Two years after Ray Krone walked out of prison after DNA tests proved he didn’t rape and murder a Phoenix bartender, the 47-year-old former postal worker admits that frustration, anger, and bitterness have taken over, says the Arizona Republic. “I don’t recognize myself anymore,” Krone said. “I’m cynical now, totally paranoid now. I used to have a normal life. Now, I don’t know what normal is.” Krone is among hundreds of people who ended up behind bars for crimes they didn’t commit. Since 1989, post-conviction DNA tests have cleared 144 people in prisons nationwide, says The Innocence Project at Yeshiva University’s Cardozo School of Law in New York.
More than 100 people nationwide have walked off death row after being cleared by a variety of factors, said Phoenix attorney Larry Hammond, head of the Arizona Justice Project. “It’s cause for great alarm,” said Hammond, whose volunteer organization investigates suspected wrongful convictions. “If you look at why these people are convicted, it’s bad eyewitness ID, it’s snitches, it’s prosecutorial misconduct, it’s faulty crime labs. These aren’t rocket science things.” Hammond believes shoddy legal work and a flawed justice system that promotes an adversarial process spark a deadly combination that lead people like Krone to prison. “I don’t really care what the numbers are. I care that we are making mistakes that we can do something about,” he said. The percentage of falsely accused people is “tiny” and the justice system cannot be turned upside down because of anomalies, said state Attorney General Terry Goddard.