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Learning from Injustice
Posted: January 4, 2010 4:11 pm
A recent editorial in the Washington Post examines two high-profile exonerations and asserts that Donald Gates and James Bain aren't alone. Gates served 27 years in prison for a 1981 murder in Washington, D.C., that DNA now proves he didn't commit. James Bain served 35 years in Florida prisons, more than any other exoneree in American history, before DNA set him free on December 17.
"As appalling as the two cases are, what's even scarier is the thought that imperfections in the criminal justice system will go uncorrected and more people could be wrongly jailed,," the Washington Post editorial says.
This is why the Innocence Project works to address the root causes of wrongful convictions. For every person freed through DNA testing, countless others remain behind bars without the evidence needed to prove their innocence.
Donald Gates was convicted in 1981 based on improper forensic testimony, and in 2010 we still haven't addressed the lack of consistent forensic standards and oversight in this country. Learn more about the need for federal forensic reform and take action today at the Just Science Coalition website.
Tags: James Bain, Donald Gates
Learning to Be Free
Posted: January 12, 2010 5:50 pm
Donald Gates was freed from a federal prison on December 15 after serving 28 years in prison for a murder and rape DNA proves he didn’t commit. He was convicted based on faulty forensic evidence and the false testimony of a paid informant. The Washington Post reported this weekend on his first few weeks of freedom and the road ahead as he adjusts to his new life.
Now, Gates says, comes the hard part. He hasn't really had the time to be too happy about his release or bitter about his incarceration. His energy is too focused on the struggle to get back on his feet with no money, no job and a family he doesn't know very well anymore.For Gates, everything is smaller and more compact. Large computers and rotary phones have been replaced with handheld, push-button devices. Boxy Cadillacs and Buicks have been replaced with SUVs and compact cars. And those bulky, heavy television sets that were the biggest pieces of furniture in a room have morphed into sleeker models mounted on a wall.Gates was convicted based in part on testimony from FBI forensic analyst Michael P. Malone, who said that a hair from the crime scene matched Gates’ hair. A 1997 Justice Department investigation found, however, that Malone and 13 other analysts made false reports and conducted faulty tests.
"Things are very different now, and I have to get used to it. It's strange. But if feels so good. Man, it feels very good." With that, Gates fell against the back of his chair and let out a laugh that seemed to come from his toes.
Read the full story here. (Washington Post, 01/09/10)
Faulty hair analysis and other unvalidated forensic evidence have played a role in half of the wrongful convictions overturned to date through DNA testing. Take action to support federal forensic reform at the Just Science Coalition website.
Tags: Donald Gates
Innocence Network's Champion of Justice Helps Prevent Wrongful Convictions
Posted: May 6, 2010 2:30 am
Last month, Trainum was awarded the Innocence Network’s Champion of Justice Award for his efforts to combat wrongful convictions. The Innocence Network is an affiliation of organizations dedicated to providing pro bono legal and investigative services to individuals seeking to prove their innocence of crimes for which they have been convicted and working to redress the causes of wrongful convictions.
He has also helped with physical evidence searches, something that paid off this year when Donald Gates was exonerated after 28 years in prison for the 1981 rape and murder of a Georgetown student. Trainum helped find the evidence.
When asked about Donald Gates, Trainum said he can’t help but think about all of the other people sitting behind bars for crimes they did not commit. Although he said the system is starting to turn around, Trainum believes there are a lot more wrongful convictions than anyone is aware of.
For more information about the Network, click here.
Read about Donald Gates’ case here.
Tags: Donald Gates
Weekly Roundup: Honoring the Exonerated and Reviewing the Justice System
Posted: January 30, 2012 10:30 am
Tags: North Carolina, Donald Gates, Darryl Hunt
Washington Post Investigates Reliability of Forensic Sciences
Posted: April 17, 2012 4:30 pm
Tags: District of Columbia, Donald Gates