DNA Tests Disprove Key Evidence in Texas Execution Case
New DNA tests show that Claude Jones was executed a decade ago in Texas based on false physical evidence that officials declined to test before his execution.
Jones always maintained his innocence of the murder for which he was executed, and the new test results prove that a hair allegedly tying him to the crime scene was not his. Before his execution, Jones requested a 30-day stay from then-Governor George W. Bush so he could seek DNA testing on the hair. A memo from the Texas General Counsel's office recommended against the stay and failed to mention that Jones was seeking DNA tests. Bush denied the motion, and Jones was executed on December 7, 2000.
In a Wall Street Journal op-ed on Saturday, Innocence Project Co-Director Barry Scheck wrote that Jones’ execution "never should have happened" and goes on to say that the injustice Jones suffered highlights the need for a national criminal justice commission to examine and address issues including the death penalty and the underlying causes of wrongful conviction.
Join thousands of Innocence Project supporters across the country in calling on Senate leaders to prioritize and pass this legislation before Congress adjourns in December.
New Video: "Conviction" and Innocence
"I always thought that everyone in prison was guilty," Betty Anne Waters says in a new Innocence Project web video. "Not anymore."
As regular readers know, Betty Anne Waters’ two-decade fight to overturn her brother’s wrongful conviction is the subject of the film, "Conviction," which stars Hilary Swank and Sam Rockwell and is playing in theaters around the world this week. The film tells the powerful story of a family’s commitment to overcome the spiraling injustice of wrongful conviction.
Watch the new three-minute video to learn the true story behind “Conviction” in the words of Betty Anne Waters, Kenny Waters and Innocence Project Co-Director Barry Scheck. And visit our website to dig deeper into family photos and case documents and to share your thoughts on the film and the case with Betty Anne Waters herself.
Visit our "Conviction" site here.
Feds Overturn Bush-Era DNA Waivers
Ruling could expand access to DNA testing
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder this month overturned a controversial federal policy originated under President George W. Bush that required federal defendants to waive their right to DNA testing in order to plead guilty.
Holder ordered a review of the policy last year after an investigation by the Washington Post and wrote in a memo released Nov. 18 that the policy was "too rigid to accommodate the facts presented by individual cases.
Nineteen of the 261 people exonerated nationwide through DNA testing pled guilty to crimes they didn't commit, and Innocence Project Co-Director Peter Neufeld applauded Holder's reversal of the policy.
"It never made any sense to force people, as a condition of a plea, to give up their right to future DNA testing, particularly since we know that factually innocent people plead guilty,'' Neufeld told the Washington Post.
Read more about the reversal and the 19 exonerees who pled guilty to crimes they didn’t commit.
Why I Give: A Donor Profile
As a child, I came to the United States with my family to enjoy a life of freedom and opportunity not available to us in our native Cuba. The life that I have been able to enjoy far exceeded my parents' most optimistic expectations and with it comes a responsibility to get involved.
Being a strong believer that education is the key to personal success, I also feel that education creates awareness of our personal and social responsibilities to the world around us. The work of the Innocence Project has educated us to the fact that innocent people are sent to prison -- and even to death row. This has to be stopped. As a society, we must respect our laws and recognize that there are consequences for those that do not. We also have the responsibility, however, to ensure that the people we accuse and convict of crimes are treated fairly. This is a system with human flaws, subject to personal prejudices and errors in judgment, and it's up to us to remedy these injustices.
By supporting the Innocence Project, we define our society's moral fabric through our personal and collective actions. Injustice of any kind should demand an outcry by those that value the American principles of freedom, equality, justice and humanity. The Innocence Project is an outlet for us to demonstrate those values.
I have committed to make an annual contribution to the Innocence Project as a birthday present to myself and encourage you too to get involved and make a difference. Please join me by making an online donation today.