Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Can a Wrongful Conviction Ever Be Forgiven?

Every story of a wrongful conviction is a story of lingering bitterness and lasting feuds. Consider Anthony Graves, who is filing a complaint with the State Bar against prosecutor Charles Sebesta, who has never admitted to the mistakes that led to Graves’s sitting on death row for twelve years. The San Antonio Four, sent to prison for more than a decade for a bizarre sexual assault that never happened, have had no contact with the prosecutors, police, or doctor involved in their convictions.  And even when former district attorney Ken Anderson publicly apologized for “the system’s failure” that sent Michael Morton to prison for nearly 25 years for a murder he didn’t commit, Anderson still defended his prosecution of Morton. 

Do these stories ever end with reconciliation? Is it even possible to forgive such an egregious error? Perhaps it really is a matter of time healing all wounds. Nearly thirty years after wrongfully convicting Timothy Cole, the City of Lubbock is accepting its involvement in this tragedy. The city is unveiling a ten-foot-tall statue of Cole, who was convicted of rape in 1986, died in prison in 1999, and was proven innocent by DNA evidence in 2009. It’s the most direct instance yet of an institution—in this case the City of Lubbock—publicly commemorating its own failures in sending an innocent person to prison. “It really is about reconciliation, and hope,” Cole’s brother Cory Session explained.

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