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Join The Discussion: What do you think of this report on how the criminal justice system  has kept inmates imprisoned despite DNA evidence that exonerates them?

Dear FRONTLINE,

Im not sure it matters. If DNA evidence isn't convincing enough to convict people i.e. O.J. Simpson, then why should it be any more convincing when used to exonerate them?

Carl McClellan
Atlanta, GA

Dear FRONTLINE,

:

Thank you for your inexhaustable courage to report the truth. The public is privilaged to
have your powerful research conveyed to us in the manner it was. These cases were an outrage, but
with your help and God's almighty power, justice was finally served.


Sheila Brown
Rahway, New Jersey

Dear FRONTLINE,

I am appalled by the way the criminal justice system ignores new DNA evidence and denies new trials to the possibly innocent who have been convicted on circumstantial evidence or shaky eyewitness testimony. Or the confession of an obviously mentally handicapped person.

I support the death penalty, but I certainly want to be sure the person is guilty before execution is carried out. I believe everyone in prison who believes DNA testing can prove their innocence should have access to free DNA testing, and a new trial in cases where the DNA supports their claim of innocence.

I don't care how bad this makes the courts, prosecutors, and judges look.


I would really appreciate a link at your site which would allow the public to express their opinions on this issue directly to our elected officials and appointed judiciary.

Thank you and keep up the good work!

S Esterb6y
Healdsburg, CA

Dear FRONTLINE,

This is MALPRACTICE. The perversion within our judicial system is clear and present. The judicial system has become a power unto itself and seems to answer only to massive publicity. What our system needs is a third party oversite body the Press?, that is of-the-people, and has the teeth to render discipline upon the system and it's members. Good Job PBS!

Where do we go from here to make the change we all want?

Gary Schwarz
Newbury Park, CA

Dear FRONTLINE,

It seems to me that many people overlook the obvious when they get outraged by reports such as these. Don't get me wrong, these cases, and who knows how many more, are an outrage to a civilized society, but in an adversarial system of justice, the DA is there to convict the accused, and the defense is there to make sure it's done by the rules. The truth, which should be paramount, is often overlooked. Since the DA's job is to put the accused behind bars, the only way to sleep at night is to believe in the guilt of the accused. These people aren't just saving face, they're dealing with their consciences.

James Walker
Columbus, Ohio

Dear FRONTLINE,

Stories like this make me wonder if my pride in having served in the military to defend our country and our rights is ill-placed. Many times in my youth, I thought I might like to be an attorney, but I have become so disenchanted with our legal system by new of events like this, that I am now certain I would be angered enough by the decisions of the "system" to resort to violence.

It seems that the MOST important thing to these judges is to make sure a decision stands, if for nothing else than to save face. Thank you, Frontline, for your excellent journalism. Keep up the good work.

David McClave
Spokane, WA

Dear FRONTLINE,

Tonight is the second time I have seen this broadcast and I am as appalled as I was the first time when I consider how the crminal justice system has been perverted to protect the interests of prosecutors, judges, and the courts.

The system has degenerated to a state comparable to that of a totalitarian country, not the United States of America. The only difference is that people such as Barry Schenck is still allowed to pursue justice. Further, when one considers the role played by the Republican party in passing laws that prevent justice being done, and when the US Supreme Court declines to protect the rights of the individual, I realize to depths to which this system has sunk.

Emil Schafer
Riverside, CA 92509

Dear FRONTLINE,

Ok! I'm convinced that I've got to get really really rich; so that I can formulate and promote initiatives before the voters of each state - that hold the criminal justice system "ACOUNTABLE" for their actions and in-actions.

Because only the wealthy can afford such luxuries.

As a viewer of your program on FRONTLINE this evening I asked myself continually throughout... "But what can we do about this situation?" "Who can I say 'fix this' to and have something be done about it?" I get very frustrated, sitting on my couch, tears streaming down my face; thinking, "My God! What can I do?"
We have these people in power that get corrupted within a system that our founding fathers never intended. Innocent people are being railroaded into an institution they don't deserve. And, then when they are found to indeed be inocent, years later, all the state can say is, "Oops, my bad!" and not be held accountable for missing tenure???
This is not right or moral!

If Washington, Jefferson, or Franklin could come to the year 2000, they would be ashamed at the conduct of some of our current leaders. Men who have been given a solemn position of trust and not having the courage to stand up for truth.

Who do they think they are kidding?

FRONTLINE... I say this to you... as my wealth increases, you will be a direct beneficiary from it because you continue to represent the truth. Thank you for being an extraordinary example of the finest journalism.

B. Be
Lakewood, Colorado

Dear FRONTLINE,

I was just ready to turn off the TV when my interest was caught by a program just before your "Criminal Justice System" program..and then found myself "glued" to the TV.
Thank you for this sort of programming. I sat and watched and kept thinking how badly the system seems to have gone wrong. Is the woman judge, district attorneys and Governor so "mixed-up" that they can't see "right from wrong."
Thank God for the defence attorneys and the families.
Your producers,directors and others that worked on the program shuold be highly praised for their work. Thanks.

Brian Beaton
Tamarac, Florida

Dear FRONTLINE,

I think the show was great. More stories showing the inherent flaws of our system, especially when they result in brutal miscarriages of justice, should be broadcast. Even a powerful democracy is subject to the personal egos and ambitions of those entrusted with the honorabe task of carrying out justice.

robert beitler
York Springs, PA

Dear FRONTLINE,

The program "The Case for Innocence" was a great show. With more programs like it maybe we can remove some of those morons in power. It makes you wonder how seemingly brain dead people can reach the highest posts in our criminal justice system. keep up the good work.

bret lukens
n. canton, ohio

Dear FRONTLINE,

As a criminal defense attorney who works in the criminal system on a daily basis, I am not shocked by the lack of cooperation by prosecutors who have been been presented with concrete DNA evidence as presented on your show. In my experience, prosecutors and law enforcement personnel believe they have a right to decide that a person is guilty and they do not care to be proven wrong.

Sadly, our system is set up so that prosecutors and those in law enforcement are promoted and praised for the number of successful convictions they obtain. Your telecast shows that many of them do not care if those convicted are actually guilty. As long as they got their conviction the means justifies the end in their minds.

If DNA tests are requested by a defendant who is asserting their innocence, then the courts must permit the tests to be done. How else can we ever know the truth??? The truth is much more important than the egos and reputations of all those involved in the prosecution of these cases.

Thank you for caring enough to produce this report.

Donna Nassor
Selinsgrove, PA

Dear FRONTLINE,

Our system of justice is the best we have in the world. Frontline showed a very narrow viewpoint,sure mistakes can be made but to punish the victims again should be made a very difficult thing to do. The convicted had there day in court,to overturn there conviction on what could be tampered with evidence is a serious reason to take a step back

With the case of Mr Washington I think the reason he wasn't pardoned is the fact he broke in an old womans house and hit her with a chair. I dont think the governor wanted a dangerous halfwit a fact you seem to take lightlyto go free .

TED MOELLER

Dear FRONTLINE,

Is the sophistry, stubborness, and legalistic backing-and-filling of the judicial entities
profiled in the report just awful? It sure is.
Good job!
When do you think you might do a report on how Mr. Scheck and his colleagues at the criminal bar repeatedly claim that DNA evidence is unreliable when it speaks to the guilt, rather than the innocence, of their clients? Never?

That's what I thought.

The nit-picking, hair-splitting and petti-
fogging that is decried so loudly -and rightly so - when it is indulged in by prosecutorial
bodies is pointed to as evidence of cleverness and perseverance when employed by defense attorneys for their own benefit.

And then lawyers - of every stripe - wonder why the public opinion of them is so low.


C.J. Benham
Medford, MA

Dear FRONTLINE,

After seeing this program, then reading over the interviews online, I have to admit that I was completely appalled by the outcome!! First and foremost, the DNA was tested 3 times, to include by the prosecution and each time it, and even he admits the tests turned out negative.

Second, the timing of their interesting "theories" ex: the condom theoryexplaining what might have really happened are all questionable. Finally, although the prosecution might have been right about one of these theories, what they need to do is to try and prove it in a new trial.
Now, I'm not saying that Roy Criner is or isn't innocent. What I am saying is that the DNA evidence is more than enough to have a new trial and there is no reason in the world why Mr. Criner shouldn't have another chance to prove his innocence except for the fact that that prosecution were too arrogant and/or cowardly to admit that they just might be wrong about him because they don't want to lose face. As far as the six judges who denied the new trial, particularly Keller, although I can understand their doubt, their reasoning for this decision makes no sense at all.
What bothers me about cases like this, and some cases where DNA evidence isn't even allowed in the trial, is that they prove to me that people, victims and accused, are not getting a fair trial, like they're supposed to because these trials are not about truth anymore but about which side has the best strategy to win.

Brian Harris
Ocean Springs, Mississippi

Dear FRONTLINE,

I sincerely hope that PBS rebroadcasts this episode, more people need to see what really goes on in the court systems today. Just like the program stated, the 'lack of accountability' and the fact that even when the innocent individual is set free from prison after proving their case, no thought by the respective judges, police departments or district attorneys is given to finding the real perpetrator of the crime is equally disturbing.

From the Texas state webpage I have found the address of the court where the Criner appeals case was heard and denied-

Court of Criminal Appeals
P.O. Box 12308
Capitol Station
Austin, Texas 78711

Sharon Keller is the name of the judge who repulsed me the most, and some of you I see, as well.

E. Aloisi
Albany, NY

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