Martens was interviewed near the one-year anniversary of the exoneration of Raymond Flanks, who served 39 years in prison after being wrongly convicted of murder and sentenced in 1985 to life at hard labor without the possibility of parole at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola. Martens recently appeared on a panel with Flanks at the Evangelical Theological Society’s annual meeting in San Antonio.
Martens, a Southern Baptist and author of the recently published book “Reforming Criminal Justice: A Christian Proposal,” says the United States has lost its commitment to accuracy in criminal justice, with thousands serving sentences for crimes they didn’t commit, many of whom are sentenced to death.
Two of the contributing factors to this problem are a failure to properly fund defense counsel for the poor and a lack of discipline imposed on police and prosecutors who act unjustly in their administration of justice.
To change the system, people must vote differently, Martens said.
“Criminal justice is one of the few issues on which you can be a single-issue voter,” Martens said. “Your local district attorney isn’t running on welfare policy or foreign relations or on the federal budget. Your local district attorney is running for election on one issue, which is criminal justice. It’s a unique opportunity to be a one-issue voter in what is a one-issue election.”
Martens also encourages citizens to become informed about their DA’s positions and track record regarding false convictions and to view jury service as an opportunity to be a part of administering justice.
Pictured: Raymond Flanks (left) with Matt Martens (right)