Los Angeles Times

The truth should set you free


Re “L.A. man ruled ‘factually innocent’ of killing,” March 3

Maurice Hastings lost what for some people is a lifetime, languishin­g in prison for 38 years for a crime he didn’t commit. There is no amount of money that can make up for that incalculab­le loss.

The data on the numbers of wrongfully incarcerat­ed — mostly Black men — are staggering. The 2017 documentar­y film “Long Shot” details one case where both law enforcemen­t and an overly zealous prosecutor were determined to convict an innocent man of a crime that video evidence showed he couldn’t possibly have committed.

What we owe Hastings is a deeply felt, full and total commitment to the reformatio­n of the criminal justice system, so that police investigat­ions and trials are about finding the truth, not just closing cases and adding victory notches to prosecutor­s’ belts.

Teresa DeCrescenz­o Studio City

When L.A. County Dist. Atty. George Gascón said that Hastings “survived a nightmare,” I would have liked for some mention that more than half of that nightmare was because the office Gascón now leads refused Hastings’ request to retest the DNA evidence.

Your article should have mentioned the district attorney whose office first refused that test. It was Gil Garcetti who, after losing the O.J. Simpson trial a few years earlier, might not have wanted another black mark on his office.

The district attorney’s office deserves zero credit for freeing Hastings. It routinely refuses requests to retest DNA. It is the work of the Innocence Project that overcomes prosecutor­s’ refusals and eventually frees the wrongfully convicted.

Daniel Saks Los Gatos, Calif.

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