"Don't ever give up because, I mean, it's never over," Porter said. "As long as you're breathing, just keep fighting."
In January of this year, Allen Porter was released from prison after serving 19 years for a rape he did not commit. He was arrested while attending his nephew's trial for the same crime; A witness who saw him at the court house said Porter looked like one of the attackers, even though all three had worn masks. His fingerprints were not found at the crime scene. Porter was convicted in 1991, and sentenced to life in prison.
Six years ago, DNA testing was done. While the tests done in 2005 did not prove that Porter had participated in the crime, neither were they enough to free him. The test they did was exclusionary; that means they tested a big wad of bodily fluids for one specific person's DNA and if it didn't show up, that person was not part of whatever particular activity produced the sample. During a trial, being 'excluded' by DNA evidence can be a huge hurdle for prosecutors to overcome, unless they have another way of proving that the person was there. But if the DNA is not tested until after the conviction, the person still has to find a way to prove that they weren't there, effectively proving their innocence. In Porter's case, his nephew and one of the other men who participated in the crime told police that Allen Porter was not involved. Apparently, this didn't do jack shit for him. He remained in prison.
Finally, two years ago, Porter wrote a letter to District Attorney Pat Lykos. She sent his case to the Post Conviction Review team. They found two new exculpatory witnesses (presumably Porter's nephew and his partner in crime) and the DA's office recommended he be freed.
I chose this case to post today so that you can see that letters do make a difference. There are a lot of internet petitions out there claiming that if they just get x number of signatures, Carlos Coy will be free. While signing one may be easy and make us feel like we've accomplished something, it's not true. I don't ask people to 'like' the Facebookpage or subscribe to the blog or follow me on Twitter because I know those numbers don't mean shit. I would rather have one person read the blog and share what they've learned with a friend than get 10,000 'likes' on Facebook from people that didn't bother to study the information.
We can't change the system without understanding how it works, and what works is contacting the officials involved. Bureaucracy moves slowly and that is extremely frustrating, but we can't give up. A small, sustained campaign of letters will have more long term effect than one massive demonstration (although one of those would help). Keep writing, and remember that there's someone in the DA's office that's working to give justice to the falsely convicted.