Thursday, April 16, 2015

152 innocents marked for death: The New York Times notes the alarming fact that over the past 42 years, someone on death row has been exonerated, on average, every three months. The editorial refers to many of the cases reported by this Blog over the years: Cameron Todd and Carlos DeLuna innocent men whose executions were facilitated by (the) all-too-common mind-set to win at all costs; Anthony Ray Hinton; Glenn Ford; Henry Lee McCollum; (Must, Must Read. HL);


EDITORIAL: "152 innocents, marked for death," published by the New York Times on April 13, 2105.

PHOTO CAPTION:  "Over the past 42 years, someone on death row has been exonerated, on average, every three months."

GIST: "However much Americans may disagree about the morality of capital punishment, no one wants to see an innocent person executed. And yet, far too often, people end up on death row after being convicted of horrific crimes they did not commit. The lucky ones are exonerated while they are still alive — a macabre club that has grown to include 152 members since 1973. The rest remain locked up for life in closet-size cells. Some die there of natural causes; in at least two documented cases, inmates who were almost certainly innocent were put to death. How many more innocent people have met the same fate, or are awaiting it? That may never be known. But over the past 42 years, someone on death row has been exonerated, on average, every three months. According to one study, at least 4 percent of all death-row inmates in the United States have been wrongfully convicted. That is far more than often enough to conclude that the death penalty — besides being cruel, immoral, and ineffective at reducing crime — is so riddled with error that no civilized nation should tolerate its use. Innocent people get convicted for many reasons, including bad lawyering, mistaken identifications and false confessions made under duress. But as advances in DNA analysis have accelerated the pace of exonerations, it has also become clear that prosecutorial misconduct is at the heart of an alarming number of these cases. In the past year alone, nine people who had been sentenced to death were released — and in all but one case, prosecutors’ wrongdoing played a key role.The latest was Anthony Ray Hinton, who on Apr. 3 walked out of the Alabama prison where he had spent almost 30 years, half his life, on death row.........Why does this keep happening? In a remarkable letter to the editor published last month in The Shreveport Times, A.M. Stroud III, a former prosecutor in Louisiana’s Caddo Parish, offered a chillingly frank answer: “Winning became everything.” In 1984, Mr. Stroud convinced a jury to convict a man named Glenn Ford and sentence him to death for murder. But Mr. Stroud now admits that because he was so focused on winning rather than on seeking justice, he failed to identify and turn over evidence that would have cleared Mr. Ford.........The all-too-common mind-set to win at all costs has facilitated the executions of people like Cameron Todd Willingham or Carlos DeLuna, whose convictions have been convincingly debunked in recent years. And that mind-set led to the wrongful conviction of people like Mr. Hinton, Mr. Ford and Henry Lee McCollum, who was exonerated last year after spending three decades on North Carolina’s death row. Mr. Hinton was convicted of two murders largely on faulty evidence that the bullets had come from his gun. His prosecutor at the time said he knew Mr. Hinton was guilty and “evil” just by looking at him. And later prosecutors continued to insist on his guilt even when expert testimony clearly refuted the case against him. Why does this keep happening? In a remarkable letter to the editor published last month in The Shreveport Times, A.M. Stroud III, a former prosecutor in Louisiana’s Caddo Parish, offered a chillingly frank answer: “Winning became everything.” In 1984, Mr. Stroud convinced a jury to convict a man named Glenn Ford and sentence him to death for murder. But Mr. Stroud now admits that because he was so focused on winning rather than on seeking justice, he failed to identify and turn over evidence that would have cleared Mr. Ford. The all-too-common mind-set to win at all costs has facilitated the executions of people like Cameron Todd Willingham or Carlos DeLuna, whose convictions have been convincingly debunked in recent years. And that mind-set led to the wrongful conviction of people like Mr. Hinton, Mr. Ford and Henry Lee McCollum, who was exonerated last year after spending three decades on North Carolina’s death row. If not for the extraordinary after-the-fact efforts of lawyers, investigators, or just plain dumb luck, these men would be dead too, and neither Mr. Cox nor anyone else would be the wiser."

The entire story can be found at:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/13/opinion/152-innocents-marked-for-death.html?_r=0#story-continues-4

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: 

Dear Reader. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog. We are following this case.
 
I have added a search box for content in this blog which now encompasses several thousand posts. The search box is located  near the bottom of the screen just above the list of links. I am confident that this powerful search tool provided by "Blogger" will help our readers and myself get more out of the site.

The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at:

http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith

Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at:
 
http://smithforensic.blogspot.ca/2013/12/the-charles-smith-award-presented-to_28.html
 
I look forward to hearing from readers at:

hlevy15@gmail.com.
 
Harold Levy; Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;