Innocence Project: Overhaul Death Penalty Laws

HOUSTON (AP) – A leading anti-death penalty lawyer says the execution of a Texas man whose plea for DNA testing was ignored shows procedures and laws covering capital punishment need to be changed.

Innocence Project co-founder Barry Scheck said Friday in Houston that the execution of convicted murderer Claude Jones 10 years ago took place only because then-Governor George W. Bush wasn’t aware Jones’ lawyer had asked for DNA testing on a piece of hair used to convict him.

Bush’s office has declined to comment on the case.

The hair was the only piece of physical evidence tying Jones to the 1989 killing. Recent tests have shown it wasn’t Jones’ hair.

Scheck acknowledges that the hair doesn’t prove Jones was innocent. But he says the findings mean the evidence was insufficient under Texas law to convict Jones.

(© Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • Hemroidious

    Hey, were all going to die, so we miss a few. Nobody’s perfect.

    • Tom

      Not funny!

  • Hemroidious

    Let’s give Scheck the death penalty and see what he say’s then.

  • Tom

    Lets not be so quick to throw the baby out with the bath water! There is no evidence that this man was not guilty of the offense. I believe that the death penalty still serves as a deterant and has it’s place in our legal framework. Now, having said that, I would not oppose a natural life, or life without parole option in death penalty cases. The problem now is that a life sentence is actually a 60 year sentence with parol eligibility after 20 years (or 30 years if a deadly weapon was involved) and our judges and prosecutors are not allowed to explain this to juries before they affix punishment.
    But, again, what we really need to understand is that those who are released after finding “new evidence” or fault with their trials, may not be innocent, the findings have just placed their guilt in question! The man on whom this article is based has not suddenly been found innocent. This has just raised some doubt as to his guilt. Do I feel badly that a man whose guilt is now in doubt was executed? Sure I do, if he was actually innocent, but we’ll never know that with any degree of certainty.

  • Hemroidious

    Yes, Tom, You are correct, so let’s execute them first and if we find later that they were innocent we can over turn the conviction then. They will have a clean record.

    • Hemroidious

      See there is always a solution if you just look for it.

  • RevJL

    If they want to address a death row problem …….. how about this one ?

    Why does a person sit on death row for 20 years ?

    A death sentence should be carried out within 2 months …….. period !

  • Rick McDaniel

    My own view, is that citizens are paying too much to keep criminals in prison. In my view, there should be limits on prison sentences, and capital punishment for more crimes, with specific time limits on the appeals process, so that the cost to taxpayers, is brought under control.

    There should be a 3 strikes and you are out, limitation on incarceration, as well.

    Citizens should recognize that it costs us, a minimum of $26K, per criminal, per year, to incarcerate. If you sentence someone to life, who is 20 yrs. old, and they live to just 50, then it costs us, the taxpayer, nearly half a million dollars. That’s just for ONE inmate!

    When you consider, the sheer number of criminals in prison, who are serving long or life sentences, and the cost of keeping them there, you really have to take the practical approach, and say we need to stop the stupidity, and quit spending billions annually to do that. capital punishment is the only practical solution, as turning these people loose on society again, is simply stupid.

  • Hemroidious

    All in all, I like the colors that they chose for the death chamber. Rather comforting, I think. I would have chosen a more pucsh color though.

    • Tom


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