. He's out of prison now with a whole new identity.

Ken Solomon, victim: "I lost about a foot of my large intestines. I had a colostomy bag."

Ken Solomon nearly died when bullets from Thompson's gun ripped through his stomach.

"It felt like a hot ball of flame had hit me," Solomon said.

He had no idea the man who nearly killed him is out with a new name -- a name that just cost him $15 dollars.

"I just don't understand why you should be able to change your name in prison ... never the less for reduced fee. I just don't understand, I don't understand how they would allow that," Solomon said.

The state not only allows it, taxpayers pay for it. In the last four years, about 930 inmates have legally changed their names. In most cases, they claim they're poor so judges lower their filing fees from the standard $210 dollars, which is what you or I would pay, to just $15 dollars.

That's how inmate Vincent Williams changed his name. Court records show he paid just $15 dollars to become Prince Elias Menelik Taharqa II.

On the Department of Correction Web site, there's no trace of Vincent Williams. He's now on record as a prince -- a prince who happened to kill a two-year-old little girl and her five-year-old sister during a Queens robbery in the early 90's.

New York Assemblyman David Koons wants to ban inmates convicted of violent crimes from changing their names while in prison. In 1993, his daughter Jennifer was raped and murdered. The killer tried to change his name while behind bars.

"I want him in prison under the name that he went to prison with," Assemblyman Koons said.

He has tried for years to get his bill passed, all the while, more and more inmates keep changing their names and leaving prison with new identities -- paid for by taxpayers.

Hoffer: "But why not wait till you're out of prison and pay the standard $210 fee?"

Inmate: "You could, but why, you're coming home, and you know it's a new you and a new day, why not change it before you come home."

Civil liberties groups say prisoners deserve the same constitutional rights as everyone else and should not be denied the right to change their names just because they are poor. But law enforcement agencies are concerned that all the name changing could lead to a lot of confusion in the criminal justice system.

http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/story?section=local&id=5052386

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morcoth
March 23, 2007, 05:30 PM
If Joe Blow was scheduled for release, and his name is now Harry Dick, then I guess Harry Dick has to stay, since he is not the man scheduled for release :rolleyes:

Sheesh
Morcoth

El Tejon
March 23, 2007, 05:31 PM
This is news in New York?:confused:

scurtis_34471
March 23, 2007, 05:35 PM
Changing your name does not really give you a new identity. You still have the same Social Security number. The name change records go to the DMV. It doesn't really do anything in terms of your relationship with the government or your creditors. Even your credit score follows you. While its irritating that tax dollars are paying for it, it really doesn't give the ex-felons a new start or a get out of parole card.

nobody_special
March 23, 2007, 05:42 PM
You know, I see two sides to this.

If someone really wants to change his name to help get a "fresh start" as a law-abiding citizen, I have no problem with that... so long as it is done legally, and records are kept so that if he commits further crimes, his past can come back to haunt him.

However, I suspect that is not the case for many of these people. (And what's with the names? "Royal Adonis Majesty", "Prince Elias Menelik Taharqa II"?)

Hm, there wasn't supposed to be a big smiley at the top of this post... can't seem to remove it by editing though.

Shipwreck
March 23, 2007, 05:51 PM
Im changing my name to Captain Bazooka-Joe Chewbacca :D

scurtis_34471
March 23, 2007, 07:27 PM
I saw a name change announcement in newspaper for a guy changing his name to Haywood Jablomi.

Liberal Gun Nut
March 23, 2007, 08:09 PM
Here are some suggestions for them:

http://www.dirtysounding.com/

KINGMAX
March 23, 2007, 08:11 PM
Join the French Forgien Legion for just five short years and get the same thing. :evil:

Creeping Incrementalism
March 23, 2007, 09:19 PM
I saw a name change announcement in newspaper for a guy changing his name to Haywood Jablomi.

An oldie but goodie.

http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=55364&d=1174695501

Fly320s
March 23, 2007, 09:26 PM
That's how inmate Vincent Williams changed his name. Court records show he paid just $15 dollars to become Prince Elias Menelik Taharqa II.
So, there is/was a Prince Elias Menelik Taharqa the first?:neener:

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