. . .
In an interview, Mr. Scheidegger said that the Hennis case showed the stark difference between a jury’s not finding guilt beyond a reasonable doubt and actual proof of innocence. In the Hennis case, he said, “we have proof that he was a guilty murderer who got away with it, and yet he was on the innocence list.”
Richard C. Dieter, the executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, said in an interview that Mr. Hennis’s name would be removed from the innocence list. But Mr. Dieter defended the list and its name.
Being found “not guilty” is not innocence in the sense of “innocent as a newborn babe,” he said, and “we’ve never said that’s what the innocence list is about.”
I’ve always understood the DPIC to be arguing that their list contained only proven “wrong man” cases — that is, cases in which the wrong person was convicted of a crime he did not commit. If all the DPIC is arguing is that the list contains the names of people who the state failed to prove guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, then it needs to be clear on that point in their future discussions of the death penalty.
Inspired by, but not a report of, the Hennis case and the commentary thereupon, and in appreciation of so many other indignant DPIC stories of "the innocent."
Innocent (archaic) -- Didn't do it.
Innocent (modern) -- Not as "innocent as a newborn babe" but kind of innocent, not in the woden, old fashioned sense, but in the sense that the "alleged" killer was, you know, abused 30 years ago by his long-dead step-father, leading to his inability to form criminal intent notwithstanding that he stabbed the victims 20 or 40 times or something; and which step-father his lawyer would have found out about but for his sleeping through pre-trial preparation, not to mention the trial, leading to reversal for ineffective assistance. So, you see, he was, to the more sophisticated among us, innocent. See also "exonerated."
Innocence list -- A compilation of people who either (a) did it, or (b) didn't do it, not that it matters that much, since the whole point is to conflate the two, so long as much of the media can be relied upon to portray the list as consisting only of (b). See also Roger Keith Coleman, who never made the innocence list but served the same purpose despite his now quietly conceded abject guilt.
Cassell wants to know how these people can be called "innocent". Because this is the United States of America, and in the United States of America, everyone who is not convicted is innocent. Actually, truly, really, 110% innocent.