If You Guessed African American, Low Income and Intellectually Disabled, Go to the Head of the Class
The NYT has a horrific story of a man held over 30 years in jail without being convicted of anything.
|Jerry Hartfield in a prison outside Gatesville, Texas, in 2012. Michael Graczyk/Associated Press|
"The legal record shows that Jerry Hartfield’s first murder conviction was thrown out on appeal, and for the next 32 years, he was not officially guilty of anything, not sentenced to anything. Yet he spent that time in Texas prisons, in what an appellate court now calls “a criminal justice nightmare.”
Anyway, after it was discovered he had not been convicted, this happened.
"The District Attorney’s Office was able to locate just one of the 16 evidence exhibits used at the original trial, several witnesses had died, and at least one had dementia. The murder weapon was lost, along with blood and semen samples that could have yielded DNA. Ms. Lowe’s car no longer existed.
But the trial court ruled that the case could proceed, and in 2015, 38 years after his first trial, Mr. Hartfield was convicted again and sentenced to life in prison. If that sentence were counted from the start of his time in prison, he would have been eligible for parole long ago."
The charges against him have now been dismissed. But that doesn't mean much in Texas.
". . .on Thursday, Mr. Hartfield moved closer to freedom than he has been in decades. A state Court of Appeals ruled that he was not only denied his constitutional right to a speedy trial, but to a degree the court had neither seen nor imagined before; it noted that the important precedents dealt with delays of three years, six years, eight years — not 32.
The three-judge panel dismissed the indictment against Mr. Hartfield, who is developmentally disabled, in effect erasing the recent conviction. But it is still not clear whether, or when, he will get out of prison."