Executed and Innocent

109 Pages Posted: 21 Oct 2016

See all articles by Charles Baird

Charles Baird

Amnesty International Group 23 Houston

Date Written: October 15, 2016


The goal of my research is to determine if during my own lifetime here in the United States our criminal justice system has executed someone innocent. My research will focus on death penalty cases since 1980 and only those in the United States. I will describe in detail many cases that are questionable and examine very closely if this injustice has indeed been carried out. I will introduce and describe the path in which an innocent defendant could be sentenced to death and executed.

The parameter of this research is somewhat complicated by legal provisions and ongoing research. We find as technology progresses that things we considered historical fact are not as academically solid as we thought. There are many organizations, lawyers, researches and investigative media that have been looking into this topic for decades and will likely continue to uncover more and more information as time goes on. I am looking to present this is a black and white academic discipline but as we all know the imperfect system of justice that we have is consistently corrupted by the human error, sin and the color green.

The specific parameters of this research will focus on the last 30 years on United States jurisprudence history and the justice that has been administered in our courts. Some of the crimes in the cases described herein will have happened before this time boundary but the executions were carried out recent enough to be relevant. This study will be restricted to the United States and its official boundaries to include all fifty states and territories. We are not talking about events in the remote reaches of colonial or medieval history but these events happened in the 1980s and the 1990s in a first world country with the same legal system that we have today. My primary sources in this project will be the many cases referenced and the laws discussed. The sources for this project will vary widely and include research and statements from relevant organizations including Amnesty International, United States Supreme Court, American Civil Liberties Union, Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, the Catholic Church and various correctional departments. Other source material will include newspaper articles, published books and other media publications for which our conclusions will be based upon.

Some of these organizations already mentioned and many media publications have already done some extensive research into this topic but it still remains relatively new in the greater view of academia. There are many reporters and articles detailed below of which have done years or research and a multitude of pages into a specific case or two. A few of the sources that are used below have even published works that have summaries of up to five cases while other organizations including the American Civil Liberties Union and other abolitionist groups have on their own websites a page dedicated toward this type of research. Not all of these groups have listed the same cases or all of the cases listed in this research and many of these organizations or media have shown very little interest in cooperating with one another to compose such a work like this research does. There have been many articles written exhaustively on the subject using cases only as examples in proving a thesis but without an exhaustive sequential summary of the case. No single source has listed all of the 13 cases below as I dare to say that this research seems to be the first to pull together a comprehensive thoroughly vetted list of recent cases where innocent defendants have been executed.

Suggested Citation

Baird, Charles, Executed and Innocent (October 15, 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2852889 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2852889

Charles Baird (Contact Author)

Amnesty International Group 23 Houston ( email )

London EC1R 4RE
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://ww.amnestyhouston.org

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