Conservative columnist says ‘Central Park Five’ film raises serious questions

The documentary by Ken Burns, David McMahon and Sarah Burns about the wrongful convictions of ”The Central Park Five” received high praise today from what some might consider an unlikely source — conservative columnist George F. Will.

As a critic of the overreach of government, though, Will has expressed concern in the past about the abuse of power by police, prosecutors and the courts. And he says what happened to the five innocent young men in the media-fueled hysteria created in the aftermath of a horrific rape and assault of a young woman in 1989 is a cautionary tale of government excess that should give conservatives pause.

”A society’s justice system can improve as a result of lurches into officially administered injustice,” Will writes. ”The dialectic of injustice, then revulsion, then reform often requires the presentation of sympathetic victims to a large audience, which ‘The Central Park Five’ does.”

Will goes on to say that ”this recounting of a multifaceted but, fortunately, not fatal failure of the criminal justice system buttresses the conservative case against the death penalty: Its finality leaves no room for rectifying mistakes, but it is a government program, so . . .”

You can read Will’s eloquent column here.

2 responses to “Conservative columnist says ‘Central Park Five’ film raises serious questions

  1. Please free Father Gordon Mac Rae – this is a disgusting and painful blot on the USA Justice System – the fact that a person refuses to claim guilt is not a reason to punish his integrity. Stop this evil plea-bargaining system!

  2. Not exactly how I read it…he gave the detectives and prosecutors a pass in this case for looking out for “society’s safety” while placing the lion’s share of the blame for the wrongful convictions on inadequate public defenders. Of course, those defenders were forced to work with cases where their clients had been interrogated for 30 hours without access to lawyers and it is completely ignorant or dishonest to give the detectives a pass on that. Will also suggested that the race and class of these defendants likely played little or no part in their susceptibility to police coercion, which is also somewhat ignorant or dishonest. But it is good to see a conservative shine a spotlight on wrongful convictions.

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