Innocence Project

(DALLAS, TX; April 15, 2008) – Thomas McGowan, who has spent 23 years in prison for a Dallas County rape and burglary that DNA testing now proves he did not commit, is expected to be released from prison tomorrow, according to the Innocence Project, which represents him.

In two separate trials in 1985 and 1986, McGowan was convicted of aggravated sexual assault and burglary and sentenced to two consecutive life terms in prison. DNA testing on a rape kit collected from the victim proves that he was not the man who broke into her home in May 1985, stole several items and raped her.

Innocence Project, April 15, 2008

This is one of those stories full of irony and contradiction; it’s hard to say if it’s more or a good or a bad news story. The good news is that Thomas McGownan, who stayed in jail because he refused to confess to a crime he did not commit, is free.

The bad news is that he is free because Dallas is one of the only Texas cities that kept its DNA evidence. This means that all over Texas, and no doubt the United States, innocent men sit in jails with little chance of freedom.

The good news is that the Innocence Project has used DNA to test 30 cases and 17 have proven to be false. The good news is that the racist anger of the late 1970s and 1980s, is slowly beginning to unravel, at least in these small, significant ways.

About Ray Watkins

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. I grew up in Houston, as a part of what we only half-jokingly call the Cajun Diaspora. At a certain point during the Regan administration, I had to leave, so I served in the Peace Corps, Philippines, from 1987-89. I didn't want to return to the United States just yet, so I moved to Paris, France, where I lived for three years or so. I then moved back to Austin, Texas, where I had received my Masters Degree, and (eventually) began a Ph.D., which I completed in 1999. I spent a year at Temple University and then accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University where I worked until May of 2006. I now work exclusively on line (although that may change) for Johns Hopkins, the Art Institute Online, and I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol]

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Post Navigation