- Clive Stafford Smith (clivejive.wordpress.com)
march, 25, 2012
Woodland, Washington (CNN) — Alan Northrop was playing pool in 1993 when his life changed forever. He was lining up a bank shot when he felt something on his wrist: a handcuff.
Northrop was arrested for the rape and kidnapping of a housekeeper. “I instantly said, ‘No, you’ve got the wrong guy,'” Northrop recalls telling detectives. But detectives believed the victim’s testimony, although she was blindfolded for most of the attack. A jury agreed, sentencing Northrop, a father of three children under age 6, to 23 years in prison.
From behind bars, Northrop tried to prove police had the wrong guy. In 2000, he contacted the Innocence Project Northwest at the University of Washington School of Law in Seattle.
For years, prosecutors denied the project’s requests to use more advanced DNA testing on the evidence in Northrop’s case. In 2005, a new state law gave judges the power to order additional testing. But it took five more years for Northrop’s testing to be completed and for a court to consider the results that conclusively showed another man’s DNA was on the victim.
In 2010, Northrop, still sitting in prison, got a letter with news he thought he might never get.
“I was jumping around the day room saying, ‘I’m out of here! I’m out of here!'” Northrop said.
read full interview on CNN
march 23, 2012 source : http://www.thisiscornwall.co.uk
They have the death penalty in 34 American states – 16 of which currently perform executions with lethal injections. Until only recently, you could elect to die by firing squad in Utah.
“I’m not an advocate of the death penalty,” said Werner.
“Neither am I,” quipped Hank.
What emerged from this compelling documentary was a grim story of life on death row. The treatment of inmates seemed barbaric. Time doesn’t just drag here, it’s all over the place.
They don’t wash the windows of the cells so prisoners end up cocooned in a world of their own.
There’s activity and noise 24 hours a day. They serve breakfast at 3am, lunch at 10am and supper at 4pm.
The food is awful, says Hank, until you get to the execution unit, where you get a good last meal. He’s been so close to execution that he’s been given the last rites and had a final meal – fried chicken, catfish fillets, salad, a bacon cheeseburger, fries and chocolate milkshake.
It was delicious – because it’s prepared by the prisoners and they get to eat what the condemned man couldn’t face. Hank says, with a wry smile, that his last-minute reprieve gave him his appetite back and the prisoners had to go without their treat.
Hank says he’s innocent of the murder of his girlfriend and her two mentally disabled sons in 1995 – I guess a lot of death row men say they’re not guilty – but it seems unjust that he had to go to the Supreme Court to get the District Attorney to release DNA evidence which he says could prove his innocence.
On the face of it, he might have a point. There was another man’s jacket at the scene covered in the victim’s blood. His fingerprints were on a knife because he used it every day to make sandwiches.
Whatever the rights and wrongs of the case, it throws the spotlight on the use of the death penalty. Being proved innocent after death makes no sense at all.
kill a man, will not bring back the person you lost. kill an innocent man, will not bring back the person you lost, but two innocent people will have died for nothing. when justice will understand that the death sentence is not the solution to reducing crime, and when I read after an execution, we won! what have you gained ? society that has she won? and you?
Take the time to read Leon Benson’s website,, take action sign the petition and share when possible.
We can not allow a person imprisoned which should be free !
Leon Benson website :http://www.freewebs.com/freeleonbenson/