There is yet another example of innocent people going to prison. Fortunately, for the women involved in this case, justice has finally come. According to the Associated Press, Elizabeth Ramirez, Kristie Mayhugh and Cassandra Rivera are all due to be released today. Their lawyer, Mike Ware, announced that he had cut a deal with the prosecution to secure their release from prison. They were serving terms ranging from 15 to 37 years.
The women were all convicted for kidnapping and sexual assault. The charges stemmed from an allegation that they had held down two young girls and attacked them. The girls were 7 and 9 at the time.
So what changed? In this case, the prosecution had relied on evidence that the injuries sustained by one of the girls occurred at the same time as the alleged assault. It turns out, however, that this is not the case. The science used to date the injury has now been discredited.
Recently, Texas has passed a number of statutes that allow for cases to be reexamined. In this case, that appeal was possible due to the fact that the state had used “junk scientific testimony” to secure the convictions. It is now obvious that the injuries sustained by the girl did not occur at the time the “assault” happened.
It would be great if Arizona would follow Texas’ lead and allow inmates to revisit their cases. I’m sure that the problems in Texas are not limited only to that state. As we can see, the consequences for these wrongfully convicted women are gigantic. They were denied their liberty for over a decade. That’s time that they cannot get back. As a society, we need to come to the conclusion that it is worth the expense to avoid putting innocent people behind bars.
Can you imagine if this happened to you or someone you love? How much would ten years of your life be worth to you?
Nick Alcock is a criminal defense lawyer in Phoenix Arizona
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