In 1993 three teenagers were convicted of the murders of three children in West Memphis, Arkansas. One received a death sentence, while the other two were given life in prison. A large majority of legal experts agree that the entire investigation was bungled from the start: evidence mishandled, confessions extracted unlawfully from a mentally handicapped defendant, jury tampered with, and a bizarre courtroom scene resulting in three convictions. Justice was not carried out in the slightest. The defendents, case and surrounding events have come to be referred to as the West Memphis 3. Whole books have been written on the subject, so I'll skip right to my point.
Two of the people who are responsible for wrongfully imprisoning these three are currently running for political office in Arkansas and will be facing the general election in mid-May:
David Burnett, the judge presiding over the case, is running for Arkansas State Senate in District 15 (Poinsett and Mississippi Counties). He ran a complete circus of a courtroom, barring nearly every defense witness from testimony and obstructing justice in nearly every way conceivable. Though the case has come under intense legal scrutiny - including DNA evidence demonstrating that the three defendants were never at the crime scene - he refuses to grant any kind of appeal or legal recourse. Every time the possibility of a retrial arises, he squashes it outright. For 17 years these three have languished in prison as a direct result of Burnett's refusal to allow a retrial - because he knows exactly how flimsy the state's case is, and cannot bear to think that they would walk free.
John Fogleman, prosecutor in the case, is running for Arkansas Supreme Court. During the trial he worked with the police and composed a bizarre case rooted in panic and fear: claiming the murders were part of some "satanic ritual", citing the defendant's all-black wardrobe as evidence of devil worship, and reading heavy metal lyrics in an attempt to cast the defendents as sociopathic warlocks who committed the crime for some fantastical magic ceremony. He too has never recanted on his tactics and was engaged in his own set of police cover-ups and lies throughout the trial.
I haven't read the candidates' political platform, checked into where they stand on "the issues", or read any of their plans for what to do when in office. It doesn't matter to me what kind of values they profess to have in order to win votes. Their actions speak for themselves, and I will not support candidates - especially in a judicial position - who refuse to uphold impartiality and would rather put innocent people to death than admit to their mistakes.
So when voting day comes, I'm checking the box for Judge Courtney H. Henry for Arkansas Supreme Court, and Barrett Harrison for Arkansas State Senate. I hope you too will choose to do the same.