Thursday, March 14, 2013

A Human Tragedy

The other day, I happened upon this story from the Houston Chronicle and I cannot stop thinking about it. It's called A Human Tragedy, and it's the stories of 24 exonerees who spent years in Texas prisons for crimes they didn't commit.

I cannot even imagine.

The story is creative, fascinating, artistic, and devastating. Photographer Billy Smith II captured harrowing portraits of the 24 exonerees, and when you click on their images, it takes you to a brief summary of their story.


Johnnie Lindsey served 26 years for a rape he didn't commit.

Michael Morton served 24 years for killing his wife, until DNA testing found the real killer. 

Gregory Wallis served 17 years for rape based on misidentification of his tattoo.

Cornelius Dupree Jr. served 30 years for sexual assault and robbery, until DNA testing exonerated him. 

And the stories go on and on. I am pretty empathic but I can't even really conceive of spending all those years in prison for a crime I had nothing to do with. I also can't imagine dealing with the rage and resentment that would inevitably haunt me even after I was freed. 

Notable links:

The first Voice of Witness book, Surviving Justice, is a collection of oral histories from people who were exonerated after serving years in prison for crimes they didn't commit.

The Innocence Project does incredible work to exonerate innocent people and enact legal reform.

Let me know if you check out the article. It has certainly been impactful for me! 

13 comments:

wfayew said...

That is so disturbing. When I was in high school in smalltown, Mississippi -- I had a stalker issue. Lewd phone calls, peeping tom, sitting outside my bedroom window. When I went to the police station about it, they showed me 6 pictures (printed with an old ass printer). When I couldn't identify him, they pointed one out and said, "this is him, right? He just got out for a peeping tom and attempted rape charge." It wasn't him but they tried all they could to get me to say it was.

Kim @ Slice of Life said...

Ugh ... stuff like this is just so sad and it happens TOO often!!

I watch a LOT of Investigation Discovery - i Just watched a case today about a guy who was convicted of murder, spent 6 years in jail until the real killer came forward and confessed ... I mean, that innocent guy would've spent the rest of his life in jail if the real killer didn't decide to confess.

Also, I am applying to law schools for next year (adiĆ³s teaching!) and I applied to my alma mater FSU and cited their Innocence Project work as a main reason I wanted to attend.

so so so sad!

Kim @ Slice of Life said...

PS - I think there's a big issue in who gets to be on JURIES ...which noone ever really talks about ...but how can these juries convict people sometimes I'll never know!

Kim @ Slice of Life said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jessie said...

The prison system is something that is becoming a hot topic for me. I've started working with prisoners on a weekly basis through a ministry outreach program. Getting to know these men has softened my heart and opened my mind in more ways than I could ever imagine. I am anxious to get home and read this article...
Love you!

robayre said...

I will definitely be reading this but before I do, I just want to talk about inconsistency in sentence time. 26 years for rape? Then you hear other stories about people who serve 12 years for murder? How does this make sense?

Angela said...

The differences in compensation are interesting. I realize that no monetary value can be put on time, but the woman received none whereas the other amounts varied quite a bit. I would love to learn more on how that is determined. Is it a law battle or do the states have a breakdown on these issues?

Meg O. said...

So heartbreaking and creepy and horrible all at the same time!

Meghan said...

This is just terrible. It's amazing how DNA evidence has exonerated prisoners in recent years. But when I think of all of the missed years these gentlemen have missed, it breaks my heart.

AmericanBridget (Jones) said...

Powerful. I clicked on every bio/story. I love that you have such a deep passion for this type of social injustice. Keep on it my friend!

I'm off to scold another beagle who just jumped the baby gate for the 4th time today...seriously...a baby gate...she's almost 14 and senile and of my 3 dogs the only one who climbs it. She's all yours if you say the magic words. I'll put her on the next flight out to SFO and she and Neil Young can be the best of friends.

Charlie's Mommy (Beth) said...

Wow...I read every single one. I can't imagine finding the strength to go on each day being in prison for a crime I didn't commit. I hope therapy was provided for them afterwards.

Allison said...

I will be reading this on my lunch break - I have goosebumps though from just thinking about what these people went through. This story is so pivotal to why I'm against the death penalty - think of how many innocent people are locked up who don't even know that they can appeal these decisions. Thank you for posting this - it's really unfortunate that there are so many who the system has failed.

Christina said...

I'm going to read this right now! The worst part is that there aren't a lot of services (or money) available to them after they are freed. A lot of times they don't even have family to lean on anymore. So sad. Before having kids, I worked as a criminal defense paralegal (no class A felonies though). Most people take it the wrong way, but I definitely have a certain kind of empathy for the majority of criminals.