Learning to Be Free


Donald Gates was freed from a federal prison on December 15 after serving 28 years in prison for a murder and rape DNA proves he didn’t commit. He was convicted based on faulty forensic evidence and the false testimony of a paid informant. The Washington Post reported this weekend on his first few weeks of freedom and the road ahead as he adjusts to his new life.

Now, Gates says, comes the hard part. He hasn't really had the time to be too happy about his release or bitter about his incarceration. His energy is too focused on the struggle to get back on his feet with no money, no job and a family he doesn't know very well anymore.

For Gates, everything is smaller and more compact. Large computers and rotary phones have been replaced with handheld, push-button devices. Boxy Cadillacs and Buicks have been replaced with SUVs and compact cars. And those bulky, heavy television sets that were the biggest pieces of furniture in a room have morphed into sleeker models mounted on a wall.

"Things are very different now, and I have to get used to it. It's strange. But if feels so good. Man, it feels very good." With that, Gates fell against the back of his chair and let out a laugh that seemed to come from his toes.

Read the full story here

. (Washington Post, 01/09/10)

Gates was convicted based in part on testimony from FBI forensic analyst Michael P. Malone, who said that a hair from the crime scene matched Gates’ hair. A 1997 Justice Department investigation found, however, that Malone and 13 other analysts made false reports and conducted faulty tests.

Faulty hair analysis and other unvalidated forensic evidence have played a role in half of the wrongful convictions overturned to date through DNA testing. Take action to support federal forensic reform at the

Just Science Coalition website


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