Jacob Blake, an African American man, was shot in the back and seriously injured by police in Wisconsin in front of three of his young sons last month. Sadly, news like this is not infrequent, and is always depressing for Willie Manning. Willie is in full agreement with Blake’s lawyer, Ben Crump, who declares,
“There are two justice systems in America – one for black Americans and one for white Americans, and we’re fighting for equal justice for all Americans… We have to have our leaders lead on this.”
From his own cases, Willie has good reason to believe that the two justice systems include the death penalty that has overshadowed his own life.
Fortunately, to help offset the depressing news from Wisconsin, there has been encouraging news from Mississippi’s own death row: Willie’s fellow inmate, Eddie Lee Howard, has been granted a new trial (bite mark evidence that was central in convicting him has since been discredited).
Howard entered death row shortly before Willie, and was prosecuted by the same District Attorney as Willie, the notorious Forrest Allgood. As Allgood was voted out of office in 2015, it will be his reformist successor, Scott Colom, who must now decide whether to drop the charges against Howard, given the new evidence and court findings, or whether to seek a new trial.
Tucker Carrington of the Mississippi Innocence Project echoes Willie’s feelings as the decision is awaited:
“It’s now time to bring this case to an end, and to close another door on a disastrous era of injustice in this state”.