This whole huge Dorner saga, as well as the State of the Union last night, has refreshed a lot of conversations about justice, violence, crime, mental health systems, etc. With the very best intentions, our version of justice can often be unjust. Our legal system doesn’t try to screw up. It, and the people involved, I believe do, most often, have the best goals (at least when entering their legal professions–I suspect the industry can make one jaded and ever-searching for ways to game the system or take shortcuts).
A huge issue we have to confront, is the incarceration of innocent people. Years of lives, sometimes even the life itself, are mistakenly taken from people who are wrongfully convicted. I’m not talking crime and intrigue novels and TV dramas, but real life. Can you imagine the desperation of trying to proclaim and prove your innocence while the slow wheels of justice grind you down? Then–truly unimaginable–being convicted and jailed for a crime you didn’t commit? It doesn’t happen all the time, of course, but it DOES happen too often for us to be complacent. The Innocence Project is a national litigation and public policy organization dedicated to exonerating the wrongfully convicted through DNA evidence and reforming the parts of the system that are outdated and no longer serve us well. Most of the clients are poor, forgotten, and pretty hopeless. Every case is different, and certainly many of those who have been rightfully convicted will still proclaim innocence in hopes of securing freedom, so the work of these experts is challenging, but crucial. Volunteers can contribute effort to the cause–most on a by-case basis and most requiring your presence in New York. For other organizations tilting at the same windmills of injustice, look for volunteer opportunities here.
Just one wrongfully imprisoned innocent is too many.