Freelance photographer Jason Nicholas, 38, is behind bars in New York and could serve more than a year in state prison as a result of his arrest in St. Paul, says St. Paul Pioneer Press columnist Ruben Rosario. Nicholas was among 50 journalists arrested during the Republican convention. Nicholas, who was on parole from a 1990 manslaughter conviction at the time of his arrest, may illustrate the most extreme example of the impact the mass arrests during the St. Paul convention will have on people. Nicholas “is a rehabilitation success story, and unless some discretion is used, he will be sent back to jail for 12 to 14 months and all of his success in rehabilitation will be stripped away until he becomes just another systematic failure,” said his attorney, Wylie Stecklow.
If the parole division “allows this to happen,” Stecklow added, “it will reduce the trust the public has in the integrity of the system. To penalize him the same way as if he robbed, stole, raped or assaulted someone is not how our system should be working.” Nicholas was 19 in 1990 when he fatally shot a neighborhood rival he thought was about to shoot him. A jury cleared Nicholas of murder but convicted him of manslaughter. Rosario describes the convention incident that led to Nicholas’s arrest on charges of felony obstructing and felony riot. “Mr. Nicholas should not spend another year in prison solely because he happened to be in St. Paul covering a highly newsworthy story,” said Lucy Dalglish of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, “Particularly when journalists on his left and his right were either released on the spot or had identical criminal charges dropped days later.”