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How did you buy your ticket? View All Photos I knew what the governor, the man who appointed me, wanted: no recommendation for clemency in any death case. Indisputable evidence that an innocent person has been executed in recent years has yet to be produced. But the close calls, as much as any actual execution, expose a myriad of potentially lethal fault lines in the administration of death sentences.
In , in the case of Furman v. Georgia , the Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty as then administered violated the Eighth Amendment's proscription against cruel and unusual punishment and the Fourteenth Amendment's equal-protection clause. Individual justices in the majority found much they didn't like about the death penalty. They said that it was disproportionately applied to the "poor and despised," that it was frequently imposed on the "constitutionally impermissible basis of race," and that it was applied in an "arbitrary and capricious" fashion.
Although one can make a compelling case that all these criticisms remain valid today, the Supreme Court has since rejected them. The Court has said, however, that it is concerned about the risk of imposing an arbitrary sentence as well as about the proven fact of one. Even Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, a vigorous death-penalty proponent, stated in a decision that a sentence would have to be struck down if it created "an unacceptable risk that 'the death penalty [had been] meted out arbitrarily or capriciously' or through 'whim JOHN Justice, the former president of the National District Attorneys Association, and like-minded supporters of capital punishment don't dispute that innocent people have been sentenced to death.
But they insist that wrongful death sentences are aberrations. Governor George Ryan, of Illinois, advanced the same argument -- "The system does work and But as details of Porter's wrongful sixteen-year incarceration emerged, the governor apparently began having second thoughts about Illinois justice.
Police officers involved in Porter's case allegedly ignored suspects identified by a relative of one victim and pressured witnesses and other suspects to testify against Porter. Porter's lawyer acknowledged that he had barely conducted any investigation, because his client's family had come up with only part of his fee. Porter, who has an IQ of 51, came within forty-eight hours of execution by lethal injection in September of last year.
He was granted a reprieve so that the state could determine whether he was mentally competent to be executed. Had his IQ been 50 points higher, he would almost certainly be dead.
Governor Ryan recently told reporters that he's "not sure the system worked" in the Porter case. And now we want to make sure that scenario doesn't Since ten innocent people have been discovered on the state's death row. Porter's was actually the second Illinois case to be demolished by Northwestern students taking an investigative-reporting class. In students helped to establish the innocence of four Chicago black men convicted in a rape and murder involving a young white couple.
Williams and Jimerson spent fifteen and eleven years respectively on death row. In an effort to prevent erroneous death sentences in the future, the Illinois legislature recently passed, and Governor Ryan signed into law, legislation to increase funding for capital defenders and to require that they meet basic standards of competency.
Not surprisingly, Williams, Anthony Porter, and many of the other inmates released from death row over the past two decades are unforgiving of the system's imperfections. Williams says the State of Illinois "attempted to murder me. That law-enforcement authorities would plot to have a man executed for a crime he didn't commit is probably the most Kafkaesque scenario imaginable for the U.
But even if former death-row inmates truly believe they were framed by police officers and prosecutors, such claims are nearly impossible to prove. In the Rolando Cruz case a special prosecutor, William Kunkle, actually indicted four policemen and three former prosecutors for falsely accusing Cruz, charging them with perjury and obstruction of justice.
But this is believed to be the only death-penalty case in U. True, courts have frequently ordered murder convictions overturned as a result of official misconduct. But a Chicago Tribune investigation published earlier this year found that since at least homicide convictions nationwide have been overturned because prosecutors concealed evidence of innocence or presented evidence they knew to be false.
Not one of those prosecutors has been convicted of a crime or barred from practicing law. Although law-enforcement officials invariably insist that miscreants in their ranks should be punished, in practice prosecutors rarely find any reason to investigate, let alone indict, their colleagues.
Under existing law, law-enforcement officials are virtually immune from civil and criminal liability. As for the bar associations, which are supposed to discipline their members, Gershman says they are far too timid to take on prosecutors.
The Justice Department contends that instances of prosecutorial misconduct represent a minute percentage of the tens of thousands of criminal cases brought each year. And there is no question that the public generally sees prosecutors as "white hats" who are working to rid our streets of certifiable bad guys like the Unabomber and Timothy McVeigh, who in a single act of terror murdered people in Oklahoma City. Undoubtedly, the country's prisons contain many dangerous predators who are actually guilty of the crimes of which they were convicted, and most of those sentenced to death committed unspeakable acts.
But whether or not one believes that the system works fairly most of the time, there is no denying that innocent people have been found on death row, and that many owe their freedom to factors having little to do with a properly functioning system of justice.
The innocence of James Richardson, who was sentenced to death in Florida for the murder of his seven children, was established only after someone broke into a prosecutor's office and stole a file on the case which showed that the state had suppressed evidence of Richardson's innocence and that key witnesses, including a local sheriff, had lied under oath.
Richardson spent twenty-one years in prison for a crime he didn't commit. No law-enforcement official was ever held accountable. Rolando Cruz owes his life to Brian Dugan, who told the police about his own involvement in the Nicarico murder only to escape the death penalty. Joseph Burrows spent five years on death row for murdering an elderly man in He was freed after the key witness against him, Gayle Potter, was persuaded by a conservative Republican pro-death-penalty lawyer to tell the truth: that she had committed the murder.
Most murderers never confess to their crimes, and it's fair to assume that most don't care if innocent people are executed in their place. Walter McMillian, a black Alabaman who spent six years on death row for murdering an eighteen-year-old white woman, probably owes his freedom to a judge who was determined to have him executed.
McMillian, who was dating a white woman at the time of his arrest, was sent to death row before even being tried. Although he had no prior felony record and twelve alibi witnesses placed him at a church fundraiser at the time of the murder, a jury convicted him of murder after a trial lasting a day and a half and sentenced him to life in prison without parole.
But that wasn't good enough for Judge Robert E. All this devastates Rose, whose resulting depression forces her to be hospitalized. While awaiting a second trial Manny is exonerated when the true robber is arrested holding up a grocery store. Manny visits Rose at the hospital to share the good news, but, as the film ends, she remains severely depressed; a textual epilogue explains that she recovered two years later.
Rose Balestrero — died in Florida at the age of She blamed herself for her husband's arrest. Chris Balestrero sued the city for false arrest. The street is not far from the former real-life Balestrero home.
A Hitchcock cameo is typical of most of his films. In The Wrong Man , he appears only in silhouette in a darkened studio, just before the credits at the beginning of the film, announcing that the story is true. Originally, he intended to be seen as a customer walking into the Stork Club, but he edited himself out of the final print. Many scenes were filmed in Jackson Heights , the neighborhood where Manny lived when he was accused.
Most of the prison scenes were filmed among the convicts in a New York City prison in Queens. The courthouse was located at the corner of Catalpa Avenue and 64th Street in Ridgewood.
Bernard Herrmann composed the soundtrack, as he had for all of Hitchcock's films from The Trouble with Harry through Marnie It is one of the most subdued scores Herrmann ever wrote, and one of the few he composed with some jazz elements, here primarily to represent Fonda's appearance as a musician in the nightclub scenes. This was Hitchcock's final film for Warner Bros. It completed a contract commitment that had begun with two films produced for Transatlantic Pictures and released by Warner Brothers: Rope and Under Capricorn , his first two films in Technicolor.
Contemporary reviews were mixed to negative, with many critics finding the realism of the film to be less compelling than the dramatic suspense that Hitchcock was known for. Weiler of The New York Times wrote that Hitchcock "has fashioned a somber case history that merely points a finger of accusation.
His principals are sincere and they enact a series of events that actually are part of New York's annals of crime but they rarely stir the emotions or make a viewer's spine tingle.
Frighteningly authentic, the story generates only a modicum of drama. When management did hold fast on wage rates, it frequently reduced hours, so that weekly pay envelopes shrank. Nevertheless, in factory payrolls plunged 35 percent; Detroit turned out 2 million fewer cars than it had the year before; and more than 25, businesses failed—another unwelcome record. In these dark hours, the nation looked to the president for guidance, comfort, and good cheer—but looked in vain. Never a good-morning or even a nod of the head.
All days were alike to him. Sunday was no exception, for he worked just as hard on that day if not harder than on any of the others. There was always a frown on his face and a look of worry. The president had no sense of how to reach out to a desperate nation. He can understand vibrations but cannot hear tone. Senate reduced to one. They also lost 52 seats in the House, which, when the 72nd Congress convened in December , Democrats would control for the first time since In the last two months of , banks failed.
The collapse of the Bank of United States on December 11 wiped out the life savings of , depositors, primarily Jewish garment workers—many of them recent immigrants who had placed their trust in an institution whose name suggested that it was an arm of the government. It was the worst collapse in the history of the republic. Over the previous year the Grain Stabilization Corporation had been buying wheat, only to find that prices continued to tumble and that it was stuck with an immense stockpile that it could not readily dispose of.
Purchasing cotton had a similar outcome. Hoover refused to sanction production controls, and prices skidded. In June the board gave up. The Grain Stabilization Corporation stopped buying surpluses and dumped million bushels on the market, driving the price of wheat catastrophically lower. The government had financed the removal of 3. The farming sector faced ruin and, because of its importance to the economy of Main Street, threatened to pull hundreds of banks down with it.
After the short session of Congress ended, Hoover turned aside pleas to bring legislators back, even though the Depression was worsening. In October , Hoover returned to Philadelphia for a World Series contest at Shibe Park, where two years earlier he had received a heartwarming welcome, only to be greeted by deafening boos.