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Thursday, 24 March 2011

So many people touched by the justice system in Texas

It is hard for those not living in Texas, or even America, to fully comprehend the way that law and justice is interwoven with daily life there. America is a big country, but it also has over 2 million people incarcerated. That doesn't include the huge numbers of people who are on parole, probation or some other supervisory programme. Are Americans really that bad as people? Are they less tollerant? My friends and family over there insist that they are neither of those things, yet their answer to much "wrong-doing" is to lock people up.

This can happen even when the individual is not guilty of the charges brought against them. American justice, and in particular Texan justice, is nothing like we are used to in the UK. Our belief here that if you have done nothing wrong then you will be OK in the end, would not last long when faced with the prospect of being arrested for something you did not do in Texas. For a portion of the Texan incarcerated population - large enough not to ignore - being wrongfully convicted and spending time in prison when you are innocent is a very real occurrence which can (and does) leave social, mental and physical scars long after any conviction is overturned. That's if it is overturned at all.

I am not someone who thinks all inmates are innocent lambs sent to the slaughter. Far from it - most inmates have committed the crime they are convicted of and should spend at least some time behind bars, my husband included. But it concerns me that more and more people are being found not guilty after their sentencing, sometimes years after, by new DNA testing (which could have been carried out sooner) or by witnesses recanting their testimony and a new investigation taking place. If Texas were not so keen to secure a conviction at any costs in most cases, perhaps these miscarriages of justice would happen less frequently.

There are numerous individuals and stories on the web that are still fighting to clear their names and claw back some semblance of the lives they had before their wrongful convictions. One such lady, Audrey, has her own blog here, which is well worth reading if you have some spare time.

Do not think it could never happen to you or your loved ones. In Texas, it can happen to anyone.


  1. I never looked at the system this way. In my home town people can and do literally get away with murder. I supposed this is the flip side.

  2. People still get away with murder here too, if they have enough money to pay for the best defense attorneys. The rest of us get bankrupted by attorney fees then have to use a public defender, whose salary is paid for by the state and whose job is to fill up the prisons. Somewhat a conflict of interest.

    Thank you for posting my story!!! I have become a "follower" and look forward to finding out more about your husband's case. Is he okay? I've still to read all your prior blogs...will catch up today! I enjoy your writing.

  3. Hi Audrey :) Thanks for following and for the compliment.

    I'm told many inmates hit a "wall" at between 6 and 9 years of a long sentence. It seems Ray has hit that wall this year, right on cue. We're dealing with it and he'll be OK, but the long distance is a big factor with us and getting bigger each year.

    When I get my thoughts on it together, I may blog specifically about it in the next week or so.

  4. Great idea....in a sense blogging about it, building support, sharing your thoughts and feelings can help. There is a healing in all of that. One of my early blogs is called "Hope"...I was really having a tough time when I wrote that from the "inside" and it helped. Don't know, but time can really cause a person to shut down.

  5. I just fed the fish...that was too fun!


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