Friday, March 12, 2010

Man Exonerated by DNA 33 Years After Rape Conviction

In a story that is becoming all too familiar these days, a man was recently exonerated by DNA evidence for a crime he was convicted of 33 years ago. Freddie Peacock, 60, got the news at a hearing in Rochester, New York, on Thursday. The good news came 28 years after he was released on parole for an alleged raping of a Rochester woman in 1976.

The exoneration came from the work of The Innocence Project, affiliated with the Cardozo School of Law. The Project's co-director, Peter Neufeld, was in court with Peacock and his attorneys when the judgment was handed down.

Peacock, who is mentally ill, told the officers that he'd been hospitalized for mental illness; however, the officers continued to interrogate Peacock until he confessed. He was given 20 years in prison and released on parole in 1982.

Most interesting about Peacock's case is that he was badgered by police until he simply said, "I did it," without having any knowledge of how, when or where he committed the crime. This case is disturbing for a number of reasons. We also know that Peacock's case is not the only such case in the country, and there are thousands of other questionable cases that have never been challenged by the Innocence Project, leaving innocent men and women behind bars for crimes they did not commit. Of tremendous concern is the fact that many of these men and women are African American, leaving black families to struggle without the heads of households present to raise their children.

Here are some quick thoughts:

1) Mr. Peacock and his family should be compensated: Any wrongfully convicted American who spends more than a year in prison should receive $10 million dollars in cash from the federal government. If we can bail out the bankers, we can also afford to bail out those who are falsely accused and arrested. You can't replace the time someone loses for being in prison when they didn't commit a crime. Going to prison is a horrible and traumatic experience.

2) Officers and prosecutors involved in the case should be put on trial: The idea that this man can present a confession that has no details or other evidence is unbelievable. Clearly, the prosecutors and officers involved in this crime are guilty of the worst forms of corruption and unethical behavior. I am not sure why we believe that they should be held above the punishments thrust upon the defendants whose lives they've chosen to carelessly destroy.

3) The federal government should dramatically expand funding for the Innocence Project: If the Innocence Project is finding so many people who were falsely convicted, there are undoubtedly many more. The federal government should allocate billions to providing DNA testing to any defendant who requests it. Defendants should be IMMEDIATELY released from prison if it is found that their DNA does not match that of the defendant at the scene of the crime. We should not let laws and systems get in the way of doing what is just.

4) Any small amount of time in prison can destroy your life: I have a relative who went to prison for only two years at the age of 17. He is now a 46-year-old man who cannot psychologically overcome the horrible things that happened to him during his time in the penitentiary. If any innocent man or woman is sent to prison for any amount of time, we should all be deeply concerned and someone should pay a very serious price for delivering such a horrible injustice.

I long for the day when cases like Freddie Peacock receive the outrage that they deserve. This should not be happening in America, but it still happens every single day.

Original report here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today. Now hosted on Wordpress. If you cannot access it, go to the MIRROR SITE, where posts appear as well as on the primary site. I have reposted the archives (past posts) for Wicked Thoughts HERE or HERE

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