A fundamental principal in American criminal justice is that one is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. But in the past two decades, DNA-proven wrongful convictions have revealed that we’ve routinely met the standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt” with evidence that is quantifiably incorrect one-fourth of the time.
A 25 percent error rate in school has historically earned the very lackluster grade of D. A 25 percent margin of error would shutter any hospital and ground any airline. But, in the criminal justice system, most Americans, blinded by trust in the system and a popular allegiance to “tough on crime” policies, have yet to Continue reading
Clarence Elkins spent six and a half years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, but the worst of it was the last three months leading up to the day he was exonerated and released. Because the true perpetrator of the crime that had stolen Elkins’s freedom was in the same prison, Elkins was placed in solitary confinement for his own protection. Solitary is sometimes used as a means of separating inmates. Even though Elkins had done nothing to deserve it, he was treated like any other person in solitary. It was a nightmare. Last week Elkins and five other exonerees reported their solitary confinement experiences in a written report to the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights.
I feel certain that the short but powerful report, here, would appall the vast majority of Americans.
Samplings from the report: “No blanket, no underwear, or pillow…no bed mat. Continue reading