Note:

This blog is now retired. My new site is at: Predictably Irrational.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Other Side of the Coin

I wrote about how glad I was that we killed this loser and how I am pro-death penalty.

But I also alluded to the fact that I am about fairness. And that I am suspicious of how the media MAKES YOU BELIEVE WHAT THEY WANT YOU TO BELIEVE.

The two novels, Picking Cotton and Bloodsworth, showcases how out of hand a case gets...with the media, and horribly, with the legal system.

So I am *PRO* DNA testing for cases (death row or not, but *especially* death row) in which DNA is available to test. It's mind-boggling, and shocking, to me where the legal system does not feel the same way.

I believe that there are too many cases of innocent people in prison. And when it comes to the death penalty, the quote
...I'd rather see a hundred guilty men go free than convict another innocent man.
is something I think of when I read about those questionable cases.

This past week, I was reminded of one of those horrific cases.

First, Texas death row inmate Hank Skinner was supposed to be executed for the deaths of his girlfriend and her two mentally-disabled sons.

You can read more about his case but essentially, he has claimed innocence. And there is DNA from the crime scene to test. And Texas doesn't want to do it because, hey, a jury of his peers have convicted him and that's that.

I don't understand this logic at all. If he's guilty, then the DNA will validate this. SO DO IT and shut everybody else up.

If he's innocent, then redeem yourself and make it right. It's the moral thing to do.

How could you sleep at night not knowing *for sure* when you have the tools to know *for sure*?

So, as I read about Hank Skinner's case, a plea for a stay of execution (from several newsletters and FB pages I subscribe too), I noticed that they (those requesting for a stay) referred back to Texas Gov. Perry, who may feel pressure to revisit Sinner's case because he fucked up on the case of Todd Willingham.

Well, that didn't happen in Skinner's case. It was actually the United States Supreme Court that issued the stay. No one in Texas cared enough to change the course of action. It's still unclear whether they will even do the DNA test, even with his stay.

I know a bit about Skinner's case and it's questionable as to whether he is guilty or not. But I believe the State of Texas should bite the bullet and pay for the damn test to see if he is truly guilty or not.

But what I am very familiar with is the case of Todd Willingham. I remember when the appeals to stay his execution happened as though it were yesterday, and yet it was in 2004 that he was executed in Texas.

The case is horrific. His three young children died in a house fire. The house fire was deemed an arson by "arson investigators". Just weeks before he was to be put to death, articles and experts everywhere called out the original "arson investigators" on their archaic methods. These methods/theories were used to convict the man and were refuted by prominent experts. But Texas didn't listen.

So Texas, by most accounts, executed an innocent man.

A great article, extremely long, outlines the story of Todd Willingham. It's sobering. It's sad. It's tragic. It's exactly why I will NOT BELIEVE in imprisoning anyone on circumstantial evidence. PROOF, baby, that's what I require.

Cameron Todd Willingham, Texas, and the death penalty: newyorker.com

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