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Wrongfully Convicted, But Still In Prison

How do you prove innocence when there is no evidence tying the convicted person to the crime, except eyewitness testimony? 

George Gould and Ronald Taylor were wrongfully convicted of murder in 1995 in the state of Connecticut. There was no evidence whatsoever linking them to the murder, only one eyewitness. After a habeas trial that eyewitness recanted her trial testimony explaining that she was a drug addict and prostitute at the time and was threatened prosecution by the police if she did not cooperate. After a six hour interrogation, she cooperated and identified George and Ronald. Based on her recantation and new testimony regarding the threats by the police, the judge found that both men were innocent and reversed their conviction. However, this does not end here. The state appealed to the Connecticut Supreme Court, which found the men have to prove their innocence and that requirement was not met. So, the supreme court remanded it for a new habeas trial.

David Cameron, a political science professor at Yale, wrote an opinion piece in the Hartford Courant about this case and  the burden of proof. "Where should the burden of proof lie?" It is a very compelling piece that everyone should read. Click here to read his article.

Freedom On June 29, 2012 After Enduring 17 Years Of Wrongful Conviction (2)

LaMonte Armstrong suffered 17 years of injustice and finally won his freedom with the help of Duke Law School’s Wrongful Convictions Clinic (an Innocence Project). His conviction of murder was overturned when exculpatory evidence that had been withheld by the prosecutor was discovered.

To read more regarding Mr. Armstrong's visit the Huffington Post or WMFY News 2.

295th Person to be Exonerated Using DNA

On July 19th, the Innocence Project announced that Sedrick Courtney became the 295th person to be exonerated using DNA evidence. According to the Innocence project, "Sedrick Courtney was wrongfully convicted of an armed robbery and burglary in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and spent 15 years in prison and a year on parole before DNA testing proved his innocence. He first requested DNA testing ten years ago, but the Tulsa Police Department repeatedly claimed the evidence had been destroyed, until finally discovering they still had the evidence in their possession last year.

Send Sedrick Courtney a message of support using the Innocence Project's action center!"

The perseverance of a law student is what allowed this man to be exonerated.  For more information go to the Innocence Project.

Calls for Change in Wake of Wrongful Convictions

The Texas Tribune analyzed 86 overturned convictions, finding that in nearly one quarter of those cases courts ruled that prosecutors made mistakes that often contributed to the wrong outcome. This multi-part series explores the causes and consequences of prosecutorial errors and whether reforms might prevent future wrongful convictions.

There’s no balancing of the books when you lose two and a half decades of your life to prison, Michael Morton says. He can’t make up for missing his son Eric’s childhood while he was stuck behind bars for a murder he didn’t commit.

Man Released After Serving 20 Years - Prosecutors Acknowledge Erroneous FBI Forensics

Kirk Odom served 20 years in prison for a rape he never committed. He was released in 2003 after serving his sentence and nine years later, on July 10, 2012, prosecutors acknowledge that he was in fact innocent and convicted based on erroneous  FBI forensics.

Many More Exonerations and False Convictions than Previously Found, But Only “the Tip of the Iceberg”

There have been over 2000 exonerations of wrongful convictions in the past 23 years and that number is growing every year.  The problems with these wrongful convictions can be false identification, false confessions, and perjury by witnesses.  This article by David Greenwald of the Vanguard Court Watch of Yolo County cites data from the National Registry of Exonerations to explain why wrongful convictions have occurred.  Click here to read the full article.

Prosecutors In Colorado Agree State Should Compensate Exonerated

Most people do not realize that people who have been wrongly convicted and exonerated do not receive any benefits or help from the state. People who have done their time and released from prison are given some sort of services to help them get back on their feet. However, those people released through the appellate process, by either finding their trial to be unfair or through a finding of innocence, are left to reestablish their life with no help at all. Also, compensation for a wrongful conviction is determined by the State and is different for each state.

Prosecutors in Colorado have finally agreed that compensation should be given to those exonerated. To read the article click here

The Texas Exoneree Project

A group of exonerated inmates from Texas have banded together to help others like them re-enter society. They say there are programs in place to help parolees but there are no programs to aid those newly exonerated. Dallas has exonerated 28 inmates as of May 2011 and as of right now it is the only city that has this type of program available.

Click here for the full story.

 

The National Registry of Exonerations

Currently over 900 exonerations are listed on The National Registry of Exonerations website. It is a joint project between the University of Michigan Law School and the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law. They have maintained an up to date list of all known exonerations in the United States since 1989. 
 
To visit The National Registry of Exonerations website click here.

Freed Through DNA, Inmate Dies Before He Can Win "Exoneration"

Even though DNA evidence won Larry Sims of Texas his freedom from prison, prosecutor's and the appeals court would not declare him innocent, barring him from compensation. He fell between the cracks in Texas, not being on parole and not being declared "innocent" Sims was not given any financial support and struggled daily for survival, dependent completely on family and friends to make ends meet. Sims died June 4 from heart and lung problems. To read the full article click here.