Scheck in WSJ: Fix the System to Prevent Another Claude Jones Case
Innocence Project Co-Director Barry Scheck wrote in an op-ed in Saturday’s Wall Street Journal that our criminal justice system failed Claude Jones and must be reformed to prevent future injustices like the one he suffered.
Jones was executed in Texas in 2000 for murder despite his claims of innocence and a plea for DNA testing before the execution. The Innocence Project and several partner organizations finally obtained testing in the case this year, and the results prove that key evidence at the crime scene did not belong to Jones.
Jones’ lawyers requested a 30-day reprieve before he was executed in 2000 in order to conduct DNA testing on a strand of hair from the crime scene. Then-governor George W. Bush was never informed of the possibility of DNA testing and denied the reprieve. Scheck writes:
To me, the most troubling aspect of this case is that I have no doubt that Mr. Bush would have stayed the execution and permitted the DNA test to go forward if only he had been told about the request.
Scheck goes on to say that our criminal justice system must learn from cases like Jones’, and that the national criminal justice commission pending before the U.S. Senate would be an ideal avenue for this type of examination and reflection.
For the sake of the family of Claude Jones, including a grandson who is in the military defending our country, I sincerely hope that President Bush will publicly acknowledge that the review system failed by not informing him of Jones’s wish to seek DNA tests that we now know could have spared his life.
This acknowledgment would, in turn, be applauded by his critics and supporters as a constructive step toward bipartisan criminal-justice reform, and could provide the impetus to pass the Webb legislation. That would be a fitting resolution to an execution that never should have happened.
Urge Senate leaders to
call the criminal justice commission bill for a vote
before this session ends in December.
Read about Claude Jones
including a recent press release and timeline of events from his case.
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