Please close your eyes for a moment and imagine that you have been sentenced to and are serving time in prison for a crime when you were factually innocent of it! Last November 8 my interview of Justin Brooks, Esq. was on my podcast “All Rise! The Libertarian Way with Judge Jim Gray.” He is the Director of the Innocence Project in San Diego, and he made a comment on the air that I simply cannot get out of my mind. He said that in his 20 years working in this area that he himself has walked 29 people out of prison who were shown to be factually innocent! In my opinion, if we even have one person in prison in our country who is factually innocent that is an atrocity! But 29 just in the experience of one (dedicated) man! This cannot be tolerated!

So what should be done? As a reader of this blog you know my opinions about increasing the size of government. But wouldn’t it be a good use of public tax money to fund private projects that would investigate all claims of factual innocence – from whatever source? Of course let’s not be naïve, many inmates falsely claim to be innocent, thinking “Why not? What can it hurt?” But if they were later shown to have made false claims of innocence, maybe using that as a factor demonstrating a lack of remorse when their parole hearings came up could at least be some deterrence. So you ask, how can these factually innocent people be convicted in the first place? Many are victims of false eyewitness identifications. Others result from the testimony of jailhouse “snitches” who lie or stretch the truth in return for a promised reduction in their own sentences. In fact, even the threat of such testimony can cause an innocent person to plead guilty in a close case, because if they go to trial and are found guilty they could face decades in prison. But if they plead guilty they will “only” serve five years. The list can go on, but I hope you share my outrage about this situation. I can’t say there is a tidal wave of support for this remedy at this time, but maybe all of us can start one.

Taken from the “I know what you mean” department: Instead of a sign that says “Do Not Disturb” I need one that says “Already Disturbed, Please Proceed with Caution!”

Judge Jim Gray (Ret.) Superior Court of Orange County, California 2012 Libertarian Candidate for Vice President

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