News 10.27.08

The Texas Exonerated

A feature in this month’s Texas Monthly profiles 37 people cleared with DNA testing after serving a combined 525 years in prison.

The first thing you notice is the eyes—they all have the same look in them, the look of men accustomed to waking up every morning in a prison cell. These 37 men spent years, and in some cases decades, staring through bars at a world that believed they were guilty of terrible crimes. But they weren’t. Each was convicted of doing something he did not do. It’s hard to characterize the look in their eyes. There’s anger, obviously, and pride at having survived hell, but there’s also hurt, and a question: “Why me?”

The short answer is simple: People make mistakes. Most of these cases share a common story line: A woman, usually a traumatized rape victim, wrongly identifies her attacker. Sometimes her testimony is backed by rudimentary serology tests. Sometimes the cases are pushed too hard by aggressive police officers or prosecutors.


Visit the Texas Monthly website

for video of a photoshoot with 21 exonerees and audio slideshows telling the stories of more than a dozen.

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