Via: Innocence Blog
Posted: November 7, 2012 3:35 pm
For some political pessimists, voting may seem like thankless labor. For me, regaining my civil right to vote after over 18 years in prison as an innocent man fills me with gratitude. I was wrongfully convicted by the State of New York in 1992 and exonerated in 2009. This month marks my third year of freedom.
I felt the power of democracy when, after casting the first ballot of my life, my youngest child asked me, “Daddy, when may we vote?” I hope, by doing my civic duty, to leave her with a better criminal justice system than the one I experienced. Our family knows all too well the harm that factually innocent people suffer in prison. I advocate for criminal justice reform in New York State because I believe that public policy can help prevent wrongful convictions. Extra awareness of this public safety and human rights issue can influence votes and encourage politicians that criminal justice reform is important to their constituents. Preventing wrongful convictions, I think, cuts well across political and party lines.
I am already eager to hit the polls again.
Read the original blog post at www.innocenceproject.org
The Innocence Project was founded in 1992 by Barry C. Scheck and Peter J. Neufeld at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University to assist prisoners who could be proven innocent through DNA testing. To date, 297 people in the United States have been exonerated by DNA testing, including 17 who served time on death row. These people served an average of 13 years in prison before exoneration and release.
The Innocence Project’s full-time staff attorneys and Cardozo clinic students provide direct representation or critical assistance in most of these cases. The Innocence Project’s groundbreaking use of DNA technology to free innocent people has provided irrefutable proof that wrongful convictions are not isolated or rare events but instead arise from systemic defects. Now an independent nonprofit organization closely affiliated with Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University, the Innocence Project’s mission is nothing less than to free the staggering numbers of innocent people who remain incarcerated and to bring substantive reform to the system responsible for their unjust imprisonment.