Candidate interviews have been interesting this year in a very unexpected way. Two examples. In one race for a criminal court, a longtime prosecutor talked about his stellar record. He never lost a case, essentially. I asked him if, knowing that we have had wrongful convictions, that bothered him. He went silent for about 15 seconds and offered a very thoughtful response. He was confident the system worked in almost every case, but he did have some eyewitness-only cases, and those troubled him.Landauer thinks reforms haven't been implemented because people are "shamelessly ignorant of what is really happening," but he acknowledges Jeff's point that the politicians who made and enforce the laws refuse to admit they likely sent innocent people to prison, perhaps even a lot of them. He concludes that the problem is a "toxic mix of ignorance and stubbornness," but fails to name the state rep candidate who made such a foolish comment or the prosecutor who didn't mind sending folks to prison based on a single eyewitness. After all, if the media isn't telling voters who are these "ignorant" or "stubborn" pols, how can we prevent electing them?
Then, yesterday, we had a state rep candidate in who was attempting to address some criminal justice issues. She uttered the words that "eyewitness is, of course, the ultimate ..."
The ultimate what, I asked, thinking she meant to finish the thought by saying "ultimate area where mistakes happen." Nope. She said it's the "ultimate proof of a crime." She went on to say that if she sees someone do something, she knows they did it.
Wow. Just. Wow.
Perhaps the Dallas News editorial board is waiting for their endorsements to reveal which politicians are promoting policies and ideas that help send innocent people to prison, but it sure seems like that's information they might want to share with readers instead of protecting those too ignorant or stubborn to acknowledge what's going on.
Milton in Paradise Lost wrote that "they who have put out the people’s eyes, reproach them of their blindness." With all respect to Michael and others at the News, there's some of that going on here. If the problem is "shameless" ignorance, surely the media sources through which most folks get their information are also partially to blame? It's easy to point fingers at politicians - hell, it's a national pastime - but mainstream media too frequently play into false assumptions about the justice system, including the Dallas News, and that's also a big part of the problem.