October 26, 2009

WHAT THE HELL YOU MEAN... INNOCENT?!

Students in the Medill Innocence Project at Northwestern University investigate claims of innocence and wrongful conviction by inmates. Over the course of a decade, the Medill project has helped secure the release of 11 innocent persons, five of whom were slated for execution. Rather than applauding the students for their difficult and compelling work, prosecutors have hit them with a low blow. In a current case involving a claim of innocence by Anthony McKinney, Cook County prosecutors have served the Medill project with a shocking subpoena. According to the New York Times, the subpoena demands "the grades, grading criteria, class syllabus, expense reports and e-mail messages of the journalism students themselves."

See, there are those days when I just wish I could close my eyes and pretend that all is well with the world. Today is one of those days. And then I read that prosecutors in Chicago really, really don't like that law students find out on a disgustingly regular basis that innocent people get convicted through the most atrocious means, and not only that, they find the evidence, they collect the evidence... and they are instrumental in overturning wrongful convictions. And what does the prosecution do? They go after the students! For, of course there must be some kind of incentive, some kind of profit for those students to find the evidence that prosecutors all over the US willingly close their eyes to evidence, in some cases even let the evidence fall underneath the table, so to speak, just to get a good conviction record that might set them up for, oh, I don't know... public office? Oh, that tough on crime slogan, that still works so well in those campaigns, doesn't it?

Excuse me, I think I need to throw up in my mouth.