In Louisiana, Kenneth Reed sits in prison convicted of rape. He continues to claim his innocence and file appeals. A simple DNA test could confirm his guilt or throw his 1991 conviction into doubt. The prosecutor is blocking that testing as hard as he can even though though the state of Louisiana is one of forty-six states to give that right to inmates.
For the past three years, an Illinois state attorney has been obstructing DNA testing for Johnnie Lee Savory (right), convicted of a double homicide in 1977 when he was 14 years old, insisting that the jury didn't need DNA to convict. A ridiculous statement considering the fact that there have been 175 exonerations by DNA.
State after state, the story continues--prosecutors balking at the tests that could actually confirm the guilt of the inmate or point to possible innocence. Certainly, all claims of innocence are not valid just as DNA testing is not always the whole answer to every case. But even if it doesn't tell the whole story, it is a vital piece of the puzzle.
Watkins took office in January 2007 inheriting a staff that possessed a win-at-any-costs mentality embedded in the office culture by legendary Dallas County prosecutor Henry Wade. Wade actually bragged about obtaining convictions on innocent people--he said it proved his tremendous skill as a prosecutor.
There are those out there who are not moved by the thought of an innocent person in jail. They tend to think that those people probably committed another crime and just got away with it--so what difference does it make to keep them behind bars. This cynical attitude overlooks one very important problem--a complication that leaves all of us less safe, by exposing us to the predation of more rapists, killers and molesters.