Thursday, November 29, 2012

i can't make anything of this...

I confess
I’m reading a story about the Central Park Five and their overturned convictions from the 1989 rape in Central Park. I remember vividly the entire story about kids out “wilding” in the parks and streets in NYC. I didn’t know that all five were exonerated and released in 2002; my immediate excuse might be that I was living in England but that’s probably lame.
What this has got my mind working on is the intersection of “the times” and “techniques” modes. For criminal proceedings the easiest events to look at are the exonerations driven by the passage of time, exonerations combined with advanced scientific techniques like DNA testing. What we want to believe is that wrongful convictions are simply a poor application of a mathematical formula: The reason that a conviction was wrong was because the techniques we had at the time weren’t advanced enough to convict or not. But that never seems to be the case – when people are exonerated through DNA testing what is exposed in the underbelly is always horrible or biased police work. I never read about someone being released who was convicted through efficient, unbiased, or unprejudiced police work. Maybe a murderer is released and we hear a backstory about how at the time of conviction the preponderance of evidence, or whatever legal term fits here, showed that the suspect was the murderer. No false confessions and no violations of rights and no crappy witnesses. No guesswork or assumptions that led to a failure to disclose evidence or the like. Is this because it’s nearly impossible to mistakenly convict without some of law enforcement insider trading?  Are we as humans preconditioned to convict based on bias? Or, does our system’s “beyond a reasonable doubt” ideal force our hand? There must be convictions are would stand up to any test of technique or time, right?
In a lot of human endeavors we can agree that “the times” we the basic underpinning of human behavior – times when no technique would ever trump or sway the truth. Nearly all civil rights issues wear this anchor: It was the times we lived in; we didn’t know or believe that X was equal to us. We eventually outgrow that and move forward, but we recognize somehow that there was a contribution from time and place within our granting of civil rights. We can understand it. With police/court work the techniques reveal the truth, not the passage the time.
Right. I’m stopping. My head is spinning. I haven’t even fully addressed the ins-and-out of The Life of Pi.
Lemon was taken to the doctor/parole board this morning at 7a and even though he was wishy washy on releasing her, she will roam free this evening. All hail...

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