Thursday, March 12, 2009

You are not the father!

It's funny, ever since I've started this whole "posting every day" thing, I've been worried about whether or not I would find something post-worthy on a daily basis. I've got a list of things that I can write about that aren't particularly time-sensitive, but I would hate to run through that list and then be topic-less. But The Universe works in mysterious ways, and I found something today that I was quite eager to share my opinions on.

I was watching a story on 60 Minutes about eyewitness testimony. Since some recent date in time, over 230 people have been released from prison after being convicted of crimes like rape and murder, after DNA evidence proved beyond a reasonable doubt that they were innocent. In 75% of the cases, a big part of what helped them get convicted was eyewitness testimony. All the people that they showed in the story were either black or Latino/Arab looking. I'm sure some white guys have gotten off, but we all know that black men are disproportionately represented in the prison system, hence the relevance to me talking about it on this blog.

Some of the takeaways that came from the story are that suspects should be shown one by one, instead of in a lineup. Also, someone not involved in the investigation (i.e. not the detective on the case,) should be the person interacting with the victim during the i.d. of the perpetrator process, so that the victim is not unduly influenced by that person's comments. Also, it should be stressed to the victim that there is a real possibility that the person who committed the crime is not in the lineup. In all of these 230+ cases, the real perpetrator was not in the initial lineup.

I personally think that we should pass a law that says all cases with DNA evidence available should have those tests run. I also think that we should make it illegal for the State to destroy physical evidence--no matter what the amount of time that has passed since the crime was committed. If we're committed to putting the person that is truly responsible behind bars, there should really be no problem with enacting either of these measures. I personally cannot think of much worse in life than having your freedom taken away for a crime that you didn't commit.

As always, I welcome your comments.

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