Thursday, January 30, 2014

Justice Dis-served.

Yeah, I know, that's not a word.  But it oughta be, doggone it.

Today, for the second time, Amanda Knox got convicted of murder.  The first was the result of the original highly celebrated trial, which was overturned on appeal.

In the US, that would have been the end of it.  American prosecutors have one bite at the apple, if the accused is acquitted, they lose, and that's it, they have no appeal.  But, in Italy, that apparently is NOT the end of it, and prosecutors can appeal an acquittal they disagree with.

Which they did, and the Italian Supreme Court directed another Appeals Court to retry the poor girl.

That court today returned a guilty verdict.

Due to the Constitutional protections against Double Jeopardy, it is unlikely that Amanda Knox will ever be extradited back to Italy to serve that time.  But, she is thereby restricted to the United States for the rest of her natural life - if she sets foot in another country Italy has an extradition treaty with, it's back to the hoosegow.  For over 28 years.   That means the entire European Union, you know.  And who knows how many others.

Given the absolute carnival her first trial apparently was, and the cavalier manner in which the Italians apparently investigated the crime in the first place, this entire ordeal has the obvious trappings of a corrupt and disabled justice system.  This second trial has the appearance of being just a sop to the prosecutors, as the justices themselves have to know that she'll never serve a day of her sentence, due to that double jeopardy thing.  Which is a complete travesty of justice all by itself.

Oh, I know, the American system of justice doesn't have anything to crow about, given the number of innocents we imprison every year.  Or out and out kill, like that poor fellow in Mississippi - or was it Alabama?  Everybody knew that man was innocent, yet they killed the poor bastard anyway.  Just cause he was black, and they could.

Which brings me to why I am writing this tonight.

The thread that connects these thoughts is that any human justice system is imperfect.  We do end up jailing innocent folks, sometimes for decades.  Fortunately, there are numerous groups in the US who work tirelessly to get new trials for people they investigate cases for and determine that an injustice has been done.  Sometimes, they even succeed.

But then what?  Oh, yeah, sometimes these guys get some kind of renumeration.  As if any money amount can reimburse you for decades of your life wasted behind bars.  But at least, they sometimes get that.

But what about the victim?  Our entire justice system is supposedly predicated on the ideal that the government speaks for the dead.  That in cases of murder, where the dead cannot speak and tell their tale, the government steps in to see that justice is done on their behalf.

Unless of course, they get the wrong perpetrator.  In that case, the real murderer walks, free and clear.  Even if some years later, the guy in prison is shown to be wrongly accused and convicted, the American justice system is not at all interested in going back to that cold case and finding out who really did it.  True, if the wrongly convicted man is freed based on the confession of the real murderer who is now in prison for life, they might go ahead and try the real perpetrator just to get the conviction on record - especially if that will prevent any kind of future parole issues.

But at no time is any case ever reinvestigated based on the desire to see real justice done.  No prosecutor's office wants to stand up in front of a judge and explain why they are prosecuting THIS guy after having wrongly convicted THAT guy 30 years ago.  Or 20, or 10.  Kinda hard to prove to the judge that, "Yeah, trust me, we might have gotten that one wrong, but we're really convinced THIS time we've got the right guy!"

So, all day, every day, murderers go free.  Walking among us.  They could be your coworker, your neighbor, your friend.  Your boss, your mailman, your car mechanic.  Or the guy that comes into your home to fix the leaky faucet or your computer.

You may be comfortable with that.

I'm not.

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