I‘ll be honest, in past campaigns for the United States Senate and House of Representatives, I didn’t find too much interest in this issue. Nobody asked me if I had a plan for getting the innocent out of jail or how I planned to stop having the innocent convicted in the first place. This is probably because this is not an issue that directly affects an awful lot of us.
It should interest every American, however, because we convict the innocent all the time. The long march of usually black men being freed from prison, and sometimes death row, is almost a revolving door and we are now seeing men released after 40 or more years behind bars for something they didn’t do. As I write this over 800 men have been released from prison for murders they did not commit and over 150 of them were released from death row. My own personal estimate, really nothing more than a somewhat uneducated guess, is that between ten and 15 percent of those currently incarcerated didn’t commit the crimes they were convicted of.
For a nation conceived in liberty, these numbers should cause all of us to go stand in the corner in shame. I don’t like crime any more than you do, but convicting the innocent in America is unacceptable. Even if we’re not in any immediate danger of being convicted of something we didn’t do ourselves, this is an issue we should all be concerned with.
We deserve better. We deserve an America that does not convict the innocent. We deserve an America we can be proud of.
So let’s demand better in November. The choice, as always, is ours: we can continue to accept the status quo or we can demand better.