Jennifer Thompson, founder of Healing Justice and co-author of Picking Cotton, is urging Alabama legislators to oppose a bill that would give wrongfully convicted people on death row less time to prove their innocence.
Senate Bill 187 would speed up the administration of the death penalty, allowing innocent people on the state’s death row less time to file for post-conviction relief.
Thompson points out that, if SB 187 was law, Anthony Ray Hinton would have been unable to prove his innocence of the 1985 murder for which he was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death.
“Mr. Hinton’s is not an isolated case,” Thompson continued. “In Alabama and elsewhere across the country, DNA and other evidence have proven that innocent people have been sent to death row. In each of those cases, an innocent person and their family woke up each day facing the prospect of execution. In each of those cases, victims and survivors woke up every day believing that the perpetrator would face justice. In each of those cases, the actual perpetrator woke up every day with knowledge that an innocent person was paying for their crime.”
Thompson was the victim of a rape for which Ronald Cotton was wrongfully convicted. Cotton served over a decade in prison before DNA testing excluded him as the perpetrator and matched to a serial rapist. Thompson and Cotton have since partnered together to raise awareness about eyewitness misidentification and wrongful convictions.
Read the full op-ed here.