Wednesday, January 18, 2012

US death penalty sentencing again reversed

Today marks the end of a very long ordeal for four Chicago men who were unjustly convicted as teenagers. After 17 years, Michael Saunders, Harold Richardson, Vincent Thames and Terrill Swift—have finally been exonerated of the 1994 murder of Nina Glover. The State’s Attorney’s Office announced at a hearing today that they are dismissing the indictments against the four men. The decision follows a judge’s November 2011 order to vacate the four convictions. Saunders, Richardson, Thames and Swift have spent most of their adult lives in prison. They were between the ages of 15 and 18 when they arrested. Based on false confessions and without a shred of physical evidence, they were wrongfully convicted and sentenced to 30-40 years in prison. Their cases, and others in Cook County, reveal a dangerous pattern of injustice based on false confessions. The Innocence Project is calling on Cook County to conduct a review of all cases involving juvenile confessions. In the past four months, ten people have been exonerated through DNA testing in Illinois after being unjustly convicted based on confessions they gave as teenagers. Thailand also bases convictions on forced confessions, unsupported by credible evidence. However the possibility of reversing sentences hardly exists. The only way of reforming the death penalty is to abolish it, whether in the US or in Thailand or elsewhere.

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