Many innocent people are sitting in prison with convictions for crimes they did not commit. This is often due to prosecutors who blatantly ignore information that might point away from their chosen suspect. Much of the time, these other leads could have exonerated an innocent prisoner, but they go totally disregarded.
This is a clear case of tunnel vision on the part of the prosecution. When such tunnel vision sets in, it leads to errors and even to corruption. Evidence begins to get lost or is deliberately suppressed from the defense. Witnesses testify falsely or change their original testimony. Witness intimidation by prosecutors keeps the truth from coming out about the wrongfully accused. In some situations, prosecutors give witnesses everything from financial assistance to deals in pending criminal cases. And let's not leave out how defense witnesses are constantly threatened with bogus charges if they don't recant testimony that is favorable to the defense.
I was wrongfully charged and convicted of first-degree murder without an eyewitness. When I received a portion of my case discovery, I found out not only that the police had an eyewitness who saw the murder occur, but that this same witness actually identified the people he saw commit this crime. The police never did any further investigation. This is the kind of tunnel vision that I'm talking about. Now, 19 years later, my legal team has just recovered more missing pages from my case discovery. We found out that the chief witness in my case was originally labeled a suspect in the same crime for which I was convicted.
I'm one of many people suffering from these unjust tactics. We all know that once one lie is told, the only way for that lie to hold weight is if it's supported by more lies. In some of our cases, unfortunately, it takes decades to uncover these falsehoods. It's especially sad that, even when these practices start coming to light, these same prosecutors stand by these convictions.
You might think that when new prosecutors take over for the old ones, we might get a chance of justice in our cases. But instead of doing what's right, the prosecutors who inherit our cases ignore what their predecessors have done. Instead of fighting for justice, they fight to honor their office and maintain our wrongful convictions. By them taking this type of stand, they continue the malicious prosecution and act in concert with corrupt officials. If you're an officer of the court and you turn a blind eye to injustice, your actions are just as corrupt as those of the counterparts you're protecting or assisting.
Finally, it's important to remember that in many cases, detectives' and prosecutors' tunnel vision leads to the fabrication of evidence to wrongfully convict many innocent people. This is evident not only in my case--the alarming rate of exonerations across the country shows that this is a widespread problem. It's an epidemic being swept under the rug. Prosecutorial tunnel vision and misconduct have been going on so long that they are deeply rooted in our judicial system. But it's not too late to change that--my life and the lives of many other innocent prisoners depend on it.
Lorenzo Johnson served 16 and a half years of a life-without-parole sentence, from 1995 to 2012, when the Third Circuit Federal Court of Appeals ruled there was legally insufficient evidence for his conviction. He remained free for four months, after which the US Supreme Court unanimously reinstated the conviction and ordered Lorenzo back to prison to resume the sentence. With the help of Michael Wiseman, Esq., The Pennsylvania Innocence Project The Jeffrey Deskovic Foundation for Justice, The Campaign to Free Lorenzo Johnson, and others, he is continuing to fight for his freedom. Email him or sign his petition and learn more at: http://www.freelorenzojohnson.org/sign-the-petition.html.