Death Row: Where Minorities Go After False Convictions

Ephrom Josine
6 min readMay 13, 2022

Toforest Johnson has been on death row since 1998 due to his conviction of murdering a sheriff in his home state of Alabama. Just two days ago, an Alabama court of appeals ruled against Johnson and forced him to remain on death row instead of getting a new trial.

The evidence he was convicted on is laughable, it is primarily based on alleged eye witness testimony from somebody who admitted they lied at first for money and then later to be kept out of jail. The fact that said witness was paid five thousand dollars by the state of Alabama for her testimony was also not disclosed until 2019. Meanwhile, Johnson’s eye witness who says that he was at a nightclub that night — who has neither admitted to lying nor who took payment from the state for his testimony — is not seen as creditable.

Even the prosecutors for this case have since admitted the evidence was terrible and that Johnson deserves a retrial, yet the Alabama Supreme Court will not give him one, Alabama’s Governor will not grant him one, and Alabama’s Attorney General will not drop the case.

This is not to be confused with the story of Melissa Lucio, whose story got national attention earlier this year. In 2007, Melissa Lucio was arrested for the death of her two year old daughter Mariah Alvarez. While interrogated over the course of seven hours, with these interrogations starting just two hours after her daughter died, she declared her innocence over one hundred times — but one thing she said could have vaguely been seen as a confession, so she was convicted and sentenced to death.

Most of the evidence shows that the death of Lucio’s daughter was most likely an accident caused by the child — no evidence has been found that she had abused any of her other children (although her children were once removed from her custody due to a cocaine addiction that she had recovered from by the time of her daughter’s death), so intentionally killing any of her children seems highly out of character. The District Attorney that convicted her, Armando Villalobos, has also since been arrested and is currently serving a prison sentence for bribery and extortion.

Neither of these people are to be confused with Anthony Ray Hinton, a man from Alabama who was wrongly convicted of the murder of…

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Ephrom Josine

Political Commentator; Follow My Twitter: @EphromJosine1