Abolish the death penalty today

October 23, 2009

After spending 28 years in prison for a crime he did not commit, Mark Clements was finally set free in August. Here, he comments on the case of Reginald Blanton, who is scheduled to be executed on October 27 by the state of Texas.

TEXAS IS still under fire for the execution of Cameron Todd Willingham, but on October 27, 2009, the state is scheduled to execute Reginald Blanton, despite his claims of innocence.

In the Willingham case, Texas Gov. Rick Perry carried out the execution. Now that new evidence has surfaced that strongly suggests Perry killed an innocent man, he wishes to insist that he do likewise in the Blanton case.

Gov. Perry has ignored the opinion of millions around this nation who firmly believe that Willingham was indeed innocent. He has called him a "monster" even as he has disregarded key evidence by fire experts that Willingham never set the fire that killed his children, but rather that it was caused by some kind of accident.

In the Reginald Blanton case, Blanton was convicted on faulty evidence--that a shoe print belonged to him. The shoe print is now known to have been two sizes larger than his shoe print. His trial attorneys were ineffective, and there was not one eyewitness in the case. The witnesses against Blanton have since come forward to claim that police forced them to sign statements. The Texas courts once again allowed African Americans to be excluded from the jury.

This is a case that Gov. Perry should be pleased to reexamine, but he has told the media that he will carry out the execution of Reginald Blanton as planned--which amounts once again to a smack in the face of African Americans all across this nation.

No other race has suffered injustice like African Americans in this country. In the state of Illinois, it is a known fact that innocent men have been beaten and tortured by racist police detectives--framed and convicted, and placed on death row.

History is repeating itself once again. Slavery still exists. If you think it does not, then try walking in the shoes of Reginald Blanton, Kenneth Foster, Troy Davis, Rodney Reed, Stan Tookie Stanley Williams, Stanley Howard and many others.

The state of Texas' criminal justice system serves as the spotlight on why the death penalty in this country should be abolished today, not tomorrow.

Further Reading

From the archives