First of all, having the opportunity to listen to Darrell Cannon’s first hand experience was very beneficial. I really value his courage to reflect on such horrible memories and speak about them to a group of people. This was/is clearly a tragedy. No doubt about it. Not only did he lose 24 years of his life, but he was tortured and lost everything that had meaning to him. I can’t even begin to imagine what he is going through.
During his presentation I could not help but wonder how in the world a jury convicted him. Since he confessed because of being tortured, why wasn’t the confession inadmissible? His attorney could not have proved that he the confession was coerced? I’m sure that the answers to these questions only emphasis the flaws in the system. Darrell mentioned that the prosecution did not have any witnesses again him, so did they base the conviction solely on the confession?
I also found the actions of the parole board very flawed. They constantly refused to grant him parole, yet the state’s attorneys office worked out a deal with him. Again, flaws in the system. In my opinion, in order for the criminal justice system to work efficiently, all of its members must be on the same page. If they’re not, like in Darrell’s situation, it’ll be chaotic.
Finally, I think that Darrell’s descriptions and thoughts of Tamms Correctional Center allowed me to realize how awful of a place it really is. At one point Darrell said, “Tamms is not for humans.” When he said this, I could not help but wonder how he survived and stayed sane for the nine years he was confined there. He mentioned that people around him were going crazy and allowing the institution to “break” them. But Darrell also told us that there were some positives to his experience. For instance, some of the guards were friendly. Although this is a minor detail, I think that it shows Darrell’s credibility and honesty.
This really was an eye opening experience. I can’t help but think about those who were wrongly convicted and are currently in prison, with no way out.