Letters: Prosecutor's Apology, Academic Fraud At UNC NPR's Audie Cornish and Robert Siegel read comments from listeners about a prosecutor's apology to the man he helped put away decades ago and the University of North Carolina's academic fraud scheme.
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Letters: Prosecutor's Apology, Academic Fraud At UNC

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Letters: Prosecutor's Apology, Academic Fraud At UNC

Letters: Prosecutor's Apology, Academic Fraud At UNC

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Time now for your letters. Yesterday, we told you about a story of regret 30 years in the making. In 1984, Marty Stroud prosecuted Glenn Ford for the murder of a jeweler in Shreveport, La. Ford was convicted and sent to death row. After spending three decades in prison, Ford was found innocent and released last year. He's now seeking compensation from the state. Marty Stroud recently wrote a letter supporting Mr. Ford's efforts for compensation to The Shreveport Times. He also apologized.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

MARTY STROUD: I believe it's a horror story from beginning to end, and I played a part in that. I would ask for his forgiveness. However, if he did not offer forgiveness, I really couldn't blame him.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Many of you commended Mr. Stroud for his courage to come forward and for his humility. Michael Kroll of Oakland, Calif. writes (reading) your obvious remorse makes a point about the death penalty that hardly ever gets made. It devastates those who impose it and carry it out as it devastates entire families on both sides of the glass. Your acts, honestly undertaken or not, not only devastated the life of Mr. Ford and those that love him, but have also devastated you.

CORNISH: Sherman Greene of New York City adds this (reading) it's good that Mr. Stroud has the courage and the honesty to admit his mistake and apologize, and I commend him for it. His apology seems sincere, which is rare nowadays. But I can't help thinking about all the innocent people who spend years - in this case, 30 years - behind bars for crimes they didn't commit.

SIEGEL: Also, yesterday we heard from Jay Smith and Mary Willingham, the co-authors of "Cheated," a book that details the University of North Carolina's massive academic fraud scheme and its cover-up. Willingham says student athletes were enrolled in paper classes, which amounted to almost no work.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

MARY WILLINGHAM: They would then go to the library or, with our assistance, just cut and paste from online material or we would put something up on the screen that they would copy and then they would just turn it in. No one really ever read them, and they were always graded A or B.

SIEGEL: Amy Overbay of Stanley, N.C., says the issue is complicated. She writes this (reading) obviously, student athletes do bear some responsibility, but the larger institution and our general cultural obsession with sports is to blame. Except for a few walk-ons, to make it onto a college playing field, and especially at a school like UNC, requires years of supreme dedication to your sport.

Ms. Overbay goes on to say this (reading) for many of these students and their communities, this is the only route they see to success. It may be myopic. It may be misguided, but to be an eligible player at a top school is, to them, a winning lottery ticket that absolutely must not be squandered.

CORNISH: Thanks to everyone who wrote in, and please keep sending those letters. You can write to us at NPR.org. Click on contact at the bottom of the page.

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