Texas Monthly will present a panel discussion at SMU on November 6th at 7pm, featuring Michael Hall, Dallas County DA Craig Watkins, and James Waller—one of the exonerated profiled in the current issue. (RSVP by November 4th.)
From the article "The Exonerated"
These 37 men spent 525 years in prison for crimes they didn’t commit. Then came the hard part: freedom.
by Michael Hall
The first thing you notice is the eyes—they all have the same look in them, the look of men accustomed to waking up every morning in a prison cell. These 37 men spent years, and in some cases decades, staring through bars at a world that believed they were guilty of terrible crimes. But they weren’t. Each was convicted of doing something he did not do. It’s hard to characterize the look in their eyes. There’s anger, obviously, and pride at having survived hell, but there’s also hurt, and a question: “Why me?”
The short answer is simple: People make mistakes. Most of these cases share a common story line: A woman, usually a traumatized rape victim, wrongly identifies her attacker. Sometimes her testimony is backed by rudimentary serology tests. Sometimes the cases are pushed too hard by aggressive police officers or prosecutors. Sometimes the accused already has a criminal...