Yesterday as I sat with family for the celebration of my widowed brother’s marriage to someone he had known all his life, a cousin asked if I ever thought we would be sitting there watching this event. Of course, I could never predict the unpredictable in life. This event might join the list of things I never thought I might witness or experience, but it would rank far below my son’s conviction for crimes he did not commit.
Today marks two years since the painful and shattering odyssey began for Jacob and our family which produced a wrongful conviction over a year ago. During the months preceding trial and after the convictions, we became enlightened to the workings and failures in our criminal justice system and realized that, quite tragically, we were not alone in this ordeal of wrongful convictions.
As I added a couple of books to an Amazon order last night, suggestions based on my earlier purchases popped up. False Justice: Eight Myths That Convict the Innocent was one of the recommended books for me. It was written by a former Attorney General of Ohio and his wife. The quick synopsis of his book listed the eight myths of the title:
Myth 1: Everyone in prison claims innocence.
Myth 2: Our system almost never convicts an innocent person.
Myth 3: Only the guilty confess.
Myth 4: Wrongful conviction is the result of innocent human error.
Myth 5: An eyewitness is the best testimony.
Myth 6: Conviction errors get corrected on appeal.
Myth 7: It dishonors the victim to question a conviction.
Myth 8: If the justice system has problems, the pros will fix them.
I have not read this book yet but added it to my wish list, hoping for a better price on a used copy. I wonder if the authors, Jim and Nancy Petro, have anything new to add to the stories of those who write about the mistakes of the justice system or if they offer suggestions for how we can stop making these horrible mistakes that ruin the lives of those convicted and their families.