09 February 2010

Will Texas execute another innocent man this month?

The reckless fallibility of the criminal justice system in capital cases came to light in a big way last year when a detailed investigative report for The New Yorker showed that the state of Texas had probably executed an innocent man. Cameron Todd Willingham was executed in 2004 for an alleged arson that claimed the lives of his three daughters in 1991. However, a forensic review of the case led to the conclusion that "a finding of arson could not be sustained." In other words, the fire for which Willingham was executed was probably just an accident.

As if that was not enough innocent blood spilled, last October Texas executed Reginald Blanton despite considerable evidence of prosecutorial misconduct.

And now this tragic sort of history might repeat itself this month for no justifiable reason. Texas death row inmate Hank Skinner is scheduled to die by lethal injection on February 24 for three 1993 murders that he maintains he did not commit. To back up Skinner's claims of innocence, there appears to be DNA evidence that could exonerate him in this case. However, the state will not consider that evidence.

How you can help:

As Matt Kelley points out at Change.org, "The case for Skinner's innocence is by no means certain. On the other hand, the case for DNA testing is clear."

>> Send a letter right now to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles supporting Skinner's clemency petition so he can continue to seek DNA testing in the case.

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