Innocent People Wrongly Convicted

Excerpts form the Testimony of Donald Cabana
Former Warden of the Mississippi State Penitentiary
Before the Judiciary Committee of the
Minnesota House of Representatives
December 7, 1995

Americans do not have the right to ask me, or any prison official, to bloody my hands with an innocent persons blood...

If we wrongfully incarcerate somebody, we can correct that wrong. But if we execute an innocent person by mistake, what is it were supposed to say, " Oops?" What is it were supposed to do to make up for it? And if we have become a nation in which it is better to let 100 innocents be executed than to let one guilty go free, instead of the other way around, then we are in more trouble than even I realized...

People think weve got 3,000 Ted Bundys and Jeffery Dahmers on death row. We dont. We have 3,000 people that look like your kid or my kid... and you say to yourself, "What in Gods name goes so wrong? What happens so badly in somebodys life that it comes to this?"...

I now carry with me the burden of knowing that there is every likelihood that I have executed an innocent young man. At some point in time the states that have the death penalty should take a bold step and no longer require prison officials hidden under the cover of midnight darkness to carry this task out, but empower the district attorney and the jury foreman to travel to the prison and carry out the task...

Resources Are Precious and Scarce

We dont want to know that the death penalty is as much as six times more costly than life without parole. We dont want to know that we can make far better use of our resources in fighting this scourge of crime and drugs that afflicts every community in this county by pouring funds in to law enforcement, by pouring funds into child-protection service programs, into early intervention programs...

Do not repeat the mistakes of other states. The state of Florida faced a $67 million shortfall in its operating budget-- not monies that agencies were asking for the next fiscal year, but monies the legislature had appropriated. And yet at the same time, the state of Florida had spent $63 million dollars to execute 18 people...

For more information, contact Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights,
310 Fourth Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55415-1012.
Tel: 612-341-3302, Fax: 612-341-2971, E-mail:
[email protected]

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