The happiest man on death row
September 25, 2012 1:50 AM Subscribe
Joe Arridy didn't ask for a last meal. It's doubtful that he even understood the concept.An article (one page print version) in Denver Westword News by Alan Prendergast recounts the life of Joe Arridy (1915 - 1939), his conviction and execution and Robert Perske's later investigation of the case. Perske has documented many cases of innocent people with mental disabilities being coerced into confessions, and he considers the case of Joe Arridy the most telling.
Perske learned about Joe Arridy and his execution in 1992, over 50 years after the fact, by the way of a poem in an out of print book: Marguerite Young, "The Clinic." (Moderate Fable, New York, Reynal & Hitchcock, 1944.) It is reproduced on the Friends of Joe Arridy web pages.
Robert Perske's book Deadly Innocence? came out in 1995 and it led to the founding of Friends of Joe Arridy, who would eventually successfully petition for Joe Arridy's innocence and result in the 41st Governor of Colorado, Bill Ritter, granting him a post-humous pardon.
Pardoning Mr. Arridy cannot undo this tragic event in Colorado history. It is in the interests of justice and simple decency, however, to restore his good name. - Governor RitterColorado Lawyer, Gail L. Ireland, fought a long legal battle trying to overturn Joe Arridy's conviction. His granddaughter, Terri Bradt, has written his biography. The Introduction is available on the web.
The Wikipedia page for Joe Arridy contains links to some on-line newspaper archives having stories from the time and a few more recent news articles.
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