Monday, August 10, 2009

Justice Delayed...But Justice Nonetheless

This disappointing saga continues.

Another man languishes in prison for the better part of his life for a crime he didn't commit.

“I feel good. I'm glad I'm home, with family,” Ernest Sonnier said, his eyes wide at his reception amid the crowd and surrounded by reporters.

“It's been hard for me,” the 46-year-old said of his years in prison. “There's no way I can make it up. It's lost.”

He pointed out his nieces and nephews in the crowd. “When I left, they were little girls and boys. Now they're grown", he said. He had been convicted of aggravated kidnapping in the rape of a woman from Alief, Texas. Sonnier hasn't been exonerated yet. He has been released from prison on personal recognizance pending further investigation, but DNA evidence has cast enough doubt that his sentence will almost certainly be overturned.

"Sonnier is the sixth Harris County man to be freed by new DNA testing and revelations of faulty work and testimony by the HPD crime lab."

"DNA testing over the past 18 months implicated two convicted felons as the actual perpetrators of the 1985 crime, [Alba] Morales said. The Innocence Project conducted nine rounds of DNA testing since March 2008."

"“Faulty forensics by the Houston Police Department criminal laboratory, as well as a bad eyewitness ID — a wrongful, mistaken eyewitness identification — put him away. Twenty-three years are gone,” Morales said." Anyone else need an example of why the African-American community sometimes views law enforcement with suspicion? Things are much better, but we're not quite there yet! There's another reason to get this right, "Locking up the wrong people does not leave room to lock up the right people, those who are truly dangerous."

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