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Are People Convicted of the Death Penalty Really Guilty?

Did Texas Execute an Innocent Man?

PrawfsBlawg's Dan Markel explores the question in this interesting Slate piece.  Here is a taste:

Two years ago, Hollywood released The Life of David Gale. Its fictional protagonist, Gale, played by Kevin Spacey, is a professor and anti-death-penalty activist in Austin, Texas, who—following a couple of bizarre events—soon finds himself mistakenly convicted of killing a fellow activist and on Texas' death row. Gale decides to reveal his innocence to a magazine journalist, but he does so only in the last three days preceding his scheduled execution. Gale realizes that the machinery of death will not halt until and unless an innocent person is executed. Seeing that his abolitionist cause will be better served by his execution than his exoneration, Gale decides to sacrifice himself upon this altar.

For a long time, death-penalty abolitionists have feared (and perhaps secretly hoped) that a real David Gale would report for duty. And as detailed in last week's Houston Chronicle, compelling evidence now shows that Texas executed an innocent man named Ruben Cantu 12 years ago.

You can read the full piece here.