Sunday, February 06, 2011

Responding to unanswered questions on Rodney Ellis' innocence legislation: "How much of an innocence problem do we really have in this state?"

The Houston Chronicle published a feature on Friday ("Ellis works to halt false convictions," Feb. 4) discussing legislation in state Sen. Rodney Ellis' "Innocence Protection Package": "Ellis' bills include many of the [Timothy Cole Advisory] panel's suggestions, including uniform procedures for eyewitness identification, requiring investigators to record interrogations in serious felonies, streamlining defendants' appeals for DNA testing, and reorganizing Texas' indigent defense task force." The story by Bobby Cervantes gave a great deal of space to pro-death penalty zealot Dudley Sharp, who issued some ignorant criticisms of the bills that the article left unanswered:
Dudley Sharp, a death penalty advocate and founder of Justice Matters, said anti-death penalty activists inflate the number of innocence claims to create a sense of urgency to pass the bills.

"How much of an innocence problem do we really have in this state?" Sharp said. "Before we do legislation, I would like to have identified how much of a problem this is, really?"

He said innocence advocates do not separate the number of actually innocent exonerees — meaning they had no connection to the crime - and those who are released based on a legal technicality or error.
Ellis' bill to require police to record interrogations also raises concerns about what evidence prosecutors will be allowed to use in court, Sharp said.

"Sometimes it's a lot easier to get a confession from somebody at the scene or right when you arrest them, where they're emotional, they'll waive their rights, and they'll confess," he said. "There has to be a provision whereby all of that stuff can still come in, and a judge can weigh the credibility of allowing it into trial. You can't just exclude them."
Ah, Dudley, Dudley, Dudley ... where to start? Let's take the last item first: Sharp's criticism of requiring recording of custodial interrogations after violent crimes. It's clear from his comments that Sharp is completely shooting from the hip. He hasn't read Ellis' bill and doesn't realize there are specific provision addressing each of his "concerns," which are less concerns than red herrings thrown up to divert attention from more probative debates. For starters, the bill says interrogations must be recorded unless "good cause exists that makes electronic recording infeasible," which would include his example about confessions at the scene.

Sharp also doesn't seem to understand that the bill does not apply the exclusionary rule when confessions aren't recorded - the only "remedy" is a jury instruction, so the bill would not prevent a jury from hearing about un-recorded confessions at trial. I think it should, but that's not what the bill does. Instead, they'd just be told that the law requires recording and the police didn't do it. Big whoop.

So these criticisms all are based on false information provided to the reporter by Sharp himself, which I'm sorry to say Mr. Cervantes could have easily checked (and debunked) just by reading the bill. It's hard to understand why these arguments were even allowed into the story, much less why they were allowed to go unquestioned.

Similarly, Sharp wonders aloud, "How much of an innocence problem do we really have in this state? ... Before we do legislation, I would like to have identified how much of a problem this is, really?" But this is a question that can actually be answered, or at least reasonably estimated. So, since the Chronicle didn't take up the task, let's run through the various available estimates.

For starters, the Chron notes, there have been 42 DNA exonerations where biological evidence tested years after convictions proved (to the satisfaction of the courts, at least) that the convictions should be overturned based on actual innocence. Keep in mind, though, that a) biological evidence only exists in 10% of violent crimes, and b) most agencies have thrown away or failed to test potentially exonerating evidence. So those 42 cases represent essentially a microsample of a much-larger pool of innocent people convicted where DNA either doesn't exist or was never tested.

In 41 of Texas DNA exonerations, innocent men walked of prison; in the other, Timothy Cole, who died while incarcerated, was exonerated posthumously. Half those cases (21) came out of Dallas. So to reach a back-of-the-envelope estimate, here's the current breakdown of DNA exonerations:
  • Dallas: 21
  • Rest of State: 21
Since DNA evidence is only available in 10% of violent crimes, assume that innocent people among those 90% cannot be exonerated by DNA and remain in prison. That would bring the total of convicted innocents exonerated and in prison to:
  • Dallas: 210
  • Rest of State: 210
But Dallas kept their old evidence and DA Craig Watkins teamed up with the Innocence Project of Texas (for whom, in the interest of full disclosure, I'm currently working as a consultant) to vet old cases for possible innocence claims. In the rest of the state, most jurisdictions threw evidence out in older cases, or else have thousands of rape kits in untested backlogs. It's probably generous to assume most jurisdictions kept biological evidence in even 10% of old cases, even more so to believe that those samples have all been tested. But even if both those unlikely assumptions were true, that would still mean our estimate for the likely number of innocent people in the rest of the state goes up by another factor of ten, or:
  • Dallas: 210
  • Rest of State: 2,100
  • Total: 2,310 innocent people in prison or recently exonerated
Notably, that gets us right into the ballpark with other possible methodologies of estimating innocence.

Josh Marquis of the National District and County Attorneys Association used his own back-of-the-napkin methodology to estimate an actual innocence rate of .75%, which would be about 1,200 prisoners currently incarcerated in Texas. Looking at the rate of Texas death row exonerations and applying it to the whole prison population would get you around 2,400 innocent prisoners. Applying other innocence rates estimated from various sources to Texas' large prison population gets estimates as high as 3,500 to 5,000 innocent prisoners out of those currently incarcerated.

All of these estimates, I've argued, may understate the false conviction rate by excluding drug war cases. And whatever rate one decides is fair to apply to the prison population, the rate among probationers is likely a little higher because of the incentive innocent people have to take a deal to avoid incarceration.

These false convictions are happening for specific, often repetitive reasons: The most attention has been focused on the failure by police to use best practices for eyewitness identification, but there are a litany of other contributing factors (which regular readers could likely recite) like mendacious informants, goal-oriented forensics, false confessions, and occasionally even police and prosecutor misconduct. On some of these topics, the Texas Lege may take a few baby steps this year, as with Ellis' "Innocence Protection Package," but by no means will these much-compromised bills solve the problem.

So yes, 42 DNA exonerations in Texas are a serious concern. But what's outright alarming is that these men represent just a handful out of hundreds or likely even thousands of other innocent people sitting in Texas prisons who modern technology cannot liberate.

Dudley Sharp wants to deflect debate on innocence legislation into a simplistic up or down vote on the death penalty, even though hardly any of Texas' DNA exonerees came from death row. These bills are instead about those hundreds or thousands of innocent non-death row prisoners, and the future thousands who should never end up in prison in the first place if the system can weed them out before a wrongful conviction ever occurs.

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

Seems to me there are way too many variables across the board for you to make many of the assumptions and generalizations you make. Many of the exonerations involve law enforcement practices which have already evolved. The same DNA technology used to correct many of these decades old mistakes, is frequently available on the front end to prevent many identification errors. Also, I feel that it's improper to consider that portion of the prison population which is there by virtue of a guilty plea. While there are likely a few innocents in this group, the percentage is likely much lower than in the Dallas County micro-sample that you use as the foundation for most of your assumptions.

rodsmith said...

i dont' know about that 02:52:00 i saw a report years ago on a federal study done just on this...innocent people convicted...that report put the number at about 10% of ALL convictions a year are actually innocent. Wish i'd kept it.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

2:52 writes: "Many of the exonerations involve law enforcement practices which have already evolved."

Most of them were eyewitness ID problems, followed by false confessions, forensic shortcomings that haven't been fixed, and lying snitches. What has been done in those areas? Not enough to say the problem has been solved.

FWIW, nationally 25% of DNA exonerations involved either false confessions or guilty pleas, so I think your distinction on that front is ill-founded. The plea bargain system can produce some perverse incentives.

Josh Marquis said...

My "back of the napkin" analysis actually came in response to Prof. Samuel Gross' study printed in the Journal of Criminal Law in 2005, a symposium at Northwestern Law School in Chicago at which I also spoke and wrote an article which has generated it's share of controversy.
Gross claimed that he had specifically identified about 400 cases of rape and murder in which the defendants were wrongly convicted for a time period of roughly 13 years. He argued - not unreasonably - that since many cases can't be resolved despositively without DNA - that the actual numbers were higher.
I took all the willful murder and forcible rapes for that time period (about 1.5 million) and then assumed Prof. Gross had UNDERestimnated by a factor of 10, that there were 4000, not 400 wrongly convicted people in that group. If even vaguely true that would mean a 99.74% rate of non-wrongful conviction.
I can't speak to Texas but I know that a couple of the cases Gross cited in Oregon were NOT people who were factually innocent but even if they were and agreeing that the justice system is fallible and needs improvement, can't we start from a position of being realistic about the problems?
I was a defense attorney doing capital defense and other serious criminal indigent and retained work 20 years ago and none of my clients ever got a death or true life sentence. But as best as I could tell none of them were innocent either. That's not the criteria for a vigorous defense but claiming that our system is chock-a-block with doe-eyed innocents simply isn't true and when jurors and others discover that they look askance on even legitimate calls for reform.

Audrey said...

02/06 4:39 says:
". But as best as I could tell none of them were innocent either. That's not the criteria for a vigorous defense but claiming that our system is chock-a-block with doe-eyed innocents simply isn't true and when jurors and others discover that they look akance on even legitimate calls for reform."

I have one thing to say to that....it is precisely that attitude (held by prosecution, defense attorneys, judges and jury) that create an impossible environment for an innocent person. An innocent person does not have a chance in hell in this system....if you don't believe me go read my blog.

While incarcerated following my wrongful conviction I met literally dozens of women who should have never been there.

Anonymous said...

Amen Audrey Amen

Anonymous said...

When criminals, defense lawyers and their supporters are allowed to define this argument, it's only natural to expect them to overstate the nature and degree of the problem. They have every incentive to make the job of law enforcement and prosecutors more difficult. Hopefully the Republican Texas Legislature will see past these fallacious arguments and reject this pro-criminal legislation.

Anonymous said...

I hope that Kerry Cook won't mind me quoting from his book. This is a quote from the guy that was the sheriff of Cherokee County at one time:

"It is no mystery that innocent people plea-bargain and accept conviction. The power of the Government is a reality that criminal defendants and their attorneys accept every day. The Government has at its disposal police investigative power, prosecutors, and often a jury, which is predisposed towards the prosecution. In short the deck is stacked in favor of the prosecution. In the Cook trials and reversals, we have been shown that information was withheld, questionable testimony was used, circumstantial evidence was in question, and the prosecutorial integrity was compromised. If we allow lies and insufficient evidence to convict the guilty, will we not allow the same to convict the innocent."

8:12, does it really make sense to define something that is supposed to protect the innocent as "pro-criminal." I'm sure, in your view, everyone who is accused is a criminal, whether they are guilty or not. Unfortunately, that attitude is all too common. You just better hope that you are never one of those that are wrongly accused. How would you feel if you spent 22 years on death row as Cook did, or 18 years as Graves did. I don't know what the numbers would be but there is a long, long list of people who have been exonerated, people who are factually innocent. What percentage is acceptable?

Some people say you can't expect perfection. I guess that's true. No system ran by man will ever be perfect. But, that doesn't mean we shouldn't strive for perfection. Our goal should be to make sure only the guilty get convicted. Instead, some seem to have the attitude that we shouldn't even set goals and the status quo is just fine. If you are one of the unfortunate to be wrongly accused, tough shit.

Even if we can't have a perfect system, we certainly can have a much better system than we have now. Those who think the system works just fine now have their heads up their asses.

Anonymous said...

Hey Josh Marquis, there is a huge flaw in your "back of the napkin" analysis. You say Dr. Gross found 400 cases of wrongful convictions. Then you take the total number of that particular crime 1.5 million, why? Did Dr. Gross look at all 1.5 million of those cases. If not, how can you extrapolate anything from that. Yes, you multiplied his number by 10 but, so what? For all you know you should have multiplied by 100, 200, 300, I don't know and you don't either. Without knowing how many cases Dr. Gross looked at to arrive at his 400 number, you can't determine a percentage using the 1.5 million. That's just plain stupid. Say he looked at 1000 cases. That would be 40%. Say he looked at 10,000 cases. That would be 4%. Your analysis using the 1.5 million is total garbage and thus your conclusion is completely worthless. For all you know 40,000 of that 1.5 million could be wrongly convicted, or manybe its 100,000 or maybe its 200,000, you simply have no way of knowing and using the number of 400 yields nothing useful unless you know how many actual cases Dr. Gross looked at. I don't know, maybe you are assuming Dr. Gross found all of the wrongful convictions that exist for that type of crime. If its that easy then all we have to do is have him find all the wrongful convictions for other types of crimes. Problem solved. But, you know as well as I that he did not find them all. So, neither you nor I have any idea how many of those 1.5 million are wrongful convictions. Your "back of the napkin" analysis is totally worthless and doesn't tell you a thing about the rate of wrongful convictions. I hope you did a better job as a defense attorney than you did in this "back of the napkin" analysis.

Anonymous said...

Another problem that has not been corrected, and is frequently the cause of wrongful convictions is prosecutorial misconduct. As long as prosecutors continue to enjoy absolute immunity from civil suits, no disciplinary action, no criminal charges, when they engage in serious and intentional misconduct, we will continue to see a lot of wrongful convictions. Just look at the Kerry Cook case, the Anthony Graves case, Connick v Thompson, Pottawattamie v. McGhee, etc.

Anonymous said...

Why do people find it so hard to see the need for due process? A fair trial? Especially people who work in the criminal justice system who should be educated regarding these matters. It's disheartening. This whole argument that procedure doesn't matter when they're guilty is a contradiction....how do you know they are really guilty if proper procedure is not followed? And, procedure cannot be compromised when the State needs to do it to make their case. Rule of Law.

Anonymous said...

If there is only ONE innocent person wrongfully convicted, we
should all be concerned.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Thanks for the clarification, Josh. However, you fail to add in your response the same information you sent in an email to me awhile back, specificially your letter to the New York Times, updating the estimate you mention based on Prof. Gross' numbers because of the very flaw 9:00 p.m. mentions. Here's the text, which you sent me:

"In a column by Adam Liptak Professor Samuel Gross criticized the method by which Justice Scalia relied upon in determining that wrongful convictions are exceedingly rare. Gross' study published in 2005 listed just under 400 cases of both rape, murder, and a few other felonies which he claimed were exonerations. Since it was my arithmetic that is under challenge I refined my statistics. Using federal statistics for the relevant time period (1989-2003) of total rapes and non-negligent homicides only (not merely felonies) and still allowing for the assumption that Professor Gross under-reported exonerations by a factor of 10, so that there were in fact 4000, not 400 false convictions, the rate of rightful conviction is still 99.25%.

"No-one is claiming the justice system is infallible and it can always use tinkering but is it better for 1000 guilty men go free to spare one innocent man? How many innocent victims are acceptable losses for those who criticize my math?

"Joshua Marquis
District Attorney
Astoria, OR"

So that's why I used the .75% figure instead of the number you mentioned - by your own account it was your updated estimate after you'd accounted for valid criticisms of the denominator in your original methodology.

Finally, just to be clear, whoever was on Prof. Gross' list, the individuals on the Innocence Project of Texas' list (with the notable exception of Timothy Cole, which was a posthumous exoneration) only include those DNA exonerations where Texas Court of Criminal Appeals granted habeas relief on actual innocence grounds, for which the standard is that "no reasonable juror" would have convicted in light of the new evidence. No non-DNA cases nor any not yet finally approved through the Court of Criminal Appeals are included on the list. Whether they're "doe-eyed innocents" (and I doubt anybody is after decades living in prison falsely convicted), these aren't cases where there's any doubt about innocence in the crimes for which they were exonerated - in many cases, in fact, DNA identified the actual offenders.

Anonymous said...

While I don't want to suggest that DNA exonerations aren't valid, or that prosecutorial misconduct (when it occurs) should be ignored, I do have to note that any system that gets it right 99+% of the time is working pretty well. After all, if you want to change the standard of proof to "beyond any and all doubt," instead of "beyond a reasonable doubt" then you have to accept that sometimes mistakes will be made. We simply have to do our best to avoid them if possible and fix them when we can. But if the cost of a zero wronfful conviction rate is zero convictions, I'm not willing to pay it.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I meant "unless you want to change" not "if you want to change."

Gritsforbreakfast said...

9:29 writes, "any system that gets it right 99+% of the time is working pretty well"

How about a system that gets it right 98.5% of the time? 97.7%? 96.7%? Marquis' estimate by far is on the low end of those linked in the post. If between 1,200 and 5,000 innocent people are in prison in Texas today, is that really okay with you?

In manufacturing, by contrast, many companies like Motorolla now shoot for "Six Sigma" error rate, while the error rate in the criminal justice system lies between three and four sigmas. Unlike manufacturing, though, special interests in the justice system, far from constantly seeking to reduce error rates, actively fight efforts to minimize errors, as evidenced by Mr. Sharp's knee-jerk opposition.

Don said...

9:29: I have heard this argument many times, framed many different ways. So I have tried to nutshell what you and others are saying when you make it. Here's the nutshell. "If we have to kill a few innocents in our quest to kill all the guilty ones. then so be it". That pretty much it?

Anonymous said...

Anyone innocent incarcerated, anyone innocent put to death is to many. If it were my innocent family member I would be screaming loudly. Hell, I am concerned about it anyway. There should not be one innocent person incarcerated!!!!!!!!!!!!

les breeding said...

Let's take Grit's Six Sigma point a little further...

You know, it sounds pretty good be right 99% of the time...

But you would never accept a one in a hundred rate when it comes to buying a toaster, or a computer, or a car... A car manufacturer would be out of business if every 100th car was a complete and total lemon...

So just to be clear, the Six Sigma error rate is 99.99966%.... that translates to 34 mistakes out of 10,000,000...

The back of the envelop error rates the prosecutors are mentioning equal 1 or 2 or 3 errors per hundred prosecutions which is 100,000 or 200,000 or 300,000 per 10 million prosecutions...

But all the talk of error rate and such makes no difference if it is me or my loved one on death row ... one is too many in that case.

There is one obvious and simple solution to totally elimiate the error on death row ... make life without parole the maximum penalty.

Then no one has to die when those enevitable errors happen...

Audrey said...

Even one innocent person incarcerated is too much. I do not think it error guys! I think prosecution is absolutely set on getting conictions. PERIOD! In my own case they withheld exculpatory evidence, they coached the State witnesses (these witnesses said a different set of lies in their depositions in a civil case that paralleled the criminal case - two years earlier) AND the DPD detective outright lied and got away with it. That is not an error, it is malescious prosecution. And, even if I do get my case overturned in the appeals court, these people will never be held accountable....they will just go on to do it over and over again. THAT is our justice system. It is about convictions at all costs...including your life and mine...if necessary. Don't fool yourself. Pray you never get wrongly convicted.

SEMPERFINE said...

Mr. Henson:
First, it is sadly subjective for you to be condescending, patronizing, or personally insulting to Dudley Sharp. While his views may not be shared by either you or the majority of your readers, it is demeaning and distracting to be use personal attacks against any advocate. I have never observed you using the term "Zealot" to describe B.S. Cobb, Jeanette Pope, or the Persian cowboy.
Mr Sharp has done yeoman service for the citizens of Texas, especially victims of violent crime, since 1993. Please allow him some respect for at least that effort.
Having said that, I find the concept of ignoring or attempting to minimize the basic horrible tragedy of innocents being wrongfully punished to be short sighted, insensitive, and anathema to the American Judicial system. Every resource, including the proposals of Senator Ellis's should be studied for their value and put into place to avoid at all costs the punishment of innocents.
However, once guilt and reasonable doubt have been resolved, then any proscribed punishment, up to and including execution, should be applied. It's not "Justice for All" otherwise.

Anonymous said...

9:29 a.m. wrote...But if the cost of a zero wronfful conviction rate is zero convictions, I'm not willing to pay it.

You are not the one who pays for it....some other guy denied his due process rights is the one who pays for it. You probably have some "good old boys" deferring prosecution for you. It happens all the time.

Anonymous said...

It does not matter only because it's someone else (and not you) paying for it.... over and over again...this is the issue.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

9:29 a.m. wrote: "But if the cost of a zero wrongful conviction rate is zero convictions, I'm not willing to pay it."

Except this is a straw man. No one is saying that and the legislation proposed is actually quite minimalist.

To Semperfine, when have you ever seen me mention "B.S. Cobb, Jeanette Pope, or the Persian cowboy" one way or the other? Blogs are inherently "subjective" - certainly this one - and even you agree Dudley's attempt to "minimize the basic horrible tragedy of innocents being wrongfully punished" was "short sighted, insensitive, and anathema to the American Judicial system."

How is it possible to rebut his arguments without pointing out, even if it seems rude, that he's just making stuff up, hasn't read the bills, and doesn't have a clue what he is talking about? Dudley is a "zealot" - he sees every debate as a proxy for his fight with abolitionists. And calling his comments "ignorant" wasn't insult, just observation. He simply hasn't read the legislation and his statements proved so on their face.

Hook Em Horns said...

As I has said before and will say again, you law and order morons (and that's exactly what you are) have a damn good chance at hiring me and the possibility of being dressed out in white, workin on the hoe squad if we just keep on gunnin the way we are.

Split hairs all you want over 99%, 98% or whatever, it wont matter when it's your ass in front of the judge on some crap case with liars and story-tellers on the other side.

If the cases in Texas were isolated or few in number, than perhaps we could logically assume the system has minor defects but seeing how we incarcerate like crazy and own the distinction of having more DNA and NON-DNA exonerations than ANY STATE IN THE UNION...SOMETHING IS SYSTEMATICALLY WRONG!

Anonymous said...

One person arrested, convicted and especially executed who is innocent is one too many. We are suppose to be the leader of the free world in human rights and protecting individuals rights. A person's Constitutional Rights are none today in our legal system. You are guilty until proven innocence from the time of the arrest. Your picture is posted on the internet and everyone makes the assumption you did it because of our too quick to pass judgement attitudes. Corrupted Law Enforcement, DA'S and Judges trying to further their agenda's and wallets will do anything to save face even if it means putting innocent people in prison or even executing them. I was raised if you did not break the law you have nothing to worry about. I fear our legal system today because instead of protecting us it fails us. The Law of Parties has been especially hard on women in this country. It is so easy to say you should not have been there But no one takes into accounts that with our legal system today it is all about wheeling and dealing basically a roll of the dice. I have seen people flat out tell lies on some one to save their own neck. I have seen three criminals band together with a DA to convict an innocent women. Our country leatures other countries about equal rights for women but we need to look in the mirror here because our legal system fails women.

dudleysharp said...

Scott:

As you properly identified me, I am a death penalty guy and a very reasoned one at that.

You, on the other hand, are just a jerk.

My specific point about knowing how much of an innocent problem we really have is based upon the obvious anti death penalty fraud, with regard to the exonerated from death row.

That wasn't made clear in the article.

I am not challeneging how many DNA exclusion cases are actually innocent.

Please review:

"The 130 (now 139) death row 'innocents' scam"
http://homicidesurvivors.com/2009/03/04/fact-checking-issues-on-innocence-and-the-death-penalty.aspx

In Texas, we have various anti death penalty folks, in the media and otherwise, saying we have exonerated 11 or 12 from death row, based upon that same deception.

It would be nice if folks were honest about the numbers.

Maybe, Scott, you will help?

For example:

This is the fact checking challenge I sent to the Houston Chronicle editors and all crime reporters on 1/3/11, which was blind copied to all major newspapers in Texas and hundreds, elsewhere.

No response. Of course.

Jack.Sweeney@chron.com, Jeff.Cohen@chron.com, John.Wilburn@chron.com, Steve.Jetton@chron.com, Lisa.Gray@chron.com, david.langworthy@chron.com, tim.fleck@chron.com, viewpoints@chron.com, outlook@chron.com, brian.rogers@chron.com, lise.olsen@chron.com, jeannie.kever@chron.com, rick.casey@chron.com, mike.tolson@chron.com, allan.turner@chron.com, readerrep@chron.com, rg.ratcliffe@chron.com, tom.fowler@chron.com, harvey.rice@chron.com, jennifer.dlouhy@chron.com, peggy.ohare@chron.com

In a message dated 1/3/2011 6:43:17 A.M. Central Standard Time, Sharpjfa@aol.com writes:

To: The Editorial Board and crime reporters, Houston Chronicle

From: Dudley Sharp

The Houston Chronicle wrote:

"The exoneration of 11 Texas death row residents has undoubtedly made the public - and potential jury pools - more aware of the possibility that a death sentence could be an irreversible mistake." (1)

I wish to fact check these claims and hope the Chronicle will assist.

Will you:

1) name the 11 exonerated and provide evidence of their actual innocence?
2) define what the Chronicle means by "exonerated" if it is not actual innocence?
3) define "irreversible mistake"? Does it mean an actual innocent executed or something else?
4) review what the inmate's counsel, state counsel and the appellate courts concluded about these cases?

--------------------------------------------

1) "The death penalty: It's time for capital punishment to become Texas history, HOUSTON CHRONICLE, Jan. 1, 2011, 4:32PM)

dudleysharp said...

My conversations in the Houston Chronicle, with regard to the subject article.

tigerbice
6:46 AM on February 4, 2011

"How much of an innocence problem do we really have in this state?" Sharp said. "Before we do legislation, I would like to have identified how much of a problem this is, really?"
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Uh,Mr Sharp,if you convict even one innocent person,then it's a problem.Especially if you give them the death penalty.

dudleysharp
9:19 AM on February 4, 2011

tigerbice:

I agree with you. My point is that we should be accurate and not deceptive, as my more full reply details.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

dudleysharp
9:03 AM on February 4, 2011

This comment is hidden because you have chosen to ignore dudleysharp. Show DetailsHide Details

catsmack & tigerbice:

It is well known that there is much deception with claims of exoneration, innocence and wrongful conviction.

For example:

The 130 (now 138) death row "innocents" scam
http://homicidesurvivors.com/2009/03/04/fact-checking-issues-on-innocence-and-the-death-penalty.aspx

As you can read with that link, we are looking at about an 83% error rate in the innocence/exoneration claims.

The importance of identifying the actually innocent, those truly unrelated to the crimes, is that we will be able to accurately identify why those cases resulted in improper arrest, indictment, trial and convictions, thereby dealing with those issues, specifically, for correction, through training and legislation, if needed.

It is best to make these decisions based upon the facts and not on deception.

dudleysharp said...

forgot Houston Chronicle link

http://www.chron.com/disp/discuss.mpl/metropolitan/7412163.html?gta=commentform#commentform

dudleysharp said...

and from San Antonio Express News

http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/politics/texas_legislature/articleComments/Four-bills-target-errant-convictions-997432.php?gta=commentform#commentform

dudley sharp
11:37 AM on February 5, 2011

pontifikate:

It didn't really come thorugh in the story, but I was addressing the deceptions used by anti death penalty folks, whereby about 80% of their "exonerated" claims are deceptive.

I can only hope the non death penalty claims are not nearly so fraudulent.

Please review:


4) "The Innocent Executed: Deception & Death Penalty Opponents"
http://homicidesurvivors.com/2009/10/08/the-innocent-executed-deception--death-penalty-opponents--draft.aspx


5) The 130 (now 138) death row "innocents" scam
http://homicidesurvivors.com/2009/03/04/fact-checking-issues-on-innocence-and-the-death-penalty.aspx


6) Sister Helen Prejean & the death penalty: A Critical Review"
http://homicidesurvivors.com/2009/05/04/sister-helen-prejean--the-death-penalty-a-critical-review.aspx

dudleysharp said...

SEMPERFINE:

Thanks for the defense. Kind of you.

I don't mind getting wooped on, if I deserve it. I was speaking of the false exoneration claims from death row and that we must find accurate numbers, FIRST, and, from there, review how truly innocent people were convicted and how to best minimize that in the future.

My comments in the Chron and SAEN comment section of the subject article make that clear.

It appears the only folks who don't want the actually innocent to be properly identified are the anti death penalty folks, who, with their enablers in the media,
wish to deceptively raise the numbers far beyond the actually innocent.

Let's reasonably and accurately identify the truly innocent, FIRST, then we can review the circumstamces that allowed that to happen and work to minimize those cases.

That is what the overwhelming majority of folks, justly, desire and the innocents deserve no less.

dudleysharp said...

Scott:

Regarding me "shooting from the hip", I most certainly was.

I had never read the bills and Cervantes knew that. I was making comments on the bills based exclusively on what Cervantes told me.

Ask him. His email is
rcervantes@express-news.net

I am, of course, pleased that Ellis shared my concerns and addressed them properly in his bill, as he should have.

But, lets look at my other point, from the article:

Dudley Sharp, a death penalty advocate and founder of Justice Matters, said anti-death penalty activists inflate the number of innocence claims to create a sense of urgency to pass the bills.


"How much of an innocence problem do we really have in this state?" Sharp said. "Before we do legislation, I would like to have identified how much of a problem this is, really?"


He said innocence advocates do not separate the number of actually innocent exonerees — meaning they had no connection to the crime - and those who are released based on a legal technicality or error.


It is clear from the first paragraph that I am speaking of death row and the next two are tied to it.

The case for this well known anti death penalty deception is well known and not disputed, as detailed in my earlier posts, herein. Why Scott is upset with being clear and honest is a mystery. I think most folks want to know what the true degree of sentencing actual innocents to death row really is, as opposed to being deceived by anti death penalty folks.

Scott?

On 1/24, I sent 3 separate e mails to Cervnates, all supportive of my speciifc point of anti death penalty deception with regard to their exonerated/innocents scam. That is all I sent him, because it was my only point.

emailed 3

Anonymous said...

Some of the best articles and information (besides Grits) on innocence, false accusations, and false convictions comes from http://cotwa.info . The Community of The Wrongly Accused.