An innocent man released from death row after 23 years
Walter Ogrod, who has spent 23 years on death row following his conviction of a murder he did not commit, has had his conviction overturned and left prison a free man. Mr Ogrod – who is on the autistic spectrum – initially confessed to the crime but his lawyers argued that he was coerced into making this confession, and he has since protested his innocence. His first trial ended in an 11 to 1 verdict to acquit and a mistrial, but in his second trial he was convicted on ‘jailhouse hearsay’ and sentenced to death. Note: Pennsylvania has been cited by the DPIC as having the fifth largest number of inmates on death row in the US, but has conducted only 3 executions since 1976.
Walter Ogrod’s case is impossibly tragic, James Rollins, one of Ogrod’s attorneys, said in a statement after the hearing:
This innocent man and his family lost almost 30 years that they should have spent together. Instead, that irreplaceable time together is gone, lost to a system that keeps making the same mistakes. The Intercept 5 June 2020
Amnesty is opposed to the use of the death penalty in all circumstances and this example illustrates how a miscarriage of justice could have led to an innocent man being executed. There are many similar examples in the USA which is the only country in the Americas to retain the penalty.
In the UK, there are many who would like to bring back the death penalty. A YouGov poll three years ago found that 58% of those polled were in favour of the penalty for terrorist acts; 57% for multiple murders and 53% for murder of a child. Overall, 45% were opposed for all cases of murder and 34% in favour. The abolition of the penalty was recently celebrated. Walter Ogrod is an example of how a mistake cannot be rectified once a person has been executed.
Source; The Guardian; The Intercept