News 09.19.08

The week in review: several cases see some movement

Countless prisoners around the country are seeking to overturn their wrongful convictions and regain their freedom. It’s impossible to know the exact number of innocent people behind bars in America, but the steady stream of cases in the media in which prisoners are seeking to overturn their wrongful convictions is certainly a sign that the system is broken. Here are stories on several cases that made news this week:

Two men were released from prison today based on evidence that they were convicted of crimes they didn’t commit.

Johnnie Earl Lindsey was freed

in Dallas after serving nearly 26 years for a rape he didn’t commit, and a North Carolina judge cited mounting evidence of innocence in

freeing Erick Daniels

, 22, from a North Carolina prison after he had served seven years.

Troy Davis is set to be executed on Tuesday in Georgia for a murder he has always said he didn’t commit.

Christopher Hill of the ACLU Capital Punishment Project wrote about the case here yesterday

, and hundreds of people

marched to support Davis in Atlanta

.

Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley, known as the “West Memprhis Three,” continue to challenge their convictions for the 1993 murders of three eight-year-old boys in Arkansas.

A judge last week rejected a claim by Damien Echols

, who is on death row, that new DNA evidence proves his innocence.

Last week, CBS News’ “

60 Minutes

” reported that the FBI’s crime lab had been conducting faulty bullet analysis for more than 40 years. Ronnie Lee Bowling was sentenced to death in Kentucky partly based on faulty bullet lead testimony from the FBI. The Kentucky Supreme Court, however,

ruled 4-3 yesterday

against overturning Bowling’s conviction due to the new evidence.

A Scottish prisoner is

seeking DNA testing

to prove that he didn’t kill his ex-wife in 1988. John Robertson is serving life in prison for a murder he says he didn’t commit, and the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission is reexamining the case for evidence of Robertson’s innocence.

And as wrongful convictions are overturned around the world, the Innocence Project and our partner organizations gain allies from across the criminal justice system. Dallas District Attorney Craig Watkins this week announced that he will review nearly 40 Dallas death penalty convictions to ensure that an innocent person is not executed on his watch.

An editorial in the Dallas Morning News today applauded Watkins’ efforts

.

And a Massachusetts District Attorney received a

public service award

for his role in using forensic science to overturn wrongful convictions and track down perpetrators in cold cases.

“Execution’s Doorstep,” a new book by Leslie Lytle,

tells the stories of five men

who were released from death row based on evidence that they didn’t commit the crimes for which they had been convicted.

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