Junk Justice and Okie Science
Oklahoma is a 'Law and Order State'. Being tough on crime is not a bad thing in and of itself but problems arise when the law is applied unequally, unjustly or innocent persons are convicted of crimes which they did not commit. Oklahoma has a knack for each of these failings.
No reference to the criminal justice system in Oklahoma would be complete without coverage of the Joyce Gilchrist Scandal. Joyce Gilchrist worked in the Oklahoma City Police Department Crime Lab for over twenty years, ultimately rising to the position of Director of that facility. Unfortunately her flawed and/or false testimony helped put several innocent persons behind bars, in some cases for many years. To this day she maintains she was 'just doing her job'.
Jeffrey Todd Pierce was one of the innocent persons Joyce Gilchrist helped put in prison. He spent fifteen years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Mr. Pierce's story is one you should not miss as it details just how much a family can lose when law enforcement abuses the very laws and Constitution they are sworn to uphold. Mr. Pierce was the first of several innocent men released as the the Joyce Gilchrist Scandal swept over Oklahoma.
Ronald Keith Williamson and Dennis Leon Fritz were falsely convicted of a crime neither man committed. Mr. Fritz was sentenced to life in prison. Mr. Williamson was sentenced to death. Williamson came within five days of execution. He was saved only by an appeal filed on the behalf of Mr. Fritz as Williamson's appeals had been exhausted. Every court which had reviewed Williamson's false conviction upheld it condemning him to an unjust death. Ultimately the DA's 'star witness' against both men, a long time felon, was subsequently tried, convicted and sentenced. Williamson and Fritz spent 11 years in Oklahoma prisons, with Williamson's time spent on 'death row' where his mental heath was compromised.
David Johns Bryson was another 'victim' of Joyce Gilchrist. He spent 17 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. For two years after the appeals court over-turned Bryson's false conviction the Oklahoma County District Attorney's maintained he committed the crime and this in spite of DNA testing proving he did not. Ultimately the DA's office finally dropped all charges against Mr. Bryson letting him move on with his shattered life.