Innocent People Languish on Death Row in the United States
- Rodney Reed
- Kevin Cooper
- Richard Glossip
- Darlie Routier
- Tyrone Noling
As of the end of August 2019 there were 2,629 people on death row across the United States. This number does fluctuate with some regularity as newly convicted and sentenced individuals enter death row whilst executions reduce the number. Unfortunately, mounting evidence continues to underscore the reality that there are innocent people on death row in the United States.
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1. Rodney Reed
In recent times, Rodney Reed is a death row inmate garnering a tremendous amount of public attention based on the proposition that he is innocent of the crimes for which he was convicted. In November 2019, his execution was indefinitely stayed a few days before he was to face lethal injection. The stay was granted to allow for a close consideration of exculpatory evidence associated with his case.
2. Kevin Cooper
Kevin Cooper is another person on death row many people consider to be innocent. On death row in California since 1985, Cooper was convicted of a quadruple murder. Cooper has long maintained that DNA testing would prove his innocence. At the end of Governor Jerry Brown’s time in office, the California Governor permitted limited DNA testing in Cooper’s case. Since his swearing-in, Governor Gavin Newsome has expanded the scope of DNA testing available not only to Cooper but to other death row inmates as well.
3. Richard Glossip
Richard Glossip is on death row in Oklahoma following a conviction for soliciting a murder in 1997. Many death row reform advocates and criminal justice experts maintain that Glossip is innocent. The sum total of evidence against him in the trial was the testimony of the man who admitted to killing the victim. The killer received a very favorable sentence in exchange for pointing the finger at Glossip as the reason the murder occurred.
4. Darlie Routier
Darlie Routier, on death row in Texas, has a large block of supporters who maintain she is innocent. These include criminal justice experts. Routier has always maintained her innocence in the brutal slaying of her two young sons. She actually was tried for only one of the deaths. This is yet another case in which DNA testing may vindicate the defendant. DNA testing has been ordered multiple times. However, as of 2019, the testing has yet to be completed.
5. Tyrone Noling
On death row in Ohio, Tyrone Noling and a large cohort of others in the criminal justice system maintain he is innocent. Noling was convicted of killing a married couple in rural Ohio over 20 years ago. Evidence continues to mount underscoring Noling’s innocence. Those associated with the case maintain that thorough DNA testing would identify the real killer and exonerate Noling. In 2018, the Ohio Supreme Court finally permitted Noling’s legal team access to the DNA profile obtained from the crime scene. Despite this ruling, the Ohio Supreme Court has denied Noling and his legal team access to other DNA evidence that very well may prove the man innocent of the crimes for which he is on death row.
A study by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences revealed that upwards to one in 25 people on death row in the United States are innocent, according to Newsweek. A few Governors have placed moratoriums on executions because of growing concerns about the number of innocent people facing execution, including in Illinois, California, and Pennsylvania. Many criminal justice analysts and reformers believe the number of such moratoriums will increase in the near future.