We hear about it occasionally: someone is brought to court, convicted, and jailed. Sometimes for a short time, sometimes for a long time, sometimes for a lifetime — but there’s a catch.
In at least a few confirmed cases, the “criminal” turns out to be merely a person who was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and they are sentenced to pay off a debt that isn’t theirs.
Anthony Graves is the director of the Smart Justice Initiative of the ACLU. Recently he published a book of his experience on death row after being wrongly convicted.
In it he speaks about the living conditions, the quality of the food, and the prison staff who trade in illicit goods.
Hearing his story — of the wrongly convicted, of the dehumanizing living conditions — one wants to believe his story is non-standard.
After all, how many innocent people could be sitting on death row? A recent study suggested that 1 in 25 death row inmates are innocent.
With only 144 people exonerated since 1973, that means innocent people have been executed.
Larry McKee could have been one of those innocent executed. After 20 years in prison it was shared with the court that a key piece of evidence had not been taken into consideration. McKee, it ends up, did not match the description.
“Satisfied but I’m not happy at all what happened,” McKee stated. “How they knew from the beginning that they knew it wasn’t me.”
On the night in question McKee and another man got into a fight. A gun was pulled and the other man died. The dying man stated as he died that he had been killed by “a Spanish guy.”
Other witnesses said the same. The District Attorney’s office said that other witnesses have come forward with similar claims over the years.
“Several other witnesses had come forward and stated that they saw a Hispanic shooter. The people are now requesting that the conviction be vacated in the interest of justice,” reported Attorney Risa Gerson.
By all reports McKee is a bit contemplative over his new reality. “Right now I have no feeling. What am I going to do now? Take a walk. Be alone.”
“It still ain’t hit me. I’ve been in there. I had to block a lot of stuff out I had to stop thinking about out here,” he said as well.
If McKee is among the wrongly convicted, how many others are there? As we think in terms of safe communities, let’s always make sure we are erring on the side of justice.
If we witness a crime, let us make sure we give accurate testimony so no one has to go through what McKee went through.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.