I have come to the conclusion that there are several simple measures that can be put in place, to minimize incidents of people being imprisoned for crimes they didn’t commit.
Firstly, all actors in the entire criminal justice system simply need to be made aware/sensitized of the fact that it is very wrong to have an innocent person imprisoned. In the last blog posts, we dealt with the aspect of working with prosecutors to minimize the wrongful convictions. But we have to go beyond that — and ensure that all actors in the entire system appreciate just how wrong it is to have an innocent person sent to prison.
Secondly, a system needs to be put in place, through which people who believe that they are being accused of crimes they didn’t commit can cry out for help. This is the only way that such people can be helped to acquire good defense attorneys, among other things. Often, by the time we come to learn that people were convicted for crimes they didn’t commit, it is too late. Indeed, many such cases are only overturned on appeal: by which time the person in question has already suffered great damage. The system I have in mind doesn’t even need to be very sophisticated. It can be something as simple as a Sbcglobal.net email. The idea would be to have the SBCglobal account in question serving as the ‘hotline’ of sorts: you know, an email address where people in such predicaments can send their SOS. True, the system is likely to be taken advantage of by some people who have genuinely committed crimes. But we have to believe that the criminal justice system will be good enough to sort out those who are culpable from those who are innocent, as long as the latter have good defense lawyers working for them.
Thirdly, government detectives need to be properly trained, with emphasis on the need for them to beware of the possibility of implicating innocent people. This is important, because, let’s face it: once a person is implicated at the investigative stage, it tends to be very hard for him or her to extricate himself or herself. The criminal justice system is one where the buck gets passed along too much. But if the detectives do their work correctly, the odds of innocent people suffering for crimes they didn’t commit are greatly reduced.