Over at Crime and Consequences, Kent Scheidegger has a couple of interesting posts on former death row inmate Timothy Hennis. He was found guilty yesterday of premeditated murder by a military jury, even though he has long been listed on the “innocence list” maintained by the Death Penalty Information Center.
Of course, it is possible to make a mistake in assembling a list of innocents. By the Death Penalty Information Center, quoted in the New York Times (as recounted on the blog) has this curious defense of including Hennis on the list:
Richard C. Dieter, the executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, said in an interview that Mr. Hennis’s name would be removed from the innocence list. But Mr. Dieter defended the list and its name. Being found “not guilty” is not innocence in the sense of “innocent as a newborn babe,” he said, and “we’ve never said that’s what the innocence list is about.”
I’ve always understood the DPIC to be arguing that their list contained only proven “wrong man” cases — that is, cases in which the wrong person was convicted of a crime he did not commit. If all the DPIC is arguing is that the list contains the names of people who the state failed to prove guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, then it needs to be clear on that point in their future discussions of the death penalty.