Monday, October 06, 2008


Friday afternoon I sat in our large conference room here at our headquarters for a few minutes and listened almost breathlessly as 8 men shared their stories of life behind bars for crimes they did not commit.

A couple of the gentleman involved in the conversation had left the building before I made it to the meeting. So, ten men seated around a table trying to make sense out of the meaning of their lives in face of the loss of decades of life thanks to being wrongly accused, convicted and imprisoned.

Thanks to new DNA technology, each of these men had been exonerated and released from prison. (Read more about this issue and Texas here.)

Now they are trying to move back into the world, while dealing with an unimaginable emotional mix of conflicting feelings, fears and anxieties.

Central Dallas Ministries hopes to partner with these men to put forward new legislation that would ensure that such cases result in a clean record. Currently, as hard as it is to believe, even though freed, their conviction stays on their records! A Governor's pardon is not automatic and to receive the financial benefit that the state will pay, each must find legal help to pursue this rather laborious process.

Injustice is written all over this one, as is race.

For those of you who can't comprehend the notion of institutional racism, take a look at this entire, tragic situation.

We'll get involved. It's a fight faith won't allow us to walk away from.

More later.



Anonymous said...

Thank you Larry for always remembering those most of us forget. This is truly good work, and thank you for recognizing the social structures that placed these men in this situation rather than thinking they were a few extraordinary cases. Society owes these men more than it can ever repay.

Mark said...

The link to institutional racism isn't there. Thanks.

Larry James said...

Mark, simply disagree. All of the 10 exonerees with us last week were minorities. The % of minorities incarcerated compared to their numbers in the general population point clearly to the fact that justice is certainly not color blind in the US. Consider sentencing for identical crimes. Minorities receive much harsher sentences than do whites for the same crimes. Sorry that you can't see it. However, your inability to see does not change the facts of this matter.

cindy said...

Larry, perhaps Mark was disagreeing with you. But I interepreted his comment to mean he was telling you that when you wrote, "For those of you who can't comprehend the notion of institutional racism, take a look here," there literally is no link to access the information.

c hand said...

Since the victims of black crime are likely to be to black, softening sentences for black criminals harms black neigborhoods. Faulty convictions are tragic, but so are faulty acquittals. We need to work to minimize both.

Will you be citing OJ's conviction in Las Vegas as another court injustice?

Daniel Gray said...

To those of you who deny the impact of race on the criminal justice system, I highly recommend you read Jeffrey Reimer's "the Rich get richer and the poor get prison".

It's very eye opening and has empirical proof that every step of the criminal justice system is prejudiced against minorities.

Mark said...

I'm sorry I was misunderstood. I thought when you said look here, you meant to put a "link" to a site explaining more about institutional racism. By the way I totally agree with your point.

Larry James said...

No, no, Mark, completely my bad! I didn't take the time to look back into the post. Sorry that I misunderstood you. I guess I expect push back on anything racial. After looking at my post, I just used "here" one time too many! The link is embedded earlier in the text. Cindy, thanks for pointing out my error. Again, Mark, thanks for your patience!