Scheck: TX Case Proves Execution Of Innocent Man


The execution of Cameron Todd Willingham in Texas in 2004 proves that “our criminal justice system has executed an innocent man,” Barry Scheck, co-director of the Innocence Project, writes in the Huffington Post. The evidence against Willingham, convicted of setting a fire that killed his two children, is dissected by writer David Grann in the Sept. 7 issue of the New Yorker. The story “exhaustively deconstructs every aspect of the case and shows that none of the evidence used to convict Willingham was valid. Since the reinstatement of capital punishment in 1974, Grann’s report constitutes the strongest case on record in this country that an innocent man was executed.”

“The focus turns to how we can stop it from happening again. As long as our system of justice makes mistakes — including the ultimate mistake — we cannot continue executing people,” Scheck writes. “It’s not just possible to improve forensic science in this country — it’s imperative. If Cameron Todd Willingham’s case teaches us nothing else, it should make improving the reliability of our criminal justice system a top priority nationwide. It’s not enough to feel bad that an innocent man was executed; we must use this moment to do better.”

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