Dallas, Texas (JusticeNewsFlash.com – News Report)
The 1994 American film, The Shawshank Redemption, recounts the story of Mr. Andy Dufresne convicted of the double murder of his wife and her lover. He was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences in the Shawshank prison in northern Maine. Years later, another prisoner enters and reveals that his old cellmate actually committed the double homicide. When Andy approached the warden with the truth, he was sentenced to solitary confinement. After almost two decades, Andy uses a small rock hammer and escapes his unjust imprisonment and flees to a small place on the Pacific coast.
This tale is not uncommon. Currently, the Dallas County District Attorney, Mr. Craig Watkins, is investigating the innocent individuals he believes have been imprisoned by faulty prosecutions. His plans entail re-examining almost 40 inmates convicted and sentenced to death row. He is dedicated to “look at those cases from a new perspective to make sure that those individuals that are on death row need to be there and need to be executed.” This interest sprang from 19 accounts, of exonerations, due to faulty eyewitness and DNA testing. One of these stories is very similar to the Shawshank story. Mr. Patrick Waller was recently exonerated of a 1992 robbery and rape when the real criminals admitted to the crimes; but it was too late, the statue of limitations to prosecute them had passed. What does this mean? It means that the true criminals that should have served time did not and are still free to roam the streets.
Another direct example is a case of Mr. Johnnie Earl Lindsey who was convicted of rape and given life imprisonment. Now, 26 years later, DNA tests reveal that he was not the one that sexually assaulted the woman. Over time, he has sent six letters requesting further DNA testing but was ignored until Watkins came on the scene in January 2007. And although it would have been easier for Mr. Lindsey to admit to the false allegations and receive parole, he never did because he knew he was innocent, he even has old time cards showing he was at work when the rape occurred.
Thankfully, DA Watkins is making some changes with the implementation of the Innocence Project of Texas. Watkins understands that the courts cannot fully rely on eyewitness accounts and should grant DNA tests for all convicted. These are people’s lives; they must be looked at with great care and not simply thrown into life imprisonment. This is not the way our Founding Fathers envisioned the justice system to work.
Written by: Jana Simard – Legal News Reporter