Now Those Claiming Innocence Get Parole, Too

Wrongful convictions, DNA evidence bring change to tradition
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 13, 2014 9:14 AM CST
Robert Longshore, left, William Wynne Jr., and Cliff Walker listen to Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, address the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles on Nov. 21, 2013, in Montgomery, Ala.   (AP Photo/Montgomery Advertiser, Amanda Sowards)

(Newser) – For years, a prisoner's best shot at parole was to admit guilt, because to claim innocence meant denial. But as wrongful conviction cases stack up, the New York Times reports things are starting to change. "You can justify a release now," says a former New York parole board member. "They're considering actual innocence." Four men convicted of crimes (including murder) in Brooklyn courts have been issued parole recently, though they maintained their innocence—in some cases for decades. And it's not just New York: California and Alaska both granted parole this fall to men who said they were guiltless.

The case of Freddie Cox, however, is noteworthy, as no new DNA evidence appeared following his conviction for a 1986 murder in Coney Island, the Times reports. (A co-defendant in the case admitted to the murder and said Cox was innocent; Cox also had an alibi.) He told a parole board he was innocent on four separate occasions. The final time, a commissioner said, "I believe in justice and want to do what's right." Cox was granted parole, but he says he's not yet free. When he proves his innocence to the family of the man he's convicted of killing, "that's where my freedom really begins," Cox says. Click for the Times' full piece.

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