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The foxes guarding the henhouse

By Dr. Lorraine Spinard and Gregory P. Hoeper
August 3, 2016

Do you find it interesting that the recent shootings that took place in Louisiana and Minnesota immediately sparked violent and widespread protests in Texas and New York? The fact is that Texas leads the nation in wrongful convictions, followed by New York. They are not wrongful convictions; they are unlawful convictions. The residents of these states suffer the most from injustice. Why and how does this happen?

Recently I attended a symposium sponsored by It Could Happen 2/You (ICH/Y), at which it was noted that the state of New York has no agency to discipline prosecutors. Every other type of licensed professional has an overseeing commission—police, doctors, beauticians, attorneys, accountants, judges—yes, even judges. Only prosecutors face no consequences for their actions.

This is frightening. These are the most powerful people in the justice system, and they are political figures. It appears that in an effort to retain their elected position, their reputation for “the win” takes precedence over their purpose to assure that justice has been served. There is no uniform system of best practices and no uniform way to investigate prosecutors. So the fox is guarding the henhouse. One form of malpractice is their withholding of evidence. It is the prosecutors’ responsibility to turn over all evidence to the defense, regardless how irrelevant they think it is.

I have great respect for our police. The police massacre in Texas was horrific. Violence is never the answer no matter how frustrated one is. However, it seems that investigations are lacking, and many jump to conclusions, as suggested by the fact that in New York City, there is only one trial for every 461 arrests. There is a plea bargain rate of 99.74%, and one in every four African Americans will be arrested in their lifetimes.

Do you understand the implications? Our country is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Miranda-Reid Technique, through which law enforcement is trained to coerce confessions with an 80% success rate. Happy golden anniversary “justice.”

In Monroe County alone, there have recently been three wrongful convictions that cost New York taxpayers over $15 million in settlements. In many such cases, the real criminal is still at large and able to continue committing crimes. That is unnerving. It is not too different from prosecutors repeatedly engaging in unlawful practices without consequence and being permitted to continue practicing their shenanigans.