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.