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Monday, August 16, 2004

Innocent? Who Cares...

In my recent rant on the subject of death penalty, I have mentioned that death penalty cases are not investigated in the US if the sentence has already been carried out. By that time, it is "case closed".

Well, one may say, even if the person was innocent, once they are dead, they are dead. That certainly is about as close to truth as any statement can get,- however, that argument omits one important part of the picture,- by learning whether or not the person who received the sentence was truly the culprit, we stand to gain knowledge as to what went wrong and we can try and prevent occurrences of the same type in the future. Also, if we do indeed discover that a wrong person was convicted and sentenced, then we will also know that a real culprit may still be at large,- and for that reason alone all true law-and-order aficionados should do their utmost to make sure any and every case that merits reinvestigation is investigated,- many times, if necessary. It is bad enough if an innocent person spends years of his life in jail or is executed for something he never did,- the fact that the real criminal is out there somewhere may also be a major threat, as the famous case of the 1989 Central Park jogger rape illustrates. Note that in that case, as is often the case with pathologically violent types, the culprit did not stop at the crime for which others took the heat.
The man, Matias Reyes, is currently serving a 33-year sentence for a string of violent rapes — and one murder — that he committed in the four months after the April 1989 assault on the jogger, which left her near death and in a coma for 12 days.
(Reported here by the ABC News.)
So, we can be relatively confident that one person would be alive and several others would be spared the experience of rape if the authorities did not follow a false trail.

Now, I do not call myself a law-and-order type, but I do like to see violent criminals locked up. So I find it even most surprising that the law-and-order state of Florida headed by a law-and-order Governor Jeb Bush who is a firm supporter of vigorous law enforcement,- including death penalty,- is so reluctant to try and figure out why a man spent 22 years in jail for a rape he had nothing to do with. Personally, I would expect Florida officials to be falling all over themselves if their talk about being committed to law enforcement is anything other than election PR. No matter what they think about the ex-inmate,- an apology to whom would be nice, IMHO,- there likely is a sexual predator out there who needs to be apprehended. And no, this ain't no jaywalking case, this is serious crime, folks!

However, I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for the State of Florida to act on this.

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