Essay Examines Pitfalls of Justice System
A recent essay written by Austin Harrington of “
The Good Men Project
” that was published by
examines the pitfalls of the justice system that led to Gerard Richardson’s wrongful conviction.
Richardson spent 19 years in prison for the 1994 murder of Monica Reyes before DNA testing proved his innocence. He became a suspect after law enforcement learned that Reyes, who was addicted to heroin, had sold drugs for Richardson on a few occasions to support her habit and owed him approximately $90. Richardson’s conviction was based largely on the testimony of a forensic dentist who claimed that a bite mark on the victim’s body matched Richardson’s teeth. Harrington suggests that Richardson’s conviction is evidence of a failing justice system. He writes:
We still have gaping holes in our structure that we euphemistically refer to as “cracks” where citizens fall through and have their lives and the lives of their loved ones destroyed. Very few people are arguing for change in our judicial process or the need for more compiling evidence before sentencing. We need to reevaluate the entire system before we send even one more person to prison with the question of undeniable guilt still unanswered. We as a society have executed the innocent, falsely imprisoned the righteous and damned the unworthy, without so much as a cry for a more precise system. Are we so in fear of our population that we would rather send an innocent man to prison than take the time necessary to develop a system that never uses questionable eyewitness testimony or less than exact scientific techniques? If one person rots in prison unjustly our system has failed. If a thousand people rot in prison unjustly our society has failed.
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