The Scales of Injustice

The Scales of Injustice
Photograph: Shelly Katz/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images
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About a year ago, it was reported that Randall Dale Adams had died, bringing to a close one of the more tragic stories in recent Texas history. A construction worker from Ohio, Adams (pictured here, in 1989) was convicted and sentenced to die in 1977 for the murder of Dallas police officer Robert W. Wood. He spent twelve years behind bars—and, in 1979, came within three days of being executed—before being released in 1989 after the key eyewitness recanted his previous testimony. The story was brought to widespread attention by the landmark documentary The Thin Blue Line, and Adams’s case became a rallying point for advocates of criminal justice reform. But after a few years of speeches and television appearances, he mostly shunned the spotlight, and by the time he died he was living in complete obscurity. When his obituary ran last June, he had already been dead for eight months.

For a time, Adams was the public face of wrongful convictions, but that dubious mantle has long since passed on to others who suffered a similar fate. Most recently, it has belonged to Michael Morton, a Williamson County man who served nearly 25 years for murdering his wife—a crime he did not commit—before being released last fall. This was one year after the release of Anthony Graves, who had been behind bars for 18 years for a brutal multiple homicide in Somerville—a crime that Graves had absolutely nothing to do with. There have also been scores of less-high-profile cases. Nearly fifty men have been exonerated and set free in Texas since 1989 using modern DNA testing on evidence collected at the crime scene. Last

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