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Monday, March 27, 2006

In Justice

I've mentioned the new ABC show In Justice before. Last Friday's episode was particularly good, especially if you're opposed to automatic sentencing and three-strikes laws. The lawyers took the case of a black man sentenced to 30 years for stealing a case of vodka--supposedly his third strike. They investigated both his second and third convictions, eventually finding they were bogus. On the vodka theft, the key witness was his friend, the actual thief, who testified against him because a conviction would have been his (the witness') third strike. One of the lawyers rips three strikes to pieces, and they discuss how crappy fingerprints really are as evidence. They even mentioned the false ID in the Madrid train bombing case! (Sorry, there don't appear to be transcripts or even detailed summaries of the show online; I think I still have the show on my DVR, however, so I may go back and pull a few choice quotes.)

After reading this book a few years ago, I have little faith in our criminal justice system. There's money to be made locking people up, so people get locked up. Most cop shows tend to support the idea that its okay to bend the rules because vicious criminals are getting off scot-free every day. "In Justice" makes a case, every week, that innocent people are being locked up every day because the rules are bent. Which I suspect is closer to the truth.