The Just Us System…

Last night I caught the news segment about Charles Allen Chatman who had been jailed for nearly 27 years for a crime he did not commit. In 1981 at the age of 20 he was convicted of raping a neighbor of his, whom he lived a few doors down for 13 years. He was convicted on the grounds that the victim was “a nurse, she was a trained observer, incapable of making a mistake.”

Mr. Chatman contends that his accusation and conviction were racially movitaved, of which I am inclined to agree, especially in Texas.

The amazing part of the story is the man’s perseverance. He was sentenced to 99 years, but since he always maintained his innocence he was denied parole. It wasn’t until 2001 that he had a shot at freedom, since prior to that state prisoners could not request DNA tests. After 2 DNA tests, which came back inconclusive, he chose to wait it out until DNA testing advanced, since the last sample would exhaust all genetic evidence from the victim’s rape kit.

It was the Y-STR kit that cleared his name. This test is able to identify genetic markers from the slightest amount of genetic material.

The range of emotions one feels from being released from a wrongful imprisonment must be intense. The sheer excitement of breathing free air, and the bitter taste of so much time lost. That made the DA’s words about justice a bit hard to take when he said to Chatman, “You are an example of how justice is supposed to work.” Too bad it started working for him after sitting idle for 27 years.

2 Comments so far

  1. z (unregistered) on January 8th, 2008 @ 1:46 pm

    very good post.

  2. Richard Ault (unregistered) on January 13th, 2008 @ 7:50 pm

    Thx for this post. And I wish Chatman the best at taking his life back.

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