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Innocence in the News

Last Tuesday, Glenn Ford became the 144th innocent person to be exonerated from death row.

Ford’s case is yet another example of the flaws of the capital punishment system in America. He was the longest-serving inmate on Louisiana’s death row, having spent almost 30 years there for a 1983 murder. According to lawyers, Ford’s case had many of the usual flaws of death penalty cases, including inexperienced legal defense and suppression of evidence that would have shown he was not involved in the murder.

Ford reflected on how his wrongful conviction had permanently altered his life. “I can’t go back and do anything I should have been doing when I was 35, 38, 40 stuff like that,” he said.

If you’ve been watching CNN’s new series “Death Row Stories,” you’ve heard the story of another recent death row exoneree and the flaws his case exposes. Edward Lee Elmore, now 53, spent 30 years on death row in South Carolina for a 1982 rape and murder. Despite overwhelming evidence indicating his innocence, it took 20 years to win his release.

Author Raymond Bonner, who wrote about Elmore, said that his case “raises every issue that shapes America’s capital punishment debate: DNA testing, mental retardation, a jailhouse snitch, incompetent defense lawyers, prosecutorial misconduct and strong claim of innocence.” As in Ford’s case, prosecutors purposefully withheld evidence that would have thrown serious doubt about Elmore’s guilt, highlighting the potential racial biases that play out when prosecutors decide on what pieces of evidence to present.

Find out more about these cases and watch clips from “Death Row Stories” online here, and be sure to catch new episodes Sunday at 8:00 pm CST.


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