A study has revealed that more than 2,000 persons found guilty of serious crimes in the United States over the past 23 years have been exonerated.

The data were assembled by the University of Michigan Law School and the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law.

Surely many other wrongfully convicted persons have not been exonerated. The authors note no exonerations have been made in some heavily populated counties in Texas and California.

They also might have noted the state of Maine, where Deputy Attorney General Bill Stokes was quoted as saying that wrongful convictions do not occur.

Many recent exonerations involved crimes dating from 1988 into the early 1990s, and it may be no coincidence that the Republican mantra that Democrats were “soft on crime,” citing the Willie Horton debacle, began in June 1988 with the presidential campaign of George H. W. Bush.

The horrendous murder of Sarah Cherry occurred that July. It may be no coincidence that Dennis Dechaine’s trial in 1989 could not be considered fair under any reasonable standard, nor that Maine’s then-attorney general, James Tierney, a liberal Democrat, had higher political aspirations.

From Tierney to Janet Mills, every Maine attorney general was a liberal Democrat who would not have wished to be labeled as being “soft on crime.”

Thus it may be no coincidence that Dechaine remains imprisoned today, despite the mountain of exculpatory evidence uncovered since his conviction.

William Bunting


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