I don’t for one minute think that every person in prison for even a violent crime is actually guilty of that crime. What the percentage of people who are either wrongly convicted of a crime, or “cop a plea” for a reduced sentence on the chance they would be wrongly convicted and receive a very long sentence, is, I have no objective idea, and neither does anyone else, but we know our justice system is imperfect at best.
In the past few years the “Innocence Project” in Texas alone has been responsible for dozens of innocent inmates, even off death row, being released back into the community. These are not people who are “let off on a technicality” but are people who are actually innocent of the crime they were incarcerated for. Many of these people were law breakers before the wrongful conviction and are not the kind of men and women I would want to have a close relationship with, but they don’t deserve to be incarcerated or executed for something they didn’t do.
With over two million inmates in custody today, if only one-half of one percent of the inmates are innocent of the crimes they are in for, then there are over 10,000 inmates who are wrongly incarcerated. I believe the percentage is probably higher, but like I said, there’s really no way to tell what it is.
This error proneness of our justice system is why I have become anti-death penalty in recent years, because just the thought of executing an innocent person fills me with sadness and anger. Though I know that our system, as flawed as it is, and in need of restructuring as it is, right now the only one we have, and society must have some form of protection against lawbreakers.
One of my son’s prison friends, a guy I will call “Joe,” is a drug dealing, meth cooking, piece of trash, but he is incarcerated for murder now, a murder I think he is probably innocent of. The Texas Innocence project has taken on his case and is getting DNA evidence from the crime that was never tested, tested. The innocence project does not take on cases where there is not a great likelihood the person is sent him to prison 15 years ago, actually innocent of that crime. It doesn’t mean however that he is a good man, because I don’t believe he is, if the evidence of his past record is considered. However, if the micro-evidence (DNA) can show that he did not kill this woman, he should be released. However, if this man was even my son, I still would still not want a relationship with him, he is not a man I would ever trust. Even if he is released on the murder charge, I predict he will be back in prison for something else. Texas does have a program of compensation for these released innocents, and they are given help in returning into free world life, so that hopefully, even if they have been career criminals prior to that wrongful conviction, they are more likely to stay free and not re-offend.
Frequently innocent people who are convicted are convicted on “eye witness” testimony which has proven to be very inaccurate. Micro-evidence, including DNA, has been used to free many of these innocent inmates, so micro-evidence itself is not bad, it just must be carefully done and accuracy of testing must be confirmed. There have even been cases where the “scientists” who did the testing were fakes and faked the tests for hundreds of cases. It took years to discover this, years in which innocent men and women languished behind bars. In an article about faulty hair analysis that may have wrongly convicted some inmates, the Daily Mail reports:
The Innocence Project, who worked alongside the FBI on the review, said that wrongful convictions are ‘not isolated or rare events, but arise from systemic defects’. The FBI is reviewing 2,000 cases convicted on hair samples after it has emerged that there has been widespread errors in forensic testing and how the evidence was portrayed in court. As many as 27 prisoners facing the death penalty may have been wrongfully convicted along with potentially thousands of others across the country. Since the 1980s, hundreds of convictions have been overturned on improper forensic science – which includes bite marks, blood analysis and shoe prints along with hair samples.Forensic testing has never been proved 100 per cent accurate by science – but at times, was presented by experts in court as if conclusive.
If the person you love is in prison and you believe that they are truly innocent, that that crime is totally out of character with the person, then looking at the evidence, you should of course in my opinion support them. You should make every reasonable effort to keep their face and case before the media. Sometimes this may take decades for the truth to come out, or the truth may never come out.
Even finally realizing that my son was guilty of the crime of murder, I still had difficulty giving up hope that he would reform, would repent, would even want to live a law-abiding life, and so I definitely know the difficulty in believing that our loved one is guilty, hoping they are innocent in spite of over whelming evidence of guilt.
So to me, support for an offender would entirely depend on the circumstances of their lives before conviction. If it has been one of continual offending, then I think, for me, the only thing to do is to sever the relationship and go on with my life in a healthy manner.