Sentenced to death by a crook

Now a second chance

By: Nate Goldbaum

After more than a decade, Nathson Fields will finally leave death row on February 26.

He will go to Cook County Jail that day as the result of an Illinois Appellate Court decision last month.

Fields and co-defendent Earl Hawkins were sent to death row by Thomas Maloney, the U.S.'s first judge convicted of corruption in death penalty cases.

Maloney took bribes from Hawkins' lawyer in Fields and Hawkins' 1985 bench trial.

After learning that the FBI knew of the bribe, Maloney returned the money and swiftly sent both defendants to death row to cover his tracks.

The State's Attorney argued that the defendants could not get a trial invalidated because they had bribed a judge, but Fields never knew about the bribe and Hawkins would never have attempted it if it were not well known that the judge meted out harsher sentences to those who didn't bribe him.

While in prison at Menard Correctional Facility, Fields was subjected to beatings and more than six months of solitary confinement for reporting guard brutality.

The move to Cook County Jail will be a welcome relief, since he can now see his wife, Jamilah, every week instead of no-contact visits once every few months.

Jamilah Fields choked back tears when she called to report the news. "I'm so happy, I'm just speechless. I've waited so long for this day."