Florida Sees Its 12th DNA Exoneree

Sunday, December 20th, 2009

Last week, James Bain was released from a Florida prison after serving 35 years for a crime he didn’t commit. DNA testing finally cleared Bain of raping a young boy in 1974.

Bain is the 12th exoneree in Florida since the onset of DNA testing. Orlando Sentinel columnist Scott Maxwell, who has pursued the phony Florida dog handler cases I’ve written about previously, is calling on the state to set up an innocence commission.

Already, three men convicted with help from a discredited dog handler — who manufactured bogus evidence to connect suspects with crimes — have been exonerated after spending years, even decades, behind bars.

But the dog handler testified in many more cases. And judicial activists are convinced others were wrongfully convicted.

Yet the men who could actually do something about that — Gov. Charlie Crist, Attorney General Bill McCollum and Brevard-Seminole State Attorney Norm Wolfinger — have refused to conduct an investigation.

Instead, these three career politicians have argued that it’s up to the defendants themselves to prove their own innocence … from behind bars … and without resources.

Then, in cases where the wrongfully convicted are finally freed, they respond: See, the system works!

The lack of shame and humanity is appalling…

“If there’s one thing these guys have in common,” said Centurion Ministries attorney Paul Casteleiro, “it’s that they are all guys nobody will miss.”

They didn’t have the resources to mount vigorous defenses when they were first charged — or knowledgeable attorneys who could combat the tactics, such as jail-house snitches, that are so often used to convict them.

This is a common refrain from state officials and prosecutors. “It isn’t our job to find innocent people in the prisons.” Even in jurisdictions where there’s every reason to believe an unusually high number of innocent people have been convicted. They threw the state’s resources at putting the people behind bars in the first place, but argue it’s the responsibility of the wrongly convicted themselves or cash-strapped non-profit groups like the Innocence Project to bring the cases to the attention of the courts—usually as the same prosecutor offices fight them every step of the way.

It makes what Dallas District Attorney Craig Watkins is doing all the more remarkable—and commendable.

Related: The Washington Post has a strong editorial decrying the delayed justice in the case of Donald Gates, also freed last week after serving 27 years for a rape and murder in Washington, D.C. He was convicted due to testimony from a fraudulent FBI crime lab worker and lies from a paid FBI informant. DNA testing showed he didn’t commit the crime.

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9 Responses to “Florida Sees Its 12th DNA Exoneree”

  1. #1 |  Aresen | 

    This is a common refrain from state officials and prosecutors. “It isn’t our job to find innocent people in the prisons.”

    Someone needs to explain to them that: “It isn’t our job to find put innocent people in the prisons.”

  2. #2 |  Dan | 

    His life has been destroyed. In some ways, he may as well have received the death penalty: the best years of his life pissed away forever. In the film “Unforgiven” Clint Eastwood said “killing a man is a hell of a thing; you take away all he has or ever will have.” What kind of life is this poor bastard going to have with the few years he has left in this world? What is he going to do at that age? There is nothing in this world that can fix this bloody abortion of justice. The $ is cold comfort for what he had to endure in prison as an identified molester. Some day the evil men who did this to him will have to answer for it; but not in this world.

  3. #3 |  Light | 

    Aren’t these people liable for perjury on the stand and tampering with evidence? Isn’t that prison punishable crime?

  4. #4 |  Mattocracy | 

    Again, this is the DA and law enforcement manufacturing evidence and depriving people of their civil rights. Why are they not being investigated by the DOJ?

  5. #5 |  Bill Anderson | 

    Since the DOJ is a “win at all costs” entity, one hardly can expect the same people to investigate “win at all costs” at the state level. THIS is the American “justice” system. There is no other.

    All of this crap of “the system works” really is crap. The system does not work because of the moral hazard in the system; those entrusted with it do not have to worry about facing any sanctions for committing crimes. Thus, we see a line of work that attracts bullies and criminals.

    As for this notion of “a few bad apples,” I have news for you cop and prosecutor enablers: the barrel is rotten.

  6. #6 |  Andrew Williams | 

    Innocence commission? Not on MY watch! :hic:

    Sincerely,
    Jeb Bush

  7. #7 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    “It isn’t our job to find innocent people in the prisons.”

    And it isn’t my job to constantly watch to make sure my foot isn’t up your ass.

  8. #8 |  DR CLARENCE W MOORE | 

    This is another example of perverted justice in the USA! Politicians serve for a while as prosecutors (actually persecutors!), claiming all kinds of distorted and false credit, and then moving on to higher office, where they refuse to help the innocent who are incarcerated. We need to have laws requiring that judges, juries, prosecutors, informers, and others responsible for false incarceration spend, day-for-day, the same amount of time incarcerated as those who were falsely imprisoned. We may claim to be the most free nation on earth, but we have the highest percentage of our population behind bars of any nation on earth, including China, Cuba, Russia, Vietnam, Myanmar, etc. Why is it that NO ONE will listen to an innocent man who proclaims his innocence?? The famous “innocent until proven guilty” does NOT apply in the USA! Any fool can see that the rule is “guilty until proven innocent,” just because some disgruntled cop did not make his quota of tickets that day.

  9. #9 |  Rick Scott: Limited Government Hero | The Agitator | 

    [...] Florida Gov. Rick Scott has saved Florida taxpayers a whopping $200,000 . . . by eliminating the state’s two-year-old Innocence Commission. [...]

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