Sunday, February 13, 2005

Redemption Song

Picking up where we left off in the comments-section of the last post, I just heard this week's episode of This American Life. It tells the incredible story of Colin Warner who, in 1980, is given a sentence of "fifteen years to life" by a New York court for a murder that he did not commit. When four competent lawyers are unable to reverse his sentence, his friend Carl King works on setting Colin free. As the TAL writeup says,
"[Carl] becomes a do-it-yourself investigator. He learns to read court records, he tracks down hard-to-find witnesses, he gets the real murderer to come forward with his story"
And with the help of lawyer William Robedee, they succeed... after Colin has spent 21 years in jail. Part of the reason for Colin's long jail-time is that because he knows he's innocent, whenever he comes in front of the parole-board he can not pretend to be sorry for what he's done and is denied parole every time. And after all of this he gets out of jail and forgives the people (the witnesses who lied, for eg.) who were responsible for getting him in there.

At the end of the piece Robedee is quoted as saying

"If Colin Warner lived in Texas or Louisiana he would have been dead a long time ago. And that would have been the end of that."
Another well-told true story from This American Life, with the added bonus of the caribbean accents of the protagonists (with one segment where this guy goes back and forth between caribbean english and its american translation) and some rasta-speak.