Sunday, May 4, 2008

"A Man Has To Stand For Something..."

The incredible work of the Innocence Project of Texas in Dallas County, along with DA Craig Watkins, gained even more attention tonight with a piece on 60 Minutes. I sat, riveted as I watched James Woodard, the 17th man to walk out of jail wrongfully convicted by former DA Henry Wade's convict-at-all-costs office, learn that he would be freed. And I wept. I'll admit it. It was a powerful moment. A volunteer with the Innocence Project that took his file, who wasn't even born when he was convicted 27 years ago, told him that the DNA evidence cleared him. And there wasn't a dry eye at the table. The next day, both the judge and Watkins apologized. The judge said that he wasn't getting justice, just "the end of injustice." To add to the insult, Watkins revealed that Wade's prosecutors also withheld evidence that might have exonerated Woodard all those years ago - his girlfriend, who he was accused of raping and murdering, was also in the company of another man, who was later accused of raping someone else. Watkins has now gone on record as saying he would like to see these prosecutors punished more harshly for these acts, which are costing the the state millions. Woodard was asked by the interviewer why he didn't just confess to the crime, so he could be paroled out earlier. His response?
"I wasn’t guilty. I mean a man has to stand for something."