America’s Culture Of Death Got It Wrong Again.
Meet Harold Wilson. In 1989 Wilson was found guilty of three murders. Wilson was given the death penalty. Now after 17 years in prison, Wilson has been completely exonerated based on DNA evidence. He was released just over a month ago, on November 15th, 2005.
In 1989, Wilson was convicted by a Pennsylvania jury. He was sentenced to die three times, one for each murder. Ten years later, Wilson’s death sentence was overturned because it was found that he had had an ineffective defense attorney. His defense attorney, Willis Berry, has since become a judge.
Despite that his death sentence was overturned, he stayed on Death Row, sometimes being force to endure freezing temperatures, a tactic used by the guards in order to maintain discipline. One of the guards at the prison was later found guilty of torturing Iraqis at Abu Gharib.
Wilson had originally been prosecuted by former Philadelphia Assistant District Attorney Jack McMahon. In 1997, the courts began to re-examine Philly’s jury selection process after McMahon’s role in a training tape revealed him instructing colleagues to keep poor blacks off of juries because they were less likely to convict.
In 2003 Wilson was given a new trial after it was found that McMahon had used racial bias to eliminate black jurors. On October 31st, 2005 Wilson got a new trial, this time with DNA evidence being presented for the first time. Sixteen days later Wilson was acquitted of all charges and set free.
This isn’t the first time, and it surely will not be the last time that those who are sentenced to face the barbaric death penalty have been found innocent and set free. For some, their innocence have only been found until after they have already been executed. The United States is the only first world nation to execute its citizens, but still has the highest murder rate in the industrialized world.