"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)


unspeakable crimes

Aaron Weaver over at BDW has a post today on Baylor law professor Mark Osler's upcoming book, Jesus on Death Row. It sounds like a very interesting meditation on the mind-boggling flaws in the criminal justice system that lead to wrongful convictions.

I live in a state in which the criminal justice system is so broken that at least thirty-seven men were convicted and served a total of 525 years in prison for crimes they did not commit. They've only been exonerated in the last ten years or so since DNA testing technology has become more available. Nineteen of those cases came out of Dallas County.

While there is nothing that can be done to reverse the travesties that landed these completely innocent people in a living nightmare in the first place, our state could do much, MUCH more to ensure that this stops happening. We could adequately fund our public defenders' offices, so that poor defendants get adequate legal representation from well-trained lawyers who have managable case loads. We can also support the Innocence Project of Texas, which works to get wrongfully convicted prisoners out of jail, mainly through the dedication of law students at Texas Tech.

And we could remember that "doing justice" is a direct Biblical command. In a state in which politicians spend so much time pontificating about Jesus, it would be nice to see someone stand up for the principle that justice really should be for all, not just for those who can afford it.


Anonymous Michael Westmoreland-White said...

Although he probably will not tackle the death penalty, I am looking forward this year to the legislative efforts of Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) who plans major legislation on prison reform. Of course, I cannot support a particular bill sight unseen, but it gives us a chance to highlight a long neglected issue.

Kentucky's system is not a broken as Texas' is, but the difference is not that great. And my former home state of Florida tried to emulate Texas in number of executions!

There is much, much to do across this nation and around the world on prison reform.

Saturday, January 17, 2009 3:41:00 PM


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