The case of Reggie Clemons represents everything that is wrong with the death penalty and the U.S. criminal justice system.
His case reminds us of Troy Davis, a black man who was executed by the state of Georgia in September, despite strong evidence of innocence, no physical evidence, another suspect and unreliable witnesses, not to mention worldwide protests.
In 1993, Clemons was sentenced to death in St. Louis, Missouri as an accomplice to the 1991 murder of Julie and Robin Kerry -- two white women who plunged to their deaths off the Chain of Rocks Bridge into the Mississippi River. He was 19 at the time of the killings, with a clean record.
He was beaten by police, denied a lawyer, and coerced into making a false confession. As Amnesty International reported, there was no physical evidence linking Clemons to the murders. Even the prosecution admitted that Clemons did not murder the victims, nor did he plan the crime.
Police torture and false testimony, crooked prosecutors and a stacked jury, incompetent defense counsel and missing evidence. Let's not forget raw racism. These are the key ingredients of a horrid dish called American justice. And sadly, this is why Reggie Clemons is facing execution. This is a prime example of what happens when criminal behavior in the police station and the courtroom sends an innocent man to his death. But unlike Troy Davis in Georgia, Cameron Todd Willingham, Ruben Cantu, Carlos DeLuna, or Larry Griffin in Missouri, Reggie Clemons is still alive. There is still time to save him. We can fix this.
On the other hand, we cannot fix our system of capital punishment. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, since 1973, 140 innocent men and women have been freed from death row in 26 states, each spending an average of nearly 10 years in prison awaiting execution.
Earlier coverage of Reggie Clemons' case begins at the link.