#6 Anything but Evidence: Circumstance as Proof


My name is Sarah and I am a student at Butler University. I am studying Middle/Secondary Education and Spanish. In this class, I have studied various Hoosier prisoners and the effects of the prison industrial system in the United States throughout history.

Description of Podcast

This episode focuses on the problems with convicting innocent people, and relying or circumstantial evidence to put a person behind bars. In this episode, the two prisoners discussed are Joseph W. Plew of the late 1800s and early 1900s, and Kevin Cooper  of present day. Both men were convicted of crimes that they claimed to be innocent of, fought/are still fighting for their freedom. This podcast episode also lays out how these convictions can affect not only those sentenced, but anyone involved in the case, along with the problems within the U.S. justice system that allow for these things to happen.

Joseph Plew was convicted of the murder of Henry Durham and his child, and was accused of also attacking Mrs. Durham. He spent almost 50 years in prison before being released. There is little evidence in the case, and while Plew was found guilty and identified as such during the trial, he was later thought of to be innocent.

Kevin Cooper has been sitting on death row for 30 years on four counts of murder, and one count of attempted murder. While Cooper has been convicted of crimes in the past, he remains stern in the fact that he is innocent of the murders. The evidence presented in court during the trial in the 1980s has since been found to be planted and tampered with. Cooper is still awaiting further DNA testing that could prove his innocence.

Sources: (MLA)

Alexander, Michelle. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. The New Press, 2012.

Barbaro, Michael. “Listen to ‘The Daily’: Was Kevin Cooper Framed for Murder?” The New York Times, The New York Times, 30 May 2018, www.nytimes.com/2018/05/30/podcasts/the-daily/kevin-cooper-death-row.html.

Barone, Emily. “Exonerations: Falsely Accused Freed at Highest Rates.” Time.com, Time, time.com/wrongly-convicted/.

BBC Sound Effects Archive Resource • Research & Education Space, BBC, bbcsfx.acropolis.org.uk/.

Dee Yan-Key. “Dark Days.” 28 Oct. 2018, freemusicarchive.org/music/Dee_Yan-Key/years_and_years_ago/10–Dee_Yan-Key-Dark_Days.

DeLucco, Mary Kate. “Voices: Kevin Cooper.” Death Penalty Focus, 31 May 2018, deathpenalty.org/blog/voices-kevin-cooper/.

“DNA Exonerations in the United States.” Innocence Project, www.innocenceproject.org/dna-exonerations-in-the-united-states/.

Galliani, Michelle, et al. “’They Framed Me’: On Death Row for Decades, Kevin Cooper Pushes for New DNA Tests in Chino Hills Murders.” Los Angeles Times, 8 July 2018, www.innocenceproject.org/dna-exonerations-in-the-united-states/

Gross, Samuel R. “The Staggering Number of Wrongful Convictions in America.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 24 July 2015, www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-cost-of-convicting-the-innocent/2015/07/24/260fc3a2-1aae-11e5-93b7-5eddc056ad8a_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.6c910c57529b.

“Kevin Cooper (Prisoner).” Wikepedia, 10 Nov. 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kevin_Cooper_(prisoner)#Chino_Hills_murders_and_arrest.

“Joseph Plew The Murderer.” Newspapers.com, The Philadelphia Inquirer, 17 Feb. 1887, www.newspapers.com/clip/1324036/joseph_plew_the_murderer/.

“MANY ASK FOR CLEMENCY OF STATE PARDON BOARD.” Indianapolis Star (1907-1922), Jan 09 1911, p. 7. ProQuest. Web. 10 Dec. 2018 . https://search.proquest.com/docview/756430139?accountid=9807

Marx, Karl, and David F. Greenberg. “On Capital Punishment: Readings in Marxist Criminology.” Crime and Capitalism, Temple University Press, pp. 55–56.

“SEEK PAROLE FOR PLEW.” The Indianapolis Morning Star (1903-1907), Jul 27 1905, p. 5. ProQuest. Web. 10 Dec. 2018 . https://search.proquest.com/docview/751512745?accountid=9807

Special to The, Indianapolis S. “TRUSTY MAKES PLEA FOR PRISON RELEASE.” Indianapolis Star (1907-1922), Aug 08 1913, p. 4. ProQuest. Web. 10 Dec. 2018 . https://search.proquest.com/hnpindianapolisstarshell/docview/755704749/B72BF0ACCB04298PQ/1?accountid=9807

Prison Lifer Statement: Joseph W Plew, No. 30 (Indiana State Archives)