Are we angry about this week's news stories? We should be!
It’s always someone else who gets wrongly convicted, right? Wrong!
Just this week in the news came the Nevest Coleman story from Chicago. DNA testing proved that the White Sox groundskeeper was innocent. He served 23 years for a crime someone else had committed. Then today came a second story, this in Michigan: Richard Phillips was released. Innocent. He had served 45 years!
No one says “Oops.” No one says, “Sorry.” And both of these kind men smile, express gratitude for their release, and try to jump-start their lives.
I’m sorry, but I think they should be mad as hell!
And so should we!
It was Maurice Carter’s wrongful conviction that sucked me into this business.
Since that time my life has been touched by so many wrongly-convicted people. Today I started jotting down names…all are white, and most of them mid-to-upper income. Take a look,
A business owner.
A financial adviser.
An employed laborer.
An account executive.
An independent contractor.
A general manager.
This list of fine, hard-working citizens proves that it can happen to anyone. Even you. Even me. And don’t just assume that high priced lawyers can get you off. Extensive efforts and appeals by legal experts, family and friends, were not enough to help these people. Injustice conquered.
I cannot stress enough how easy it is to get into prison, and how difficult it is to get out.
It can be as simple as a family feud, a misunderstanding, a terrible accident, a troubled relationship, a struggle with depression or some other sort of mental illness---the kind of things that we all have faced or likely will face in a lifetime.
Mix in factors such as “tunnel vision” by police investigators, and win/loss records of prosecutors who are elected to office, and you have a recipe that can change a life forever. It has happened over and over again in the past. It’s happening now. It’ll happen again.
My reason for posting still another wrongful conviction blog is to remind that the system is not always correct, not always fair, not always just. Cops, prosecutors, and judges, while serving us well in most cases, are not infallible. Some (gasp) are criminals themselves.
Good Christians; good citizens---regardless of belief---must take an interest. Some of my friends contend that 10-15% of our prisoners are innocent. And that doesn’t include those who have been over-charged or over sentenced. State officials reluctantly concede that the figure is more realistically around 3%. Over 1,000 people in our Michigan Prison system who are innocent? That’s a curse! That’s a blight!
Shameful, shameful, shameful!
Neither is sitting in our easy chair, clucking our teeth.