By Jean F. Andrews
The media has increasing spotlighted suspects who have been wrongfully accused by the police, wrongfully judged by the prosecutor and judge and wrongfully imprisoned for decades. Tony Freemantle in Sunday’s Houston’s Chronicle (Jan 20, 2013) lists a number of reasons for false convictions: 1) prosecutors hide evidence, 2) judges refuse to accept credible witnesses who say the suspect was elsewhere during the crime in question; 3) no DNA evidence is collected or its tampered with and 4) misleading forensic evidence points to the wrong person and 5) inadequate legal representation for the suspect and 6) confessions are ignored from real offender
For deaf suspects, I add — 7) false confessions are taken from a tired, scared and overly compliant suspect and 8) a sign language interpreter is not provided during all the police interrogations. This happened to Stephen Brodie, a deaf man from Dallas, Texas who served 20 years in a Dallas prison for a crime he did not commit. Falsely accused of raping a five year old girl, Brodie reported he was forced to confess to this crime during interrogations with the police officers, of which only during half of interrogations did he have a sign language interpreter. It was reported that Brodie case did not involve DNA, but it was the Texas county’s first exoneration involving a false confession
See journalist Tony Freemantle’s vivid and gripping story, Exonerees: The numbers are small, but the toll is immense—and growing (Sunday, Jan 20, 2013, Houston Chronicle).
[Editor’s Note: I did all I could do to find a link to this actual article, but the Houston Chronicle apparently chose not to make it available online. The link below is to the photo-essay, which they did make availble.
In this special section in the Houston Chronicle, photographer, Billy Smith II provides photographs of the 20 exonerees who were convicted of crimes they did not commit and served time in prison. Some were compensated, some were not, some died in prison. See chron.com/exonerees for more video and photos.
See also (http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504083_162-20017910-504083.html) about Stephen Brodie’s case in Dallas, Texas.
Jean F. Andrews is a Reading Specialist and Professor of Deaf Studies/Deaf Education at Lamar University.
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