Sunday, January 06, 2008

Dallas County Gets It Wrong Again

Wassup, Y'all!

Yeah, I know we're all flushed with excitement over Smooth Barack's campaign momentum. In that regard, the clock has moved ahead a bit, but deep in the heart of Texas, the clock is still stuck in the past. Last week's news that 'Dallas County's record-setting list of innocent inmates cleared by DNA testing grew to 15' comes as no surprise given Texas' cowboy 'convict first, ask questions later' mentality. The latest homey set free is Charles Chatman, a southsider accused of raping a northside woman who picked him out of a line up (note to self: follow up with homegirl to see how she's feeling about willingly helping to put an innocent man in prison...). Chatman, 21 at the time of his 99 year conviction, emerged 26 years later predictable 'bitter and angry'. My view is that he, along with the 14 others exonerated by DNA testing, are lucky they aren't dead...

This is why people question the merits of the death penalty. Sure there are people who are custom made for the death penalty - serial killers, child predators, etc., but if you can't guarantee that the person you're putting to death is guilty then you can't justify imposing that sentence. In my opinion, there are too many variable - race, social status, income level, etc. which make the justice system anything but blind.

Jeff blackburn, the founder of the Innocence Project of Texas, the outfit that helped spring Chatman, put it best when he said, "It is time we stop kidding ourselves in believing that what happened in Dallas is somehow unique. What happened in Dallas is common. This is Texas."

Texas may be blatent offender #1 with this type of sloppy, hot-headed justice, but they're not the only one, and I guess I have to give Dallas County a little credit for even maintaining the DNA evidence from past cases that was later used to help spring these guys but given this news, I have to believe that there's a percentage of inmates who have been put to death in the Lone Star State with a situation exactly similar to Chatman's and how jacked up is that?



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