November 24, 2011

"If you're guilty of a crime, you get more support from the state when you're released than if you're innocent."

"They have no authority over people whose conviction is overturned... There is nothing crafted to deal with this kind of situation."

Says Keith Findley, commenting on the case of a man who was freed 2 years ago (with help from the Wisconsin Innocence Project, which Findley direct), and who is now back in jail.

17 comments:

EDH said...

Sure, I posted this song yesterday. But it fits!

Feel So Good (acoustic version)

They put me in jail for my deviant ways
Two years, seven months and sixteen days
Now I'm back on the street in a purple haze
And I feel so good, and I feel so good
Well, I feel so good, I'm gonna break somebody's heart tonight

I feel so good, I'm gonna make somebody's day tonight
I feel so good, I'm gonna make somebody pay tonight

I'm old enough to sin but I'm too young to vote
Society's been dragging on the tail of my coat
Now I've got a suitcase full of fifty pound notes
And a half-naked woman with her tongue down my throat

And I feel so good, and I feel so good
Oh, I feel so good, I'm gonna break somebody's heart tonight

They made me pay for the things I've done
Now it's my turn to have all the fun

Well, I feel so good, I'm gonna break somebody's heart tonight

Irene said...

Michael Greisbach, a prosecutor in Manitowoc County, made a similar observation about Steven Avery: "Avery had another problem, one not shared by most former offenders. Because his conviction had been vacated, when he walked out of prison he wasn't placed on parole. That meant no supervision, no counseling, no weekly meetings with a parole agent to keep tabs on him, and no support."

When it comes to the criminal justice system—like other things—there's no middle. It's either the individual's failure to conform to society's boundaries, or it's society's fault for failing to provide the individual with the right tools for success.

alan markus said...

In these cases, someone from the DA's office (the one that obtained the false conviction) should take the person into their home until they have readjusted. Like in the movie Swing Blade - Karl Childers is released from the state hospital and spends his first night at the hospital director's home because he has nowhere to go. The family gives him the teen daughter's bedroom. He sits on the edge of the bed all night. Can't find that scene on YouTube.

madAsHell said...

We need more social workers to help the innocent!!

Yeah....that's gonna help.

edutcher said...

It sounds like, given the rate of recidivism among real criminals, the support system that exists for them doesn't work very well, either.

And, at what point are people responsible for their own actions?

themightypuck said...

Come on. If you throw someone down a well the least you can do is pull them back out. It's not like this guy was a paragon of good decision making before they locked him away. Most people who get falsely convicted are pretty shady to begin with. Bad situations will fuck a person up and just because most will bounce back on their own doesn't mean those who don't need to be cut loose. Look at all the veterans who have PTSD and other mental issues.

Cedarford said...

An interesting case - I don't know how far you can extrapolate - but this case indicates that even if you are innocent and falsely convicted, jail and no support makes you more likely to be in trouble with the law later.

We need to think about that.

Maybe you cannot rehab all bad guys, or even a majority..but we as a society should pay to have a system in which the ones most likely and wanting to rehab get the support to lower the odds of more jail in the future.

Another problem is that just one criminal offense turns a person into a pariah when seeking work. To allow these ex-cons to make money legitimately, we cannot bar people but from all but the most menial, low pay jobs.

raf said...

All convicted persons, innocent or guilty, upon release should be hired into Federal Civil service positions. Sure, they won't contribute anything useful, for the most part, but they will have a relatively cheap "support network" and will be essentially indistinguishable from the people already in those positions.

Carol_Herman said...

There is NO perfect legal system!

What was accomplished by the LAW ... going back to a time 4,000 years ago ... when the desert had no rules ... is that one group accepted the IDEA of living by rules.

True. Moses set the rules in stone. He said they came from God.

And, even then, the law wasn't perfect.

One judge that stands out is King Solomon. Two women were disputing "ownership" of one baby. Both looked like mothers. The baby couldn't be identified positively as belonging to one mother or another.

The rest is a very famous case.

If you think King Solomon would really have ordered the baby cut in half, you're nuts.

But it's a good example of how you have to weight what's brought before the court.

It's interesting, because "bad guys" are easily spotted in movies. Life's not like that. And, that's because the law is above stupidity. And, criminality.

Like wealth, however, it's not distributed fairly.

You'll always hear "hard luck" stories. That's how Sandusky made tax-free money touting a charity.

When you're giving to charities ... you're giving to a business operation.

When you expect our laws to be perfect, they aren't.

Lots of people have the heart where they want the things that are broken, fixed. But go ahead. Try to fix this one. See if Rube Goldberg couldn't solve it better.

caplight said...

My experience with the criminal justice system is that there is not much support for convicted criminals either. Unless of course you call a stay in a halfway house and random urinalysis at any time of the day or night help.

John Lynch said...

Perhaps the judge and DA thought that imprisoning this man would keep him from killing himself? But surely there's another way?

Can't say anything good about this.

phx said...

When it comes to the criminal justice system—like other things—there's no middle. It's either the individual's failure to conform to society's boundaries, or it's society's fault for failing to provide the individual with the right tools for success.

Interesting point. We could help provide individuals with the right tools for success. At the same time, if we find ourselves at the dirty end of the criminal justice system we could try to accept personal responsibility for doing our very best.

cubanbob said...

I certainly do not know the solution to the problem of the wrongly convicted but a good place to start would be to remove the immunity from cops and prosecutors who knowingly prosecute the innocent or withhold exculpable evidence. Perhaps forensic evidence investigations ought to be done by a body that is independent of the police and prosecution, a body that has pardon the pun, no axe to grind.

Freeman Hunt said...

If you're guilty of a crime, you get more support from the state when you're released than if you're innocent.

That's for a number of reasons, one of them being that the assumption is that you're a functioning adult, not a criminal, and functioning adults don't need people running them.

However, it's easy to see that someone who has been incarcerated, rightly or wrongly, for a number of years might have trouble reintegrating into society. And that $5000 a year payout is ridiculous. They should have set him up with a local charity that could help him navigate his way back into a normal life.

Seven Machos said...

Overturned convictions should result in something similar to loser pays in the civil system. Not a lawsuit, but a simple, nominal, fixed payment of money to the wrongfully convicted person commensurate with time served.

Ann Althouse said...

"Overturned convictions should result in something similar to loser pays in the civil system. Not a lawsuit, but a simple, nominal, fixed payment of money to the wrongfully convicted person commensurate with time served."

I don't think you can assume in situations like this that it was a wrongful conviction. It may be that there is new evidence, but that the procedure as done at the time was proper.

Seven Machos said...

I strongly agree that procedure is good -- that rights must be enforced, 100 innocent going free is better than one guilty person convicted, and all that.

However, procedure is at bottom a hollow exercise designed to get at the truth of falsity of the allegations with the fullest measure of fairness. If it is determined that someone is innocent after they've been in jail, the state is complicit in false imprisonment. It doesn't matter that the prosecutor was doing a good job. It wasn't a good enough job. Res ipsa loquitor, QED.

Really, the person who got jailed should be able to sue for any sum of money they can get. That would be justice. But it would also be bad policy. The policy that exists is unconscionable.