GRACE is very pleased to announce that Calvin Jerold Burdine has entered into an agreement with the State of Texas that ensures he will never face the executioner. After twenty years of incarceration, including 18 years on death row and several close calls with the executioner, Calvin says he feels like “Nine tons have been taken off my shoulders.” Finally free of the specter of lethal injection, Calvin has already begun to turn his attention to ministering to his fellow inmates. Read more about Calvin.
Fall from GRACE Award
Our Fall from Grace award is given for the most disgraceful behavior in law enforcement, and this summer the award goes to the Harris County Police Department Crime Lab.
The former director of HPD’s DNA testing unit said that the lab was an underfunded “train wreck,” and he was right. After a Houston television news program questioned some of the DNA lab’s conclusions, officials ordered an outside audit that showed major deficiencies. Among the problems found at the lab were insufficiently trained examiners and a leaky roof that could have contaminated DNA samples and compromised testing.
In addition, examiners have been found to have misrepresent the statistical strength of DNA matches, failed to analyze all available evidence in a capital murder case, and compiled sloppy paperwork. The problems with the lab have called into question the results of tests conducted in more than 1300 cases. Already, one man convicted for rape has been released pending formal exoneration.
Most frightening is the fact that the lab is used by Harris County prosecutors, who have sent 69 people to their deaths since Texas resumed executions in 1976. Currently, 159 people sit on death row in Harris County. In a county that sends more convicts to death row than any other in the nation, this kind of behavior by the HPD crime lab is a deadly disgrace.
Copyright 2015 GRACE. All rights reserved.