Sunday, May 24, 2009

Misconduct and Wrongful Convictions

This from a report by CBS News on the Texas Tim Cole Compensation Act:

Since 1989 there have been more than 230 DNA exonerations nationwide. In at least 33 of those cases, prosecutorial misconduct was cited as the reason for the wrongful conviction.

What's not mentioned is that these cases went through an appeal process that failed to note the significance of misconduct in contributing to the wrongful conviction.

Tim Cole, was a 25-year-old college student when he was convicted of rape. But DNA testing in 2008 revealed Cole did not commit the rape. And in his final opinion the presiding judge, Charles Baird, concluded Cole was convicted because "evidence was downplayed or deliberately ignored" by prosecutors.

But Cole wasn't in court to hear his name cleared. In 1998, after 13 years in prison, he had an asthma attack in his cell and died.

We don't know whose time Tim Cole served. We don't know how many others may have been victims of the actual perpetrator who was allowed to go free thanks to the faulty procedures employed by his prosecutors.

That's the case when a crime is attributed to the wrong person. Justice loses, and so do the rest of of. Cole's wrongful incarceration in today's dollars cost the people of Texas approximately $390, 000, just for housing. The dollar value, though, is meaningless to any subsequent victims of the actual perpetrator.

To voice your concern about this issue, support the June 27 Freedom March in Denver and in other cities across the nation.

No comments: