Crabgrass Outbreak

Campaign Desk does its best to get inside the news cycle and root out the weeds, but sometimes it takes more than one dose of Weed-B-Gone.

Such is the case with the reporting on Sen. John Kerry’s response to a question during a late February debate about whether the death penalty was appropriate for a person who kills a five year old. Kerry responded: “[W]e have 111 people who have been now released from death row … because of DNA evidence that showed they didn’t commit the crime of which they were convicted.”

The next day several major newspapers ran stories without questioning the statement’s validity. And today The Chicago Tribune is guilty of the same sin. As we pointed out then, according to the non-profit Death Penalty Information Center, 113 people have been released from death row since 1973. But in only 13 of those cases did DNA evidence play a significant factor in the prisoner’s release.

It’s a tough weed, but we here at Landscapes by CJR are a patient lot, and we’ve stocked up on Weed-B-Gone for the duration.


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Thomas Lang was a writer at CJR Daily.