Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Child Murderers and Molesters Are Going Free: Where is the Justice?

I received an email this morning that really started to burn a fire. According to ProPublica, not only are innocent people going down for heinous crimes performed on children, but the unbelievably sick people who did the crimes are going free!

How can this happen?

An excerpt from the email gives us some insight:

"Often, authorities had little to go on other than autopsy findings," write A. C. Thompson, Chisun Lee, Joe Shapiro and Sandra Bartlett. "Many of the doctors who conducted post mortem examinations failed to consult specialists in childhood injuries or ailments, or to review medical records that could have affected their conclusions. In several cases, forensic pathologists worked so closely with authorities, they became agents of law enforcement, rather than objective arbiters of scientific evidence."

In the piece, they also explain how forensic pathologists in Ontario, Canada reviewed 45 child death cases and found that 20 contained incorrect evidence of murder.  Since then the province has begun to implement improvements to its death investigations, but policy-makers in the U.S. have not sought any similar changes.

It's no secret that America (and Canada and the U.K.) has made a ton of legal mistakes that led to the ruin of many people's lives and reputations, throwing innocent men and women in jail in order to get a conviction...or to simply close a case. Although we pride ourselves on the fact that our "justice system" stands behind a "innocent until proven guilty" motto, have you ever put any thought into how hard it would be to prove that you are innocent if evidence "seemed" to point the finger at you? When it all boils down to it, the whole "beyond a reasonable doubt" thing has nothing to do with "innocent until proven guilty".

So, imagine if your child was molested and then killed. You would want justice served, no doubt! I, personally, would want to "serve justice" myself...in the form of "an eye for an eye". Call me psychotic, but if some sicko did ANYTHING to my children, the legal system had better get that person far away from me as quickly as possible...hell hath no fury like a mother's wrath. I cannot even fathom what I would do if someone did the unspeakable to one of my children...

But, imagine if the accused wasn't the right person...imagine if forensic investigators and detectives made a mistake...

Cases of Wrongful Accusation/Convictions

29 Years! Raymond Daniel Towler served 29 years before DNA evidence proved him innocent. This heart-wrenching account that demonstrates how much LIFE he missed...how much the world changed while he sat in a cold, dark cell...and what happened to the REAL perpetrator? He ran free for those 29 years, probably committing more crimes all the while.

Then even more devastating...you report your 7-year-old child missing and she is later found dead. You are then accused of killing your own child. This is what happened to David and Cynthia Dowaliby

And, yet another mom...Angela Cannings is wrongfully accused and sat in prison for killing her own children. During this time, while she mourned the loss of her babies, she also became alienated from her family. (This case happened in the U.K.!)

Sitting on death row for 14 years for the 8-year-old Shandra Whitehead's rape and murder, DNA testing clears Frank Lee Smith. Sadly, while still in prison, he died of cancer.

He paid the ultimate price in 2004...killed by lethal injection for supposedly killing his 3 girls by arson, Cameron Todd Willingham begged his family to never stop trying to clear his name as they hooked him up to the lethal injection tubes. Now, fire scientists are concluding that the fire was "accidental".

And there are many more....there is an extensive list of many different cases of wrongful convictions here.

How Many Innocent People Are Accused and Convicted?

The Innocence Project works to help clear innocent people of wrongful convictions, using DNA testing. Their website states that, "Seventeen people who were exonerated through DNA testing have spent a combined 187 years on death row for crimes they didn’t commit. Some came within days of their scheduled execution." (Although not all of the are cases about children, how sad is it, regardless???)

And, while these innocents sit in a harsh world called prison, the actual murderers and rapists are still out there, free to perform more ludicrous acts...

Why Do Some Confess?

While reading through these stories, I also ran across more information that was intriguing about cases similar to these.

Halsey actually confessed to the crime of the raping, mutilating and killing of two children. 21 long years later, he was exonerated after DNA testing was performed (it wasn't available when he was convicted). WHY WOULD HE CONFESS?

I have my own theories about this...

1) People are badgered by investigators and detectives...told that there were witnesses to the crime, evidence pointing directly at them. They are "conned", so to speak, into confessing the crime. Backed into a corner...

2) Some, I believe, are convinced that they will get a lesser sentence if they confess. Say, the death penalty. Rather than paying the worst price for a crime, they are offered a lesser sentence for confessing to the crime. They have no idea that the confession will only make matters worse for them.

3) Some will confess to stop the interrogations. These interrogations can go on for hours and hours, and many can last days. They are questioned and questioned and twisted and turned for hours and hours and hours, quite often yelled at and threatened.

4) Some think that they can get out of these difficult situations by confessing now and then proving that they are innocent later, unaware of the true implications of their confessions.

5) Their mental state can affect their actions. I mean many things by this: whether they are under major duress and cannot handle it, have a diminished capacity at the time or are truly mentally impaired, a person can confess without understanding what they have just done.

Walk a mile in the accused shoes...Until you have been through it yourself, one cannot judge what they would do in a situation like this!

True enough, the justice system, just like the government, is run by human beings - and humans make mistakes. But, it is also full of corrupt "human beings", too, who cover up their mistakes and continue to put innocent people behind bars, skippy to simply get a conviction and put a case to rest. They continue to allow wrongful convictions to occur, which not only takes away the lives of innocent people, but also permits the real killers and rapists to run free, while the parents and families of the victims are led to believe that cases are solved.

How is that justice?

My heart goes out to the wrongfully accused. These "mistakes" tear apart families and lives...and put the rest of us in danger as the real killers and rapists continue to live in society. And, who really pays for the mistakes? Do the detectives, investigators, officers, forensic specialists and prosecutors have to sit in jail for wrongfully accusing/convicting people? Do they pay anything for their "mistakes"? Certainly, they cannot replace the time/life that they have taken away from the wrongfully accused...they can't give back what they've taken away. They can't right the wrong, especially in Cameron Todd Willingham's case.

And, all the while, the rest of us feel "safer" because someone - anyone - is behind bars for the crime.

Where is the justice for the victims of these crimes? After years - or decades - of an innocent person sitting in prison, is there any hope for the real perpetrator to be caught?

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