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Sunday on Death Row

The NCADP is promoting CNN's Death Row Stories series.

"This Sunday CNN will air Episode V of their Death Row Stories series. This will be the last episode until the show returns with three more stories in July. Don't miss it!

In December 1984, a prominent young businessman was robbed and killed outside of his New Orleans apartment. A month later, police arrested a small time drug dealer named John Thompson, who had sold the murder weapon on the black market. Prosecutors for the office of District Attorney Harry Connick Sr., quickly secured a conviction for first-degree murder. An unrelated carjacking charge helped ensure Thompson’s ticket to death row. Thompson was just three weeks away from execution when Elisa Abolafia, a private investigator, discovered evidence that would lead to charges of prosecutorial misconduct ... and to Thompson’s freedom. Location: New Orleans, LA; Producer/Director: Kenneth Levis."

The series is particularly timely, in light of Texas denial of Todd Willingham's posthumous pardon as reported in the New York Times. Cameron Todd Willingham was executed February 17, 2004. You can see documents and more on his website and the other side here.The Texas Legislature enacted a bill to prevent wrongful convictions, allowing new evidence. It behooves the mind to think a state with model reforms allowing new forensic evidence to prove a wrongful conviction would, on the other spectrum, not comply with federal law.

"Stephen Saloom, policy director of the Innocence Project [of Texas], told USA Today the problem of "junk" forensic science isn't confined to Texas."

The Huffington Post reports:

"This is not just a Texas problem. This is happening all over the country," Saloom said. "Texas just happens to be a leader in its willingness to reconsider convictions based on such evidence."

The Innocence Project of Texas discusses the beneficial policy in their blog, Grits for Breakfast."The Texas law specifically allows people convicted of crimes to bring fresh appeals by claiming that new science contradicts forensic evidence used in past trials."SB 344 was signed into law June 13, 2013, enacted September 1, 2013 and leads the nation with this important legislation.

The Huffington Post also presents some statistics:

"The state that executes the most people in the United States by far is also leading a charge to give wrongly convicted inmates a chance to clear their names."

According the Death Penalty Information Center [DPIC], Florida is a close 4th to Virginia and Oklahoma. Texas has executed over 20% more prisoners than any other state, and the governor refuses to comply with federal law passed in 2003, reported by CBS. The Raw Story reports that the governor will not sign a compliance form. Furthermore, the Governor Perry could be a presidential candidate in 2016, according to CBS.

Texas is a large state.

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