I wanted to share a story that, well, pisses me off to no end!
Alan Northorp was convicted of a rape he didn’t commit 17 years ago. Unfortunately innocent people get convicted all the time. I have always felt that this reason alone makes capital punishment wrong. Innocent people shouldn’t be in prison or die for crimes they didn’t commit. Here is the article about Alan and more like him. Bill would compensate exonerated inmates.
Poor Alan. The good news is that he was exonerated and is now a free man. But in Washington State, he didn’t get a settlement from the State, he got a child support bill! Fuck. This is criminal. I absolutely can’t believe this. Alan now lives in Vancouver Canada and is trying to make ends meet working in his $12/hr job. His wages are garished $100/month. He owes $111,000. Should take a while to pay this bill! And I thought my debts were bad…Where is the logic here? WTF?
What is the right thing to do? Is it justified to pay out a huge settlement in the millions because the state/government wrongly convicted someone? What is fair? Where the judge, prosecutors, jurors corrupt in most of these trials? No. What is the price tag we place for a person’s life behind bars? It is more than just the wage they could have made if they were out. Being in a small cell, losing out on the enjoyment of life. Horrible. Pain and suffering…
We as a society need to be accountable for the wrongly convicted. Laws are made to protect us, apparently to avoid complete anarchy. As I get older I realize that our laws are political. Some of the laws people get convicted of are utter stupidity. Going to jail for marijuana possession, not paying parking fines, illegal abortions, self defense from spousal abuse, sodomy, swearing in the court. These are just some of the political, or flavours of the month reasons people are in prison. Sure there are people that can’t function in society. I get this. My point is that politics plays too much of a role in the making of our laws. It could be my left leaning tenancies. I always have a hard time when some small offence garners jail time, yet a cop that killed an innocent man gets 3 weeks probation.
I don’t have answers. I don’t even know what to suggest as a solution. There are just times when I hear stories like Alan’s and think that we need to try as a society to make our wrongs right. Pay the damn guy a shit load of money, pay his ex a shit load of money, and spread the bill amongst the population. The price we pay for a legal system that is supposed to get it correct. Good thing he didn’t get the death penalty!
Is my problem that I get wrapped up in US political and legal craziness? I do confess that the majority of stories that get me angry tend to be from the USA. Are we any better in Canada? Even up in the frozen tundra, we have had our own sad stories of people sitting in prison for crimes they didn’t commit. David Milgaard is probably our most famous one. Here is a story over at CBC with links to 12 high profile cases. I don’t know if we are any better…
What do you think?
- Bill would compensate exonerated Wash. inmates (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- $50,000 a Year to Rot in Hell (slog.thestranger.com)
- $1.7M Settlement Awarded to Man Wrongly Imprisoned for Eight Months (laist.com)
- Why Are These Women in Jail? (marieclaire.com)
- Texan declared innocent after 30 years in prison (msnbc.msn.com)