This week, Manuel Velez was exonerated and released from a Texas prison after serving nine years behind bars-four of them on death row-for a murder he didn’t commit. His conviction was overturned due to missed evidence that showed he was 1,000 miles away when his son sustained injuries that led to his death.
Since 1973, over 140 individuals have been exonerated and freed from death rows across the country. In September 2014, two half-brothers, Leon Brown and Henry McCollum, were released from a North Carolina prison having spent 30 years on death row for the rape and murder of an eleven year old girl. Intellectually disabled, both were pressured into confessing to the crime, though they later recanted. The men were freed based on DNA evidence.
In Missouri, four individuals have been wrongly convicted and released from death row. The most recent was Reginald Griffin in 2013. Many individuals oppose the death penalty for fear of executing an innocent person.