Friday, February 29, 2008

How Is This A Good Idea

Something important for this "extra day."

I watched The Exonerated last night. This was the movie version of a play written entirely from court transcripts and interviews with death row denizens who were eventually proved innocent and set free.

Let's just say that again: These people went through our court system, were found guilty, put on death row and through tenacity, luck and hard evidence, were proved innocent.

You know how exterminators tell you that if you see a mouse in your house then you've already got 10 times that many in your walls? Let's apply that to the criminal justice system. We're only hearing about the "lucky" ones.

How is it possible that we, as intelligent, logical, sane people, can continue to practice such an imperfect form of "justice"? How can a state like Texas where you do not have the option to have an abortion be killing adults at such an alarming rate? How did I just write that last phrase when killing any people at all, even one, should really qualify as "an alarming rate"?

If you don't know much about the issue let me suggest a gentle introduction. Rent the movie. Maybe read the play (I spent a little time with the play in a bookstore today and I really think it's better than the movie version, more moving). You can read the book about the process of writing the play (the play includes 6 of the exonerated, they interviewed many times that number). Possibly the most personal way to do it would be to read Kerry Max Cook's book, which Rob has written about (and which, incidentally, wasn't to be found in the large chain bookstore I was browsing this afternoon).

I can't keep it in! I didn't want to spoil those sources for you but I have to! Trust me there's plenty more to learn even after I spill a few beans. Cook was exonerated due to DNA evidence that had been available for years. Sunny Jacobs, another of the 6 characters, was exonerated with a confession from the gentleman who committed the crime. He made his confession in the mid 1970s. She was released in 1992. This is the sort of thing you're going to be reading about and yes, it's uncomfortable at best, but it's so necessary and I think that it's worth your time. When Jacobs was released and met her granddaughter the girl said, "I know where you were Grandma. You were lost." If your neighbor were lost wouldn't you join the search party?

I, myself, am incensed and I'm off to the library at the earliest opportunity to get Cook's book and see what I can do. If it ain't broke don't fix it but this is broke, so very broke.

1 comment:

  1. That whole 'if you're not outraged..." bumpersticker was flashing neon in my head (it does that a lot) while I was reading your post. I wish I were surprised. We all see the headlines announcing the release of this or that person after being found innocent. You bring up an extremely sticky point - this book is written about the ones we KNOW about.
    May this book be read by people who NEED to be reminded/informed about how inept and corrupt this system is and how badly it need s overhauling. Something has got to change.
    Oh, and Texas just plain scares me.

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