100th death row exoneration speaks to need for changes in system
Washington, DC (April 9, 2002) -- In response to the 100th exoneration yesterday of a death row inmate since reinstatement of the death penalty, Irwin Schwartz, president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, issued the following statement:
"For former death-row inmate Ray Krone, this is a day of celebration and thanksgiving. For the nation it is a day of shame for our criminal justice system. Krone was not released on a ''technicality;'' he is an innocent man, who was condemned to death and spent more than 10 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Krone is the 100th person to be proven innocent after a jury or judge sentenced him to die. And for every innocent person sent to death row, there was a real criminal who was not identified.
"The 100 exonerations, mostly by DNA evidence, are the tip of the iceberg. How many more people remain in U.S. prisons for crimes they did not commit? How many others have been executed who were innocent? America needs to do two things:
"First, we must recognize that the death penalty, and the manner in which it is imposed, is horribly flawed. It must be ended, or at the very least a moratorium must be imposed, as in Illinois. Second, Congress must quickly pass the Innocence Protection Act.
That law, when enacted, will allow prisoners access to the tools they need that may prove their innocence.
"We congratulate Mr. Krone's lawyer, Alan Simpson, and other NACDL members who are working to find justice on a case-by-case basis."
Irwin Schwartz is a criminal defense lawyer in Seattle. He can be reached at (206) 623-5084.
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The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal justice system.