Monday, March 19, 2007

Do we have the right guy?

In the Central Park jogger case, all it took was 14 to 30 hours of questioning of 5 teenagers without their parents, and the young men confessed to a horrible crime. All it took was these confessions, contradicted by DNA evidence and contradicted by each other, to give ambitious, tunnel-visioned prosecutors and judges the green light to close the case. A false sense of security was enjoyed by all. Meanwhile, the real rapist was hiding in plain sight as those brutal attacks escalated.

Is this person guilty? It's always a tough question. For the latest 9-11 confession by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, his photograph certainly was selected to make us think he's guilty of something.

No one wants to capture these guys more than I do, but it took more than than three years of secret questioning to get this confession. If we already know that 14 sleepless hours can produce a confession to a brutal crime the young men in New York didn't do, how reliable is a confession like this one? It includes a "plot" to blow up a building that didn't exist three years ago, and a murder another person already was sentenced for. Did we convict the wrong guy then? Or now? Or are they both guilty, or both not guilty?

Just as in the Central Park Jogger case, whenever we "catch" the wrong guy, the real guy laughs his way to the next crime. He's not deterred. He's emboldened.

This confession is covered well in several diaries at DailyKos here. But it deserves mentioning again that when the wrong man goes to jail, there are multiple injustices. One belongs to the innocent man. The other injustice belongs to the guilty one. And the third injustice is to the victims.

* Why people confess to crimes they didn't do.

* The False Confessions in the Central Park Jogger Case: How They Happened, and How To Stop Similar Injustices from Happening Again.

* The Lesson Of The Central Park Jogger Controversy: Start Videotaping Interrogations.

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