the case for innocence
homefour casesspeaking outsystem failurethe dna revolutionvideo
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,

I found your program to be of excellent quality. It substantiated suspicions that I have always harbored regarding our supposed "justice" system...

The lack of accountablilty is unconscionable. Those judges, attorney generals and prosecutors who defend these acts of moral cowardice are
absolutley evil. It is as simple as that. The one who really takes the cake is Judge Sharon Keller. She was so brazen in her lack of compassion for the wrongly accused as well as the truth itself. She applied a double standard analysis of the very same evidence that was used to convict and then exclude. What a travesty.

You did great work on the program. Please do more like this.

Kevin Bayhouse
Boise, Idaho

Dear FRONTLINE,

Thank you for the excellent program on DNA. It is shocking to think we have a system that considers anyone guilty until proven innocent. This is the polar opposite of what I believe American justice represents. This is also a disservice to the families of the victims and the future victims because murderers are running free. No search is being made for those whose DNA was found with the victims. All we have is an unfortunate scapegoat.

Diane Keith

Dear FRONTLINE,

After watching the program last night I am sickened at the knowledge that not only are too many innocent people in prison and proof of their innocence seems to mean nothing, but at the unbelievably cavalier attitude of many of the prosecutors and appellate court justices who dismiss this proof as unsubstantiated.

It struck me that in many of these situations the prosecutors rebut, after DNA, by saying that probably another perpetrator was involved, with absolutely nothing other than their assertion...yet the attorneys submitting the proof are not allowed their probable, if not irrefutable, evidence of innocence to be considered.

The system, without question, is broken. The governors who refuse to pardon in the face of this evidence are supposedly worried about the Willie Horton effect - I, for one, could never vote for a politician who knowingly allowed an unquestionably innocent person to remain in prison!

Furthermore, since the persons serving time for these crimes are not the ones guilty, what are the real guilty persons up to? Somehow, it doesn't seem to concern our legal system overmuch that the real criminals are probably out among us raping and killing again. The question is, what can we, as ordinary citizens, do about this apparently widespread and totally unacceptable practice?

Judyjudith Parker
Dunwoody, Ga.

Dear FRONTLINE,

I worked for Ohio DR&C for eight years and I saw many innocent inmates incarcerated do to the injustices in our criminal justice system. All too often a case is made on circumstantial evidence and without good legal counsel most are pro bono cases these men/women are sentenced for the political rewards to the prosecutors and judges.

Justice has become an obsolete word in our system and we tax payers are the ones being forced to pay for the high cost of unjust incarcerations. Many high profile cases are allowed to be tried within the area of the alleged crime so that the polititians can get their "press." Change of venue in many cases would free those who are innocent...

Jenny Perry
Trenton, Ohio

Dear FRONTLINE,

Your show should be shown to every person who is called to serve on a jury... The criminal justice system will not fix itself and is not held accountable. The only hope lies within a jury that will question the evidence or lack of evidence during a trial. If the men featured on your show had the money O.J. Simpson had, they would all be free...

Penny Spugnardi
Emmaus, PA

Dear FRONTLINE,

I was furious to hear the legal representatives utter such provincial indifference to the plight of potentially innocent individuals. If I could have grabbed McDougal through the T.V. I would have wrung his neck. I understand that the process of politicization in states, organizations, businesses, etc., requires saving face in fear of public outcry. But come on, innocent lives are at stake.

Where does the law end and morality begin? The nuances of our justice system recognize and allow for gray areas in the law to some degree... If evidence such as DNA comes to light with hopes to exonerate a person of a crime, then I subscribe to the notion of protecting the "unalienable Rights...to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness" of every individual, rich or poor.

David Therkelsen
Fort Wayne, IN

Dear FRONTLINE,

My husband and I watched in horror and utter disbelief, your program "The Case for Innocence" last night. We both work for the government in the justice arena. I want to know who can I write to; who can I complain to; who will address these atrocities?

We need to start holding these political appointees responsibile for their actions and non-actions. This type of situation could happen to any person in America, and if anyone thinks they are excluded, then you'd best think again. All it takes is being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Our justice system is severely failing us, and if we don't take some sort of action against this, we may very well find ourselves, a relative, or a friend in prison wrongly convicted. Please provide information on the resources that you have that your audience can seek out and contact. America needs to wake up to these ugly secrets that so conveniently get swept under the table.

valorie eppard
fredericksburg, va

Dear FRONTLINE,

Thank you for directing the public's attention to the corruption and callousness of the criminal justice system in this country. It's alarming enough that more than 750,000 people are currently in prison for committing a "consensual crime", which is a clear sign to me of a warped system...

It outrages and saddens me at the same time, to think that many individuals in prison are innocent, and that they are paying for someone else's crime...when the person has shown proof of his or her innocence...

Lisa Trainor
Lake Elsinore, CA

Dear FRONTLINE,

I saw the Frontline program tonight and my blood was boiling throughout! Especially, I would love to give District Attorney Michael McDougal my opinion about him. In this Frontline at least, I can exclaim emphatically, what a corrupt man...

Punishing the innocent is every bit as bad as not punishing the criminals! These corrupt prosecutors, judges and district attorneys can sit there pontificating with their smirky smiles all they want, but nothing can hide the fact that they are corrupt holders of public office. The fact that they are tolerated is a very sad commentary on the present state of our society.

Lenn Trainor
Los Angeles, CA

Dear FRONTLINE,

I am shocked to hear that our legal system is putting procedural process ahead of hard facts. We have technology that can prove an error occurred. It should be allowed and then used.

Our jails are over crowded as is. We do not need to house people that are proven innocent. Our system is in need of drastic improvement when the very evidence that convicted a person is now scientifically proven wrong and that cannot be enough to re-open or re-try a case.

I was also shocked to hear some of the judges proposing that all of a sudden a second person may have been present or whatever other "new" theory they could come up with as to why the DNA evidence was of a different person than the convicted individual...

This was fabricated information not in any way evidenced during the trials, according to your program. Please follow up on this subject in future programs. It is important we are made aware of this...


Fawn Newby
Wasilla, Alaska

Dear FRONTLINE,

Though I understand the need for a strong and vital court system to make our society and its laws viable, when abuses of that system harm the lives and liberty of innocent people, we all suffer. Did the founders of the Constitution really intend for the fate of the wrongfully accused but actually innocent to rest in the hands of politicians and elected officials? Why do we knowingly mix politics with justice when everyone knows politics corrupt?

As usual, an excellent program by Ofra Bikel and others at Frontline. I thank you for your tremendous work.


David Lange
Edwardsville, Illinois

Dear FRONTLINE,

Lately we [Canada] have used DNA to free at least two high profile convicts,one of these just recently in Manitoba. The crime, a murder/rape which took place in the early eighties destroyed this man's life. He was apologized to by the Manitoba provincial police and released, monetary justice is upcoming...

DNA is irrefutable proof and if this poor person is dead there is no recourse. The people of America must put revenge aside,vote out the death penalty,and allow new evidence to be introduced and followed up on.

Great program FRONTLINE, Canada still has a lot to learn but we don't kill for this reason...Our system can at least correct itself, it's obvious yours can't.

Dale Gervais
Canoe, B.C Canada

Dear FRONTLINE,

Investigative journalism is not completely dead thanks to Frontline. This particular show makes me think of ivory towers and glass houses - Judge Keller way up on high, and all the rest of us ready to throw stones when we should be examining ourselves. Although she deserves to be knocked out of the box, we as citizens are responsible for change.

I wish politicians could act responsibly and fairly on their own, but they can't and we all know that. They will do the politically advantageous thing, whatever that may be on most occasions. Results in elections and polls give them this information, along with gobs of money.

To make an informed decision, people need the type of journalism which Frontline provides. Sadly, infotainment is how most people receive the news. So make a difference - tell a friend to watch Frontline, correspond with your elected officials, vote, and boycott network infotainment.

Jace Cook
Los Angeles, California

Dear FRONTLINE,

I am devastated by the callous disregard for the truth shown by much of the justice system. The DA in the Criner case actually smiled and laughed at Criner's predicament. It sickens me that many of those who make up our justice system, along with our elected representatives, put self-serving interests ahead of truth, justice and what is best for all of us.

What have we become when we can sit idly by knowing the names, faces, and stories of innocent people jailed for life, or worse, executed? We should be showcasing such injustice on network television, magazines, newspapers, and radio on a daily and weekly basis until all who want it have the opportunity to prove their innocence by DNA testing. The death penalty should be abolished after knowing how our system promotes such injustice.

Leeann McLaughlin

Dear FRONTLINE,

I have just finished viewing and trying to rationally process this evenings broadcast regarding the utter and complete failure of our judicial system. Twice during the program I wanted to sign on and each time I told myself " I can not afford to miss even five minutes of this!"

To say that I had reason to believe that such horrifing judical rapes occurred each day, somewhere in this nation, would be understatement. I write to you with a lingering sickness when confronted with the truth that " innocent until proven guilty " has given way to political expedience and mob mentality for conviction at any cost. It can now finally be presented to the world that frail egos will sacrifice human life and freedom to avoid setting right a wrong that our system routinely inflicts upon the very citizens they have sworn to protect and serve. How any of the antagonists revealed in this program can look at thmselves in a mirror and not want to vomit at their hypocrisy is mind numbing to me.

I am an Advocate Member of my local PBS Station KCET in Los Angeles , and if this were the only program that my $500.00 paid for it would be only a fraction of the support, encouragement and heartfelt thanks due you! Please, please keep up the integrity in program creation and documentation that you serve our culture. The truth will set us free!

James Cline
Laguna Beach, CA

more

home · cases · speaking out · total system failure? · how far will it go? · video · discussion
interviews · synopsis · tapes & transcripts · press

web site copyright 1995-2014 WGBH educational foundation

SUPPORT PROVIDED BY

NEXT ON FRONTLINE

Solitary NationApril 22nd

FRONTLINE on

ShopPBS