Advice for President Obama on protecting justice
Max’s advice for March 3, 2009
Dear President Obama,
Max grew up as the son of a man who knew ‘ALL’ the answers to the problems of the world. Max’s father said so! Many times, his father let everyone know that anyone who didn’t know that he had the answers was a turkey or a knucklehead.
The famous Ma Bell, the second most powerful force in the world (next to God of course), thought so much of Max’s father’s opinions, that she made him ‘Supervisor of Troubles’. This is true!
The advice Max promised you, President Obama.
Protect justice in America by funding DNA resources!
Max loves the statement ‘equal protection under the law’. It sounds like everyone who is faced with dealing with the law would get an even shake.
Truth is that some of the two million people behind bars aren’t the person who committed the crime. Even in this day of DNA evidence some people are still rotting behind bars without having done what they are said to have.
The Dianne Rheam Show brought this issue to life with her show on ‘Picking Cotton’. If you didn’t get a chance to hear the show it is about what happened when rape victim Jennifer Thompson-Cannino picked out Ronald Cotton as the assailant. This was before DNA evidence.
Ronald got to spend eleven years of his life behind bars for a crime he did not commit and Jennifer was sure he did. DNA evidence finally cleared Ronald and devastated Jennifer. Now they have written a book which tells the story.
Mr. President, the book ‘Picking Cotton’ is not the point. It just explains the need for getting DNA evidence out of police lockers and into the labs.
Mr. Cotton is not the only person the state has had to apologize to. His incarceration and that of many others hung on circumstantial evidence and eye witnesses. Though people are being earnest when they identify the person who they ‘believe’ committed the crime, real scientifically valid evidence would reduce many of the errors in the system.
The government should make it a goal to process DNA evidence, particularly from rapes, as quickly as humanly possible. Older crimes that have DNA evidence should have it processed to validate the plea or jury verdict.
This would be a very good source of new jobs that will be needed in the future. Though the total number may be small, DNA lab expansion to meet the demand would have a lot of very good consequences.
Rapes could be solved more quickly. DNA evidence may allow women who are afraid to testify an alternate option. The quick gathering of evidence may lead more rapists to plead to the charge when they are identified.
On the other side of the coin, anywhere there is DNA evidence that would exonerate someone in custody, having the facilities to process it would speed the day that justice is served.
Max believes those who commit heinous acts should be separated from society as a whole and those who do not should not be penalized for the system’s shortcomings.
Most Americans would like a justice system that provides for fair and impartial treatment when people violate the trust that being a member of a society entails. If someone commits a crime that injures someone, they should lose their right to move among the society at large.
At the same time processing all evidence, including DNA, in a timely manner can make sure that it becomes rarer that anyone is denied their freedom for an act they did not commit.
Max wishes you well in all your efforts.
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Link one is the abstract of the book ‘Picking Cotton’.
Link two is an article about the Innocence Project.
Link three is a U.S. government study on eliminating DNA backlogs