By Fr. Kevin McKenna
The Democrat & Chronicle featured in its September 22nd edition the exoneration of a man who had served 27 years in prison for a homicide he did not commit. Rochester attorney Donald Thompson had spent nearly twenty years attempting to prove the innocence of Valentino Dixon. Thompson’s efforts were assisted by the work of the Erie County DA’s office and a unit established to revisit questionable convictions. Although this exoneration did not utilize DNA proof, it is reported that 250 persons nationwide have been exonerated by DNA evidence. Pope Francis recently expanded the Catholic Church’s teaching on the death penalty, calling it inadmissible and stating that there is no justification for state-sponsored executions. Stories like that of Valentino Dixon and 250 DNA exonerations amply demonstrate why.