Saturday, October 22, 2011

Another one freed!

I received great news yesterday afternoon from the Innocence Project Team. Another wrongly convicted prisoner has been freed. Henry James walked out of the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola yesterday, a free man for the first time in three decades. DNA tests prove his innocence of a 1981 rape.

So today, this man can start over again, reconnecting with family and rebuilding his life, at age 50. It's not going to be easy. There's a good chance that it may not even work.

James was arrested charged with rape in 1981 after he victim mis-identified him as the attacker. And here's one more shameful little fact about this case: blood tests pointed to his innocence, but his defense attorney failed to share that with the jury.

Sometime I wish that everyone who reads our material and supports our project could go with us to a national Innocence Network Conference. The speeches and the workshops are wonderful, but the real meaningful experience comes when the exonerees are introduced. It's a reunion every year, as more and more people are freed after being found innocent. These people are like family. They welcome each other. They hug each other. They weep openly. And while I tell about these meaningful experiences, I must confess that there's another side to the coin. At the same time I get very angry. In a country that boasts justice for all, why does a man have to wait 30 years to be found innocent? Is it because he doesn't have money, or stature?

And how many more Henrys are there? Care to guess? If the system is right 99% of the time, care to figure out the total of 1% of 2.5 million? That's how many are in prison in the US of A.

Let's get angry together, and let's vow to do something about it.

No more Henrys.

No comments: