> There was a lot at stake for the detectives, who said all eight defendants had confessed. Because all of them had implicated Daniel in the murders, if Daniel’s confession were to fall apart, the rest of the case would be in jeopardy.
I think this is a sobering anecdote to remember when wondering why a bureaucratic decision has been made despite flying in the face of pure logic and science.
> A check showed that, in fact, Daniel had been arrested for fighting in a park that night at about 6:45 p.m., and jail records showed he was released about 10 p.m. and the murders occurred at 8:43 p.m.
That should've been the end of it. The. End. How did NO ONE involved in the mechanics of this case (the judge, lawyers, etc.) note this fact and immediately release him? Were they relying on the fallibility of police records? Did they say "oh, well, it says he was in jail but maybe the clock was off"? Is there a counter-fact being withheld here?
I just seriously don't understand how something this clear-cut could've escaped everyone's attention. It hurts my brain.
In what might be the most offensive part, his defense appears to be immunity under the Statute of Limitations, since it was back in 1986. Quite a risky defense, I imagine, given (AIUI) the exemption for "Fraud upon the Court", and the perverse incentive to ensure the wrongly imprisoned stay there long enough that you are immune to criminal charges. Civil redress is presumably available, but I can't imagine what 10-20 years of wrongful imprisonment is worth that doesn't lead to immediate bankruptcy.
 Note: LONG. http://www.texasmonthly.com/story/innocent-man-part-one?full... & http://www.texasmonthly.com/story/innocent-man-part-two
 $80k/year for Texas, according to the end of article in , but presumably from the state itself, rather than the individuals involved.
Remember, this reporter got hundreds of letters from convicts and followed up on this one. Remember also that in real life, the facts aren't laid out for you like a newspaper article.
It's a cost-benefit analysis. What's the benefit of reducing the error rate of the system versus how much does it cost to achieve that reduction?
I disagree that this is simple cost-benefit analysis. This is about the integrity and trustworthiness of the system, and it's not worth writing off a whole bunch of people to make the wheels squeak less and clean up easier when they grind up an innocent person's life. It needs pressure from the outside to reform itself from within.
I guess I'm asking for the justice system to do a better job policing itself and start treating transgressions like this as major offenses that threaten the system itself. But considering human nature, this is unlikely. There is an interesting book called 'Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me)' which has a chapter dedicated to this kind of behavior in the justice system.
You can have official legal findings whenever the system says you can have official legal findings. One option would be to close the loop and have the system prosecute itself (plenty of precedent). There are others.
Reinforcing the reliability of the system directly reinforces the legitimacy of the state's monopoly on violence - and that's an exceedingly big deal. Perhaps the cost-benefit analysis doesn't fall out in that direction, but I'm wary of that idea without a lot of evidence to back it up.
I think the state's own findings are quite sufficient. The trick is to incentivize their use without unduly obstructing other operations of equal importance.
The state has already satisfied itself sufficiently to reverse a murder conviction. If the investigation that led to that course of action was causally descended from an article written by a journalist - what of it?
If you believe that the actions taken by the state up to this point were unwarranted, say so explicitly. Otherwise, please recognize that I am not talking about journalists here.
An innocent cop went to prison for 6 years until the murderer came forward with a confession. There was basically no evidence to put him away, but he was having an affair with the victim at the time, which made him suspect number one. The part that really upset me was that he was basically unemployable after he came out. He was awarded $600k in backpay when released, but $200k went to his lawyer and the rest to his ex-wife.
Of course, lawyers can only demand "reasonable" pay through that system. That means above average pay, but not 1000x.
Both men stayed in prison until a newspaper reporter discovered the case, just as in this article; in fact, one of the men was not released until several years after the movie was made.
Cook County itself has had 92 known exonerations since 1989 – far more
than any other county in the country — and, as we saw in 2001, it has a
special affinity for false confessions. Nearly 40 percent of Cook County
exonerations involved false confessions by the exonerated defendants
(35 of 92), and an additional 16 percent were based on false
confessions by codefendants.
Meanwhile, the prosecutor and the detectives involved are not charged with conspiracy.