Last Thursday, a Centre County court ordered Kevin Siehl to be released from prison. Judge David Grine dismissed the murder charges against Siehl in part because prosecutors withheld evidence of his innocence.
Last month, Anthony Wright was released from a Philadelphia prison on new DNA evidence for wrongful conviction placed 25 years ago. A few days earlier, James Dennis was granted a new trial due to prosecutorial misconduct after spending nearly two decades on death row.
In all three cases, there was overwhelming evidence that these men were innocent. In all three cases, prosecutors sought the death penalty. The legal processes being conducted by the courts at the county and state level are demonstrating deficiency in applying a proper standard of prosecution and public defense.
The implications are especially troubling when an innocent individual could be potentially put to death by the state. Furthermore, if the commonwealth fails to provide any statute of compensation for the wrongfully convicted, then the prosecutorial process must be as impeccable as possible.
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This is not the first time that prosecutorial misconduct is guilty of miscarriages of justice in our state. If our elected legal authorities fail to recognize the risks associated with seemingly arbitrary sentencing, injustices like the one mentioned above will continue to take place, wasting resources and ruining innocent lives.
Nicolas Guerrero, University Park