Monday, June 12, 2017

Oops, Sorry. Your 17 year imprisonment was a mistake!

Maybe it’s because I don’t have a college education like the folks do in the courthouse, or under the capitol dome.  And here, for the past 8 decades, I believed that those simple lessons taught by my parents and my Sunday School teachers, were true:  What you sow, that shall you reap.  Wrong!

Here’s the reason for my reflections today.

Over the weekend I’m watching the network news, and I see that this black dude is freed after serving 17 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.  But the explanation was a simple one:  the real criminal looked just like him!  Could have been his twin!  So now even the poor guy walking free seems to have a forgiving spirit.  It was an honest mistake.

Wait until he figures out he can’t get those 17 years back.

Wait until he tries to get a job. 

Wait until he looks at his bank balance.

Wait until he wonders how to stop the nightmares that routinely wake him up during the night.

But back to my point.  The educated folks downtown just pat my knee and explain that if I were a bit more savvy, I’d understand.

Do you mean there’s no punishment for the cops who felt they didn’t have to investigate any further, because with their “tunnel vision” they just knew this was the right man?

Do you mean the Prosecutor who just shrugs his shoulders and admits that getting a conviction was his goal, not attaining justice…do you mean this guy is accountable to no one?  He’s the one who made the mistake, but when you have that job and you screw up, there’s no punishment?

Do you mean there’s no hell to pay for the defense attorney who didn’t think he had to work all that hard, because he thought everybody would see this guy was innocent?

And the State of Kansas, which hasn’t yet adopted a compensation bill for the wrongly convicted…do you mean to tell me that they can just open the prison doors, say “Oops, wrong guy,” and not have to pay for their mistake?

I’m sick and tired of it.  But that’s just me:  uneducated small town newsman, village organist, and 80-year-old prisoner advocate. 

Nothing’s going to change until you get sick of it, too.

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