Longest Held Wrongfully Convicted Man Goes Home
Bump and Update: Bain was freed from prison today and officially cleared of the crime.
James Bain has been imprisoned for a rape and murder he did not commit for 35 years. Of the 245 inmates cleared and freed by DNA testing, he has been in jail the longest. He is 54 years old, and has been imprisoned since age 19.
Today, he should be going home.
At the hearing Thursday in Bartow, Florida, the state is expected to agree to Bain's release while the final aspects of its investigation are completed. After the initial DNA test, state investigators collected more DNA from Bain and from the victim in the case for further testing. Another hearing will be held, probably after the new year, which would formally vacate his conviction.
..."It's an indication that while all the 'i's' have not been dotted yet, there appears to be a sufficient likelihood of where this is going," said the spokesman, Chip Thullbery. "We don't think it's appropriate for Mr. Bain to spend any more time in prison."
Mr. Bain's family is ready for his return. They have a house, car, and even pajamas waiting for him. And now he will start to rebuild his life. [More...]
States need to establish commissions to study why these wrongful convictions happen and how they can be prevented. Mr. Bain is Florida's 11th wrongfully convicted inmate found to be factually innocent.
On Friday, a group of renowned attorneys that includes former Florida Supreme Court justices, former presidents of the American Bar Association and former Florida Bar leaders, petitioned Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Peggy Quince for the formation of an actual innocence commission. The request is modeled after a similar undertaking in North Carolina that brought together judges, police, prosecutors, defense lawyers, victims' advocates and academics for a two-year review of procedures in the criminal justice system. The commission isolated factors that helped lead to wrongful convictions and recommended changes.
In Bain's case, mistaken eye-witness evidence was a chief cause of his wrongful conviction.
Bain's blood type didn't match the semen found on the victim's underpants. He also had an alibi: Bain and his sister had been at home watching television when the crime occurred. But a jury convicted him anyway. Bain was 19 years old at the time and had no prior criminal record.
It's time for Florida to establish an Innocence Commission. Gov. Charlie Crist needs to act on the petition.
When an innocent person goes to prison it is a tragedy for society as well as for the wrongfully convicted and his family. His life is ruined, taxpayers pay for his upkeep and the real criminal is still at large.
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