A rape victim made a positive identification that Johnson was her assailant, but:
DNA testing completed Dec. 21 determined that the Leesville man could not have raped a Many woman on July 12, 1982. The man who did was convicted in May 1984 of committing an aggravated rape April 30, 1983, at the same apartment complexHow many more such cases must we see before police practices and the rules of evidence are changed to strengthen eyewitness identifications?
What good argument is there for police not using double-blind lineup procedures with neutral administrators?
Given how many eyewitnesses simply get their ID's wrong, when will the Legislature require corroboration for victims who did not previously know the assailant (or for that matter, for informants who cut a deal for their testimony)?
I'd asked in a recent post how a value could be placed on wrongful convictions, and quoted my father, a civil defense attorney who said tort law allows compensation, among other things, for "lost consortium" with one's family and a more general loss of "companionship and society." Putting aside the legalese, what does that really mean? Here's an example:
During his 25 years of incarceration, Johnson has missed watching his four children grow. One was born just after he went to jail. He's kept in touch as best he could.How can this fellow ever really be compensated for what was taken from him? In my opinion, it's impossible, no matter how much money he's ultimately awarded (if any). He and others in his position deserve a legacy for what happened to them, not just a settlement.
One son, a LSU engineering graduate, just moved to Baton Rouge. "I'm the only one he has now since his mother has passed."
And, of course, there are the grandchildren that he's never met.
The only way to adequately honor such an unfathomable loss is to strengthen protections against it happening again, adjusting policies and practices within the system that allowed his wrongful conviction to occur. Otherwise, compensating payments come to be considered just part of the cost of doing business (it's OPM - other people's money - to the pols, after all), and more wrongful convictions become nearly inevitable.
We know why wrongful convictions occur. What's missing is the political will from either major party to do what' necessary to minimize them in the future.
MORE: For more information on improved eyewitness identification practices see the website of UT El Paso's Eyewitness Identification Research Laboratory.