A record 149 people were exonerated in 2015 bringing the total to 1730 exonerated since 1989.
I came across this article last week, and I think it’s something that should be front and center for this presidential election campaign season. Unfortunately, it’s not.
Exonerations hit record in U.S. as wrongful convictions become a ‘regular’ problem via Yahoo News Digest
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I know the justice system isn’t perfect, and it hasn’t been applied perfectly in the past. Sometimes, I wonder if these “few” exonerations are simply just the ones that are easy to prove. No innocent person should be forced to serve time for a crime they didn’t commit. At the same time, a guilty person shouldn’t be free to roam the streets.
I’ve long thought that the justice system is not the arbiter of innocence or guilt. It’s simply the arbiter of who can best prove their case. There are times when it’s quite easy to prove innocence in today’s time. You can use DNA, video evidence, or other things to prove a person didn’t commit a crime. Things were not always that easy. Those things that can prove innocence can also easily prove guilt.
I’m sure people wonder why minorities have distrust for law enforcement and the legal system, and when you can average exonerating a person every 2.5 days within a year, it’s not hard to understand. It’s not just minorities that get screwed over by the system either. If you can’t afford a good lawyer, your chances are not going to be good of defending yourself in court. It doesn’t matter whether you’re Black or White when you don’t have the green to help your case.
The “Making a Murderer” documentary has put this back in the spotlight for a minute. I haven’t followed the case of Steven Avery or watched the documentary, but I see nothing wrong with reviewing cases where there may be evidence to prove someone’s innocence. Given that some of the exonerated from last year were on death row, it may be a lifesaver to some people if their cases are reviewed.
The one thing I would like to see happen on top of the exonerations is a review of those responsible for locking up innocent people. If it’s found that the prosecutors, or even law enforcement, have broken the law or knowingly set up a person they knew was innocent, they should have to face some type of review of their work themselves. If they have a pattern of abuse like that, then they should face the repercussions of their actions and be punished accordingly.
The veracity of our justice system depends on the honesty and integrity of the entire process. If the honesty and integrity is in question, then so is the system of justice. Without the honesty and integrity, there is no justice.