Saturday, February 10, 2007

The Santa Barbara Innocence Project

A group of people is interested in finding out how many innocent people have been convicted in Santa Barbara County. The Santa Barbara Sheriff's department is currently covering up perjury by two employees in San Diego Superior court. Did these two employees also commit perjury in court in Santa Barbara?

DNA evidence has resulted in the release of many wrongly-convicted people in recent years, but the Innocence Project is now working on cases with no DNA evidence.

One big target of the Innocence Project is unreliable witnesses, including jail-house informants who lie at the request of police and prosecutors in order to get leniency in their own cases.

Yesterday "marked the end of another long, grinding slog through the criminal justice system to exonerate the wrongfully convicted."* Timothy Atkins was released in Los Angeles after two decades of unjust incarceration. He was convicted on the word of two perjurers--a woman who invented a story about hearing him confess, and a jail-house informant who gained his freedom as a result. The third witness was a victim who got a one-second look at the perpetrator.

The first woman recanted years ago, but prosecutors are slow to admit when they make a mistake.
The jail-house informant tried to recant at trial, but prosecutors ironically argued that he was lying when he tried to recant.
The victim-witness made a cross racial identification, which is notoriously unreliable.

Who is against the Innocence Project? Last year Arnold Schwarzeneggar vetoed two bills that would have drawn up new guidelines for law enforcement regarding witness testimony.

Arnold isn't thinking. We are in danger when perpetrators walk the streets while innocent people are locked up. We are vulnerable not only to being victimized by the perpetrators, but to becoming victims of false charges backed up by perjury and unreliable testimony.

*"Wrongly convicted man walks free after 2 decades" by Greg Moran, San Diego Union Tribune, Feb. 10, 2007

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