There now are 49 conviction review units in district attorneys’ offices, most of them launched in the past five years, and they have led to more than 300 exonerations. This marks a shift from the early days of DNA testing, when prosecutors balked at reopening old convictions.
In his five years as Texas’ governor, Republican Greg Abbott has overseen the execution of nearly 50 prisoners while only once sparing a condemned man’s life. But Abbott has never confronted the kind of intense pressure to halt a lethal injection he is facing in the case of Rodney Reed.
Novelist John Grisham is an outspoken critic of the miscarriages of justice that put innocent people in jail. But his most valuable contribution, from a reformer’s perspective, has been to show the connection between the mistakes made by individuals and the system that nurtures them, says our legal affairs columnist.
Authorities have long considered the 1985 death of Suzanne Marie Collins to be a closed case, and in 2006, her alleged killer was executed by lethal injection. But the crime scene evidence never underwent DNA testing, leading lawyers from the Innocence Project to wonder whether police had the wrong suspect all along.
Larry “Trent” Roberts, a 48-year-old Pennsylvania inmate freed from prison last month after having been wrongfully incarcerated for 13 years, joins the hundreds of exonerated individuals celebrating their freedom this year as the country prepares to mark the sixth annual Wrongful Conviction Day Wednesday.
In what may be a Missouri first, St. Louis’ reform-minded prosecutor has leveled strong charges of injustice in siding with a man challenging his murder conviction on grounds of innocence and corruption.
Which is more powerful: a good story, or a telling statistic? The success of the recent documentary on the Central Park 5 suggests effective storytelling can change public attitudes, but that might not be enough to change public policy, according to two scholars.