Recently, two men were released from death row after DNA evidence proved that the crime for which they had been held for 30 years was actually committed by another man. If you haven’t seen it, here’s a New York Times story on the situation.
Reading through the facts of the case– that the two men were coerced into confessing to a crime they did not commit, that further evidence was ignored, that it took an independent state agency’s tireless work to bring the DNA evidence to the forefront– makes me wonder how many other people have fallen victim to a broken justice system. This situation is particularly frustrating to me because there is nothing most of us could have done to prevent it. It is by the sheer will of the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission that the DNA evidence was gathered. Yes, we can advocate for a better justice system and it is probably helpful to make our frustrations known after the fact, but there are some people who still will not receive a fair trial.
How can we best advocate for honoring the dignity of each person on trial, when the system is so large and out of our control? Are there helpful ways that we as individuals or communities can reflect on injustices in our justice system?