Hear this here…
EXIT 17 I-95n to SR 301 (The Blue Star Highway) near Jarrat, Virginia
On your left to the north, is the Greensville Correctional Center, a Virginia state run prison. Obviously, if you exit onto State Road 301, aka the Blue Star Highway, you would be traveling in the trail of many condemned men. But this trail of tears sometimes is also a road to redemption.
Do you remember John Allen Muhammad - known as the “Beltway Sniper”? In October 2002, Muhammad along with his seventeen year old accomplice, Lee Boyd Malvo, carried out the Beltway sniper attacks. Using a sniper’s rifle and his US Army training, Muhammad arbitrarily shot at cars driving along highways around the nation’s capital city.
The duo even rigged the trunk of a sedan so they could shoot out the rear from inside. In all, Muhammad killed 17 people. He was executed here at Greensville in 2009.
A more redemptive story concerning Greensville is a story related by Maria Glod of the Washington Post. According to the Post:
“On March 21, 2011, a Virginia man who prosecutors say was wrongly convicted walked out of prison after spending 27-years behind bars.
Thomas Haynesworth was an 18-year-old high school dropout when he was locked up for a series of 1984 rapes and other attacks in Richmond.
Shortly after being released he celebrated his 46th birthday. Said Haynesworth, “This is the best birthday. Nothing can compare to this.” Haynesworth left the Greensville Correctional Center surrounded by his mother, sisters and other family. He carried his television and one trashbag full of belongings. “It’s been a long journey,” Haynesworth said. “I missed a lot, reflecting back on what I could have had.”
DNA testing exonerated him. The case was brought to the attention of Virginia’s Attorney General, Ken Cuccinelli, a hardline law-enforcement Republican and former state senator. Cuccinelli began examining the case, covering a wall in his office with evidence. Late in the evening a few weeks after their initial meeting, Cuccinelli called one of his staff and declared, "This man is innocent. We need to get him out of prison as soon as possible. When can we do it?" Cuccinelli later said, "It was a complex decision, but it wasn't a hard decision." He also said, "It's hard to describe how painful it is to me that somebody would suffer what he has."
Using technology that was not available in the 1980s, authorities tested the DNA collected from a January 1984 rape for which Haynesworth was convicted. The results cleared him and implicated a convicted rapist named Leon Davis.
In a case, which The Washington Post called "one of the state's most extraordinary legal cases” , it set a precedent that promises a brighter tomorrow for unfairly accused citizens. New state laws now allow convicts to present new evidence in cases to prove innocence. Virginia’s General Assembly passed a bill in 2012 to pay Haynesworth compensation for his lengthy incarceration, amounting to a total of $1 million in a lump sum payment, two types of annuities, and tuition at a community college. The legislators wanted to help him make his way in his life.
Today Thomas Haynesworth is something of a celebrity. His story is now one of many featured in Netflix’s new true crime documentary series, The Innocence Files. The series follows the efforts of the Innocence Project, the famed nonprofit dedicated to exonerating those who’ve been wrongfully convicted of crimes.
Ken Cuccinelli said that the case was a reminder to him and to prosecutors that "the system isn't perfect, and neither are we.”
Good Luck Mr Haynesworth. And thanks Mr Cuccinelli. A truer statement was never heard.
#KenCuccinelli #ThomasHaynesworth #GreensvilleCorrectional #Netflix #TheInnocenceProject