Latest DNA Exonerees Were Used in Republican Scare Campaign

Two brothers in North Carolina have been freed from prison after three decades because DNA evidence showed that they did not rape and murder a young girl in 1983. This has happened more than 300 times over the last 15 years or so. But the twist here is that these specific two innocent people were used by the Republican party in that state to whip up fear during a campaign.

But in the years before the brothers’ exoneration, the Republican party demonized politicians who sought to ensure justice for McCollum and other potentially innocent black men in death row. A campaign mailer issued by the North Carolina Republican Party in 2010 warned that McCollum “might be moving out of jail and into Your neighborhood sometime soon” because Democratic lawmaker Hugh Holliman voted for a law known as the Racial Justice Act. On the reverse side of the ad was an image of a man wearing a ski mask and holding a crow bar.

The ad called Holliman a “criminal coddler,” depicting Holliman as a dangerous soft-on-crime candidate because he aspired to help those wrongly imprisoned and spare death sentences for the innocent.

The Racial Justice Act, which has since been repealed, allowed inmates to challenge their death sentence if they could show racial bias. In North Carolina, as in the United States overall, blacks are dramatically more likely to face death sentences, sometimes in cases in which raced played an overt role.

But criminal justice reforms to correct false convictions that may pose a more genuine danger to many black men have historically faced a difficult political road, thanks to campaigns like this one that punish views depicted as soft on crime, even by judges. In Oklahoma, legislators moved to impeach several state justices who suspended death sentences using secret lethal injection drugs not regulated by the FDA. Days later, one of those inmates was executed in a prolonged, botched execution in which Clayton Lockett slowly suffocated for 43 minutes. And in South Carolina, the Republican Governors Association ran a vicious political ad against Democratic candidate Vincent Sheheen for representing criminal defendants as a lawyer. The ad alleged that Sheheen, a former prosecutor, “protects criminals not South Carolina.”

Such ads are standard operating procedure for the Republican party and has been for decades. It’s pure demagoguery, using unjustified fear to whip people into a frenzy and get them to vote for you.

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  • colnago80

    You know who else used such demagoguery to scare voters? Frankenberger!

  • John Pieret

    Such ads are standard operating procedure for the Republican party

    Willie Horton anyone?

  • abb3w

    I wonder if the reversal of Holliman’s conviction gives him grounds for a libel suit against the NC-GOP. Probably not, but maybe he can find a lawyer that’s a Democrat who thinks giving the GOP a hard time is pro bono publico.

  • keithb
  • Alverant

    So will those GOPers admit they were wrong or insist the system works (which only “worked” in this case because of liberals, a fact that needs to be acknowledged).

  • http://www.ranum.com Marcus Ranum

    They’re just lucky they weren’t executed!!

  • Ichthyic

    Willie Horton anyone?

    really?

    that’s your counter?

    pardon me while I laugh silly at you.

  • Ichthyic

    seriously, WHO DO YOU THINK GOT MORE TRACTION FROM HORTON?

    Republicans picked up the Horton issue after Dukakis clinched the nomination. In June 1988, Republican candidate George H.W. Bush seized on the Horton case, bringing it up repeatedly in campaign speeches. Bush’s campaign manager, Lee Atwater, said “By the time we’re finished, they’re going to wonder whether Willie Horton is Dukakis’ running mate.”[9]

    yeah, that’s right.

  • generalfactotum

    Why are you assuming he’s using Willie Horton as a counter? My assumption was that it was an example, demonstrating the history of this particular tactic by the GOP.

  • http://www.pandasthumb.org Area Man

    Two brothers in North Carolina have been freed from prison after three decades because DNA evidence showed that they did not rape and murder a young girl in 1983.

    Did they catch the real culprit, Glenn Beck?

  • grumpyoldfart

    …used by the Republican party in that state to whip up fear during a campaign.

    In the home of the brave ?

    .

    Such ads are standard operating procedure for the Republican party and has been for decades.

    Which suggests that the ads work, which suggests that millions of Americans are as fearful (and stupid) as Republican PR men assume them to be.

  • lorn

    In the right-wing morality the calculus is that it is vital that every wrong must see someone punished. It is considerably less important that the one punished be the guilty party.

    This concept was applied to the divine right of kings to allow whipping boys to take the punishment. In some ways it worked pretty well if there was a bond between prince and his whipping boy. If not it, a the very least, it meant the moral balance was maintained because wrongdoing was balance by punishment. Even if the crime and punishment didn’t fall on the same head.

  • Artor

    Colnago80, I guess you’re trying to be ironic by always referring to Hitler as Frankenberger, but it only makes you look like an idiot. Give it up, or embrace the brand.

    “It turns out that all Jews had been expelled from Graz in the 15th century and were not allowed to return until the 1860s; what’s more, so far as can be determined, Maria Schicklgruber never lived in Graz.”

    http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/797/was-hitler-part-jewish

  • colnago80

    Re Artor @ #13

    Hey, sometimes I refer to him as Schicklgruber or Heidler.

  • colnago80

    Re Artor @ #13

    There are a number of problems with the article linked to. In the first place, it assumes that the Frankenberger family was Jewish. They could well have been Catholic converts, which would make no difference relative to the Nuremberg laws. The other problem is that the identity of Alois father is unknown. The line indicating identity of his father on his birth certificate is blank. He was christened Alois Schicklgruber and was later adopted by Johann Heidler who married Maria Schicklgruber well after Alois birth. He adopted the surname Heidler, later changed to Hitler. Alois biological father could have been Leopold Frankenberger, Johann Heidler, or some other individual; there is no evidence one way of the other.

    Another argument that has been raised is that there is no record of a Frankenberger family in Graz at that time. However, it is known that, after the Anschulss, Adolf had all the records in Graz destroyed, which would explain why there is no record of a Frankenberger family.

    The bottom line of all of this is that there is no evidence as to the paternity of Alois Frankenberger, nee Schicklgruber nee Heidler, nee Hitler.