As attorneys who represent victims of civil rights violations like discrimination and police misconduct, you get used to looking for what the state has done wrong: did the police assault someone without provocation, use too much force, or otherwise violate a person’s rights? Well, sometimes the same people who made a mistake make good on fixing it. After 29 grueling years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, Raymond Towler is finally a free man. After prosecutors received DNA evidence that proved that Mr. Towler could not have been the animal that raped and attacked two children, they immediately asked that he be freed.
Needless to say, he was overjoyed:
Towler smiled, hugged relatives and friends and shook hands with everyone who extended an arm. Bystanders stared as he walked through the courthouse with television cameras recording his every step.
Towler entered prison at age 24 for a crime he didn’t commit. But two days after DNA tests proved his innocence, the middle-aged man with a salt-and-pepper beard said he doesn’t blame anyone for the injustice bestowed upon him.
He said he always knew he’d be exonerated but never expected it to take almost 29 years.
“They had the wrong person, and it took them a while to work it out,” he said, chuckling. “All I care about right now is that they did straighten it out. Now I can go on with my life.”
Mr. Towler’s attitude is amazing: an example to anyone of how to live a positive life. His story, though, is all-too-common; police and prosecutors expected to maintain law and order may feel pressure to bend—or even break—the rules. In this case, the officers and prosecutors involved surely felt intense pressure to capture the perpetrator of such a heinous sexual assault of a child, and made a mistake. In other cases we’ve seen, an officer beat a handcuffed teenager with a heavy flashlight and we were able to recover substantial compensation for him because the police had used unreasonable and excessive force. I’m glad that the Ohio Innocence Project is out there working on behalf of the wrongly convicted. Similarly, Mr. Towler is likely entitled to compensation for his ordeal. While this type of recompense can never change the pain these victims endured, it can help make life a little less difficult.
Have you seen, worked on cases involving, or been subjected to civil rights violations? Have you worked on cases trying to free someone who was wrongly convicted? What do you think about programs like The Innocence Project? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts!
|Raymond Towler freed after 29 years in prison for rape he did not commit|