On the 200th DNA Exoneration in the U.S.

Jerry Miller was 22 years old when he was arrested and charged with a brutal rape, robbery and kidnapping. He was convicted and sentenced to 45 years in prison. Today, 26 years later, Jerry Miller will be exonerated because DNA testing proves what he said all along - that he is innocent.
Jerry is 48 years old now. He has lost virtually his entire adult life to a wrongful conviction. And he is the 200th person in the United States who has been exonerated through DNA evidence.

I'm in Chicago for Jerry's exoneration today, and it's impossible not to think about all the other people who have walked out of prison after serving years or decades for crimes they did not commit. These 200 people are a remarkably diverse group - they include a rich man's son in Oklahoma, homeless people, school teachers, day laborers, athletes and military veterans. But mostly they are African-American men without money to hire good lawyers (or, sometimes, any lawyers).

Combined, these 200 people have served about 2,500 years in prison - that's roughly a million nights in prison.

People often tell me they can't imagine anything worse than spending years or decades in prison for a crime someone else committed. The only thing worse would be to endure the horror of wrongful conviction and not have it count for something - to have society fail to learn the lessons of injustice and reform the system to prevent it from happening to anyone else.

The 200 DNA exonerations nationwide give us irrefutable scientific proof of the flaws in the criminal justice system. We look at every exoneration to determine what caused the wrongful conviction in the first place, and we see clear patterns. More than 75% of the wrongful convictions involved eyewitness misidentification (often cross-racial misidentification, and often from more than one witness); nearly two-thirds involve forensic science errors (from simple mistakes to outright fraud); 25% were based on false confessions (as the result of coercive interrogations or defendants' limited mental capabilities).

By identifying the causes of wrongful convictions, we can develop reforms that work - and the first 200 DNA exonerations have already transformed the system. Our reform agenda is taking hold nationwide because it has growing support from the law enforcement community, which sees that our reforms don't just protect the innocent, but that they also enhance the capability of law enforcement agencies to apprehend the true perpetrators of crime.

Dozens of cities and states have changed their eyewitness identification procedures to make them more accurate, 500 jurisdictions now record interrogations to prevent false confessions, the federal government has implemented important crime lab standards and 40 states now grant prisoners access to DNA testing that can prove their innocence. But it's not enough. The Innocence Project receives thousands of letters a year from prisoners and their families, detailing flawed investigations and trials that were predestined to convict the wrong person.

We are in a race against time to test evidence before it is destroyed and to prove the truth before one of our clients spends another day behind bars. And we are in a race against time to fix the system before one more innocent person is swept off the streets, forcibly separated from his family and robbed of his freedom.

Today, the Innocence Project launches "200 Exonerated, Too Many Wrongfully Convicted," a month-long national campaign to create state Innocence Commissions and enact other reforms that can address and prevent wrongful convictions. We don't know how many innocent people are in prison. Instead, we ask how many more will have to be exonerated through the hard science of DNA before every jurisdiction in the country enacts reforms that can prevent this injustice from happening in the first place. We owe these 200 innocent people - and ourselves - no less.

Barry Scheck is the Co-Director of the Innocence Project
Original Post
and to think some wanted to lecture ME about the death penalty.....so i guess the dumb azz look on their faces after they execute an innocent man is supposed to comfort his family...false imprisonment is bad enough....but wrongful death by the state? that is just plain pfucked up...........
and to think that some supporters of the dp say it's worth the risk to execute somebody who is innocent...
They are so blinded by their desire of revenge sck
Man's release after DNA exoneration delayed more than 2 years

By The Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS | A man who languished in prison for more than two years after DNA results cleared him of a rape wants an explanation for the paperwork error that kept him behind bars.

Harold Buntin, 38, walked out of prison Friday after 13 years of incarceration for a 1984 rape he did not commit. His release came more than two years after DNA cleared him of that crime.

Although he's elated to finally be free, Buntin said he remains upset and frustrated that misplaced paperwork delayed his release for so long.

"I'm going to move on and take care of my business," he told The Indianapolis Star for a story Tuesday. "But I feel like somebody has to answer for that. I never should have been in jail -- and I spent two more years there after they knew I was innocent."

The Marion County prosecutor agreed to drop all charges against Buntin based on the DNA test results, said Matthew Symons, the prosecutor's spokesman.

At the time Buntin was convicted, DNA testing was not widely used. Prosecutors linked him to the victim because of her testimony and the fact that he had the same blood type as the rapist.

Buntin's mother and two sisters raised more than $4,000 to pay for two DNA analyses -- both of which concluded that he wasn't the person who robbed and raped a 22-year-old clerk at an Indianapolis cleaners in 1984.

In April 2005, a judge exonerated Buntin based on the test results, but the rest of the justice system didn't find out about the decision for two more years. Court officials found that a bailiff or clerk failed to properly enter and distribute the order clearing Buntin.

Because no order was sent to him or his attorney, Buntin remained imprisoned for two more years. The error was only discovered after Buntin and relatives pressed his attorney to file a "lazy judge" complaint because of the delay in the ruling.

Court officials eventually found the judge's original order in Buntin's court file, which had been placed in storage.

Buntin is now one of about 200 convicts in the United States exonerated by DNA evidence since 1989, according to The Innocence Project, an independent nonprofit organization works to free innocent people through use of DNA evidence.

The rape allegation has haunted Buntin since he was 15 and identified by the victim.

Police believed the woman, who previously identified another man, and Buntin was charged with rape and armed robbery. His case went to trial in April 1986 but Buntin, then 17 and scared, fled the state before the trial ended.

Convicted in absentia of rape and robbery, he was sentenced him to 50 years in prison. He began serving that sentence in 1994 after he was arrested in Florida on an unrelated charge.

Now that he's out, Buntin said he's not sure what the future holds for him.

"I still haven't gotten used to it yet," he said.

Buntin's release has brought mixed emotions for his family.

"I'm happy he's finally home, but I'm mad he had to go through all of this to prove his innocence," said his sister, Kim Buntin.
These stories make me wanna holla!

HBO just aired The Trials of Darryl Hunt. (I recorded it last name, but haven't watched it yet.) I did listen to a podcast about it. Hunt was wrongly convicted and imprisoned for the rape and murder of a white woman, but exonerated on DNA evidence nearly 20 years later. The crazy thing was, he happened to answer the phone of a friend the police were looking for. And since he wouldn't lie on the friend he ended up being the fall guy. Re-f*ckin'-diculous! Mad

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