Thursday, February 17, 2011

Technical Error Costs Man $1.4 Million in Texas after Wrongful Conviction

This video, "Free But Still Struggling," published by the Houston Chronicle about men wrongfully convicted in Texas is very compelling. But the story of one man in the video, Anthony Graves, that Yahoo posted is beyond outrageous:
Anthony Graves would have received $1.4 million in compensation if only the words "actual innocence" had been included in the judge's order that secured Graves's release from prison. The Comptroller's office decided the omission means Graves gets zero dollars, writes Harvey Rice at the Houston Chronicle, even though the prosecutor, judge, and defense all agreed at trial he is innocent.
Jason Witmer says the video grew from one question, "... what is life like after being freed for a crime you didn't commit?" Based on the video, I'd say "not good."

Regarding Graves's struggle, isn't it just like Texas's dysfunctional system to figure out a way not to give someone the money he or she deserves after being wrongfully convicted? Read more at Yahoo! News.

This story came to my attention via a Facebook friend. And of course, when hearing of it I recalled the insanely unjust sentencing of the Scott Sisters of Mississippi who have been released to serve life on parole after being 16 years ago convicted of an $11 theft that they still say they did not commit. Each sister was sentenced to double life but earlier this year were set free by Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour on "compassionate" release for Jamie, who needs a kidney, and a kidney donation mandate for the other, Gladys.

If you watch the video above, you'll get an idea of how hard it is to reintegrate into society with a felony record even for people who have been totally exonerated. Imagine life for those whose convictions, despite being highly questionable, were not completely overturned. Society doesn't really consider such people a threat, but perhaps the justice systems leaves them in a state that cultivates hostility toward society.

Sometimes it seems American justice is not only blind but also immune to wisdom.

1 comment:

msladydeborah said...

I do not believe that in the case of the man in Texas it was human error. I believe that it was intentional.

Texas has had a high number of individuals who have been released after being wrongfully convicted. They have recieved a whole lot of money from the state because of their incarcerations. I read recently that Texas lawmakers were concerned because there were more individuals being released and the cost was soaring because of the compensation funds.

It is outrageous to learn that this type of injustice goes on and takes years to correct. But, I also take into account that one of the primary reasons why injustice goes on is the people of the community. There has to be major support for the system for it to stand in this condition. If you support the system and make no noise about injust practices, it is a good-to-go signal.