A new statistical study finds one in 25 death row inmates may actually be innocent – lending support to those who oppose the death penalty.
The report says DNA evidence and appeals have led to hundreds of exonerations in recent decades, and asks how many inmates are being wrongly executed?
South Texas College of Law's Kenneth Williams has written a book on the subject.
“The state of Texas, many people believe has executed at least two inmates who were innocent, and there have been a number exonerations over the years, so I don't think a lot of people ought to be surprised,” Williams tells KTRH News.
Death penalty supporter Dudley Sharp disagrees, arguing there's been no solid proof anyone put death was actually innocent.
“Its curious that anyone would say we might execute an innocent person, because we don't have any cases to prove that we have, but we might,” says Sharp. “So, since we might, we should get rid of the death penalty.”
Sandra Guerra Thompson, director of the Criminal Justice Institute at the University of Houston, sides with Williams' assessment.
“There's a Texas case of a fellow named Carlos DeLuna, and the Columbia Law Review did a massive study showing how that was a wrongful exeuction,” she says. “Then we Cameron Todd Willingham case in Texas.”
Still, the study found less than 2% of death row inmates were actually exonerated between 1973 and 2004.
“We need to make sure when we see studies like this, that we critique them so people can make correct judgement as to how we're conducting public policy,” says Sharp. “This study isn't it.”