Notes from around the Human Experience…
YEAH, YEAH, WHATEVER: One of the things the past couple of decades has desensitized us Americans to – besides war, of course – is the release from prison of those who have served time, sometimes very long stretches of time, for crimes it was later shown they didn’t actually commit.
Running The Numbers: We were shocked at the first few releases of people who had served 20 years for crimes they didn’t commit. Twenty years! That’s a long time.
Now, 20 years of being wrongly imprisoned barely gets you noticed because the number of years served by the innocent before being released kept inching up to 25, 26, 27 years and the past few years introduced us to black males who had served over 30 years for something they didn’t do.
The New Heavyweight Champion Of The World: Like Bob Beamon obliterating the long jump world record by 21 inches at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, Cleve Heidelberg of Illinois has obliterated all previous marks. Heidelberg’s 1970 murder conviction was vacated last month, and he was released on bond earlier this week after 47 years in prison.
Now, it is important to note Heidelberg was not exonerated, he was granted a new trial and is out on bond while prosecutors decide whether to try him again or not.
They may not. It has never been particularly difficult to get an all-white jury to convict a black man of killing a white policeman and it might have been even easier in 1970. Not only that, someone confessed to the crime in 1971, about the time Heidelberg was sentenced, which was the basis of his conviction being vacated.
Don’t Even Start: We are mindful that now no one stands convicted of the murder of Peoria County Sheriff’s Sgt. Raymond Espinoza. We don’t like that anymore than you do.
Heidelberg is 75 now, the best years of his life gone. He does seem to have his faculties, in addition to heart disease, though perhaps he can do something useful with the rest of his time on this planet.
The Department of the Innocent: Why our government doesn’t have an entire cabinet department dedicated to freeing the innocent is beyond us. More and more, innocent people are released from prison, enough people to show this isn’t a fluke: America’s judicial system makes a habit of sending people to prison for crimes they did not commit. This should cause every American to go and hang their head in shame.
Gaylon For Congress…Vote Early, Vote Often: This is not an issue that is on most American’s radar, however. We mentioned it during our 2014 campaign for the United States Senate and it was one of our four focal points when we ran for the US House of Representatives last year, but it drew little interest frankly.
The Bottom Line: It should draw a lot of interest and be on everyone’s radar. Convicting the innocent has no place in a nation conceived in liberty.
ON THIS DATE: The Chrysler Building in New York City, opens on this date in 1930. At 1,046 feet is the tallest man-made structure in the world, a title it will hold until the Empire State Building opens the following year.
Dry, Technical Matter: The Chrysler Building is now the 89th tallest building in the world.
Great Moments In Connecting San Francisco And Marin County: The Golden Gate Bridge opens to pedestrians on this date in 1937. It would open to vehicles the following day.
The bonds financing the bridge were paid off in 1971. The total was $79 million, $35 million in principal and $39 million in interest. The entire amount was paid from bridge tolls.
FunFact: Thought the Golden Gate Bridge appears red, it is actually a shade of international orange, roughly the same color as most life preservers.
How About A Bloody Torpedo Off The Port Bow, Governor?: The German battleship Bismarck is sunk by British warships about 350 miles off the coast of France on this date in 1941.
Two days earlier Bismarck had been damaged and had flooded during the Battle of the Denmark Strait and she was headed to France, which Germany occupied for repairs.
LOL: The British had actually lost contact with Bismarck and only found her when her captain broke radio silence to communicate with German headquarters.
Good Show, Mateys: Bismarck and her crew could take a hit. There were airstrikes from torpedo bombers and shelling from battleships before Bismarck finally went down. The final blow was from a torpedo from HMS Rodney.
Long Live The Master Race: Out of a crew of 2,200, only 114 survived.
Insert Your Own Lead Line Here! Michael Fortier, an accomplice in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, is sentenced to 12 years in prison on this date in 1998. Fortier had helped Timothy McVeigh scout out the Oklahoma City federal building and in exchange for snitching on McVeigh and Terry Nichols, Fortier was given a reduced sentence and immunity from prosecution for his wife, who had laminated the fake driver’s license McVeigh used to rent the truck used during the attack.
FunFact: Fortier was released from prison in 2006 and is now in the federal witness protection program, so he might well be your neighbor. McVeigh was executed in 2001, while Nichols is serving multiple life sentences without the possibility of parole.
Thought For The Day: People are more disposed to suffer than right themselves by resistance. – John Locke
Answer To The Last Trivia Question: There was not a trivia question last time!
Today’s Stumper: What building did the Chrysler Building replace as the tallest building in the world? Answer next time!