Sunday, January 28, 2007

FOIA -- Freedom of Information Act

I've been tracking the FOIA blog for a while and noticed this today.

The Associated Press has this report on a man whose FOIA request from prison led to his freedom. Roy Brown was convicted of murdering a woman. Once he was in prison, he made a FOIA request on the case and learned that there was evidence about an ex-boyfriend of the woman that Brown and his attorneys never saw. Brown wrote a letter to the man accusing him of the crime. The man then committed suicide; a judge later ordered his body exhumed for a DNA test. The man's DNA matched that found on the shirt the woman wore the night she was murdered, and Brown was released from prison.

It's nice to see a FOIA request having this type of effect.

The linked story also makes reference to a man in Georgia who was released from prison last week after spending twenty-plus years in jail for a rape conviction, having been cleared by DNA evidence.

I cannot imagine how these men must feel. What happened to them was not only wrong, it kept on being wrong year after year while decades went by. This is not the same as somebody breaking in line at the grocery store, or even having your property vandalized. These are examples of mind-boggling, world-class wrong. These are the exceptions, of course. The criminal justice system has a disagreeable mission and mostly does it well. But when I hear stories like these I want to peer into the minds of those who have been wronged and look for a level of patience, wisdom and forgiveness that must be more well-developed in them than for the rest of us in the population.

1 comment:

Amaris said...

Well written article.