Thursday, July 3, 2008

Beyond All Reasonable Doubt

After spending 15 years in a jail cell, where he’d been incarcerated on a life sentence, Patrick Waller was freed. He was exonerated of the aggravated robbery and rape which he had been accused of and he became a free man as reported by CNN.

Why this is of special significance is obvious to anyone. But what makes Waller’s story even more special is that he was convicted by the Dallas District Court after being identified in a line up three times, including a live line up. He was identified by three separate people.

Waller, who had always maintained his innocence, requested DNA testing several times and it was denied on all previous occasions by the DA’s office. The judges and District Attorneys responsible for denying him DNA testing I am sure slept soundly in the comfy beds for the past fifteen years. I’m sure they ate well and I’m sure they tut-tutted about how terrible criminals are as they chomped on fois gras and sipped their Pinot Noir.

What makes this all the more special is that Waller was so definitely a criminal that no one thought it worthwhile to challenge his sentence despite him insisting he was not guilty. What makes this all the more special is that had one of the people in the robbery died, Waller would almost certainly have been charged with murder and would almost certainly have been put to death in the State that executes more people than any other. It is special because it is an absolute statement that the death penalty should be abolished because it deters no one and people make mistakes.

No one can give Waller back his life. The DA and the judges should serve at least a year just for being such pig-headed idiots, but they won’t. They will continue clinking their wine glasses, smiling and nodding at each other knowingly and believing themselves to be the ones that contribute to making this a free society.

Patrick Waller was the 19th person freed under the DNA programme since 1992. Collectively, the men who have been freed have served over 400 years of prison time without having done anything to deserve it.

How many have been put to death, we shall never know.

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