Prisons in Texas certainly aren’t starting the New Year off right. From an innocent man spending decades in prison to jailers being fired after the death of an inmate, the prisons of Texas are getting a myriad of bad press as 2011 begins.
At least Cornelius Dupree Jr.’s story is a bittersweet one. According to DallasNews.com, the 51-year-old Dallas County inmate is expected to be exonerated after about three decades in jail, the longest sentence served by a Texas inmate cleared by DNA testing. Dupree was convicted in a 1979 Dallas rape, robbery and abduction. Dupree and another man were wrongfully identified by the rape victim in a police lineup, and the victim also confused Dupree and the other man (who is still in jail pending an investigation into a second rape which he is serving a life sentence for) during their trial.
Thanks to the Innocence Project, which tests DNA evidence from old criminal cases, Dupree’s misidentification has been corrected, but he won’t get back the 30 years he spent behind bars. Dupree could have been released on parole earlier, but maintained his innocence.
It’s a sobering thought to ponder over how many inmates are in a similar position and how Dupree must feel right now. While he is finally out of prison after all this time, it’s hard to imagine the pain he has experienced the last three decades as he was forced to pay so dearly for someone else’s mistake.
Another sobering story from a Texas prison comes from east Texas, where Chron.com reports that five Gregg County jailers have been fired after the death of a female inmate arrested on Christmas Eve. Her death is currently being investigated, but it seems that the woman was denied her prescription medication. After a medical examination showed she had high blood pressure and was disoriented and hallucinating, she was prescribed a substitute medication. Still, it seems that foul play was involved, since one of the officers at Gregg County was charged with falsifying a jail log, and it’s hard to imagine how the woman’s family felt hearing such horrible news during the holidays.
And in yet another sad story from east Texas involving an inmate, The Star-Telegram reports that a man convicted of murder in 1983 claimed another victim. Rodney Connally was hunting near a county road when he mistook an Overton resident for a deer, shooting and killing the 41-year-old man. The convicted felon was arrested and arraigned for the unlawful possession of a firearm.
So is there a problem with the prison system in Texas? With so many tragic tales within such a short period of time, the Texas prison system is definitely not off to a good start in 2011 (although it would definitely be nice to see more stories like that of Cornelius Dupree Jr.).