Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Texas Gov. Perry may run, but not with my support

    Texas Gov. Rick Perry is the newest name being thrown around as a potential Republican presidential contender. He won't have my vote.
    Texas put Cameron Todd Willingham to death by lethal injection on Feb. 17, 2004, for the murder of his three children by arson in 1991. David Grann, a staff writer at The New Yorker, has presented evidence of Willingham's innocence. He says experts later said the original arson investigators based their conclusions on "folklore" and discredited forensic evidence. You owe it to yourself and to your fellow citizens to read the New Yorker article, Trial by Fire, and to read or listen to an NPR story on the case.
    I have read the facts concerning this case and I am convinced this man was innocent. The problem is that many prosecutors, eager to get a conviction at any price, will use junk science that sounds good to a jury but has little basis in actual fact. In Mississippi, former state pathologist Steven Hayne sent hundreds of people to prison by being willing to say just about anything on the witness stand. When viewed in total, his testimony is so outlandish as to be unbelievable, and the state Supreme Court finally realized as much in at least one case. I'm sure it's the same in Texas.
    In Texas, a commission had been appointed to investigate the Willingham case after his execution. This commission was about to find that an innocent man had been executed. So in 2009 Perry replaced enough members of the board with his cronies to prevent the board from making any findings at all. And so it hasn't and apparently never will.
    It doesn't change the fact that an innocent man was executed and that Gov. Rick Perry has actively worked to cover up this fact.
    When faced with the execution of an innocent man we have three options: end capital punishment; or keep capital punishment but take steps to ensure that no more innocent people are killed; or do nothing. Now it may very well be that it is impossible to prevent innocent people from being executed, but to do as Rick Perry has done and deny the problem guarantees that more innocent people will be executed. To do nothing is to essentially kill innocent people intentionally.
    So, Gov. Perry won't have my vote. I agree with a lot of his policies, but I oppose the killing of innocent people. Apparently he doesn't.

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