Wednesday, May 19, 2010

In Search of 54: Update

A couple months ago, I did a back-of-the-envelope calculation which caused me to claim that Texas may have executed 54 innocent people. Soon thereafter, I vowed to review all 450 (now 451) lethal injections in Texas to see if I could identify those 54.

I used a coarse filter to rapidly exclude from consideration most of those who were executed. I do not dispute that most of the people executed were in fact guilty of a capital offense. I then designed and applied an Actual Innocence Scorecard to more carefully consider the remaining 69. I summarize below the ones I have scored so far.

Radley Strikes Again

Score another one for Radley Balko, this time for his post on the increasing militarization of our police departments. He's getting letters from military personnel explaining that they (the military) are much more restrained in their search behavior than are SWAT teams.

It's a good read. Here's my takeaway quote: "A couple of years ago after I'd given a speech on this issue, a retired military officer and former instructor at West Point specifically asked me to stop using the term "militarization," because he thought comparing SWAT teams to the military reflected poorly on the military."