Viva Journalism & Gonzo!
Former death row inmate Anthony Graves was just freed after 18 years in a Texas prison. The District Attorney of Burleson County, Texas said that Mr. Graves was unequivocally an innocent man. It was a wrongful conviction based on perjured testimony and there was not a shred of evidence against Mr. Graves.
However, were it not for 8 years of investigative journalism led by Professor Nicole Casarez and her students at the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Mr. Graves would still be on death row.
According to Pamela Colloff, Sr. Editor of the Texas Monthly, "[Professor] Nicole Casarez and her journalism students spent eight years investigating this case and turned up some remarkable facts. They went back. They reinvestigated the case. They found new people to talk about what had happened. They pored over this incredible lengthy and complicated court record. And what Nicole and her students put together was a very damning picture of miscarriage of justice."
Ms. Colloff added that Mr. Graves was 26 when he was arrested and he's leaving prison at age 45. He gets no money from the state of Texas, he has nothing to his name, and he didn't know how to use his attorney's cell phone when he called his mom to let her know that he was being released.
But, Mr. Graves is a free man thanks to journalists like Professor Casarez and her students.
Investigative journalism and a free press are the best safeguards to protect the rights of citizens and the best defense against tyranny.
Those were pretty much Anita Thompson's words to me when I first met her and the energizing conversations continue.