Melissa Lucio’s Stay of Execution and The Innocence Project

Melissa Lucio, the first Hispanic woman to be sentenced to death, was to be executed on April 27 of this year. It was news to most then that last Monday April 25, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals approved a stay of execution

Lucio, a 51-year-old Rio-Grande native, was at home on February 15, 2007, when her young daughter tragically fell down the stairs, dying from her injuries before reaching the hospital. Lucio, who was pregnant at the time and grieving the loss of her young daughter was detained by police who questioned the woman for hours, berating and physically threatening her, until they extracted a confession: Lucio admitted to pushing her young daughter down the stairs, murdering her

The problem? Lucio is a domestic abuse victim–the demographic most likely to deliver confessions to crimes they didn’t commit, and the grieving, pregnant woman delivered a confession under extreme emotional duress, and only offered a confession after she was lied to and told she could go home if she admitted it. 

The problem of abusive interrogation is not a new one in the U.S. and Latina women are more likely to be abused and mistreated during an interrogation than other demographics. In fact, the district attorney who convicted her is currently in prison for taking bribes and extorting defendants. Still, Lucio was convicted and sentenced to death.  

When her execution was only a few days away, Lucio was granted a stay of execution, and a chance to prove her innocence, with the help of the Innocence Project. The Innocence Project is a nonprofit legal organization made up of lawyers seeking to restore justice on cases that were overlooked. Their work has led to the exoneration of hundreds of people across the U.S., and one of the main ways they do this is through crowdsourced calling campaigns. By signing up for the Innocence Project texting list, you can be informed of when the organization needs you to call to help secure someone’s freedom or life. You are provided with a rough script, and the whole process takes maybe a minute. I’ve been signed up for about a year now, and it is a great way to have a direct effect on justice in this country. 

If you would like to join their mailing list, the link is provided below.