When two Austin filmmakers set out to chronicle the flawed forensics behind the 2004 execution of Cameron Todd Willingham, they found themselves in the middle of a pitched political battle, pitting criminal justice activists against the a Texas governor (Rick Perry) looking to sweep news of a wrongful execution under the rug. Joe Bailey and Steve Mims chat with MoJo about their new documentary, Incendiary.
"Ballistics evidence used to convict Davis has since been debunked. Another witness has since emerged as a plausible suspect in the murder. Three jurors on the case now say that if they knew then what they know now, they would not have voted to convict. Davis was quite possibly innocent, but that was hardly the point. As expressed by the popular Twitter hash-tag, the problem was quite simply that there was #TooMuchDoubt."
Gov. Pat Quinn today signed into law a historic ban on the death penalty in Illinois and commuted the sentences of 15 death row inmates to life without parole.
The governor said he followed his conscience. He said he believed in signing the bill he also should “abolish the death penalty for everyone,” including those already on death row.
“Fellow citizens, we cannot escape history,” Quinn told reporters afterward. “I think it’s the right, just thing to abolish the death penalty.”
This is a clear example of political courage and moral leadership on a question of fundamental human rights. But it also represents a challenge to both citizens and elected officials of other states who have not thought critically about the death penalty or who currently refuse to do so. Take a good look at the facts, consider your other moral and political commitments, and start working toward the day when every American state comes to the same conclusion as Illinois: we can keep ourselves safe, we can stand for the rule of law, and we can support victims of violence … all without taking lives.