Friday, May 2, 2008

Innocent man released from Prison after 27 years

Charles Chatman is the 15th prisoner to be released in Dallas County after DNA evidence, preserved by the Southwest Institute of Forensic Sciences, proved his innocence. He was a free man as of May 15, 2008. Sadly, Chatman was up for parole on three separate occasions-- and was denied all three times because he maintained he did not commit the 1981 rape that resulted in his imprisonment.

The New York Times reports Chatman is not angry at the woman who identified him as her rapist, but instead angry at the system which kept him wrongly imprisoned.

According to The Innocence Project, There have been 216 post-conviction DNA exonerations in the United states since 1989. Factors that lead to wrongful conviction include incorrect eye-witness testimony, lab error, junk science, false confessions, and the use of "snitches", or jailhouse informants who would receive special treatment or lesser punishments for providing testimony, no matter what its veracity.

Unfortunately, due to these factors, innocent people spend time in jail- years of their lives that can never be regained. Even more tragic is that some innocent prisoners may be put to death due to faulty evidence. Sixteen of the 216 prisoners exonerated thus far have spent time on death row. Surely, since America claims so vociferously to be a 'culture of life', 16 innocent men who came very close to receiving death penalty is shameful to us indeed.

Thankfully, The Innocence Project has a list of priority reforms that can help cut down on wrongful convictions, and a list of things anyone can do to help keep innocent people out of prison.

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