Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The right stuff

It may be very hard to place a value on a human life and particularly when there are so many warring doctrines that insist that some life is precious and other life is cheap according to various contradictory criteria, but few of us would argue that when a man's life is taken away from him as punishment for a crime he didn't commit, the government that did it, owes him something and should recompense him in some way. It's the right thing to do.

Being the right thing to do however is rarely sufficient to cause it to be done in a society corrupted by politics and anger and hysteria and double talk and religion and fear and so Florida Governor Charlie Crist's support of a new bill authorizing up to $500,000 or $50,000 per year for anyone falsely convicted and imprisoned is refreshing. With DNA technology finding more and more victims of bad or crooked prosecutors, corrupt police and stupid juries serving sentences for other people's crimes, there is a need for a way for victims to seek justice without having to go through years of expensive appeals to the legislature to pass a bill authorizing payment on an individual basis. The new proposal would enable the State Attorney General to authorize payments.

Wilton Dedge, released after 22 years of incarceration, managed to get the Florida legislature to pay him $2 million in 2005 for putting him in prison for a rape he did not commit, wrote a letter to Crist asking him to "do something" to help others like him.

"No victim of this particular living hell should ever have to continue to fight for basic justice, nor should any be existing in poverty or struggling desperately to meet their basic needs." said Dedge and Governor Crist agrees.

"I think it's absolutely the right thing to do. ... I think he's exactly right. ... I can't imagine the despair and the difficulty that someone would go through who is wrongfully accused, has to serve time in jail, and then gets out and doesn't have that society try to repay them in a responsible way. You can never get those years back, and so I think he's exactly right, and that's why I support him. It's a no-brainer. It's the right thing to do."

What an excellent reason to do something!

4 comments:

Reign of Reason said...

What's ludicrous is that there are still some states that refuse to use DNA evidence in 'settled' cases.

Intellectual Insurgent said...

RoR -

Which States? That's nuts.

d.K. said...

What a novel concept. I'm going to have to write that down.

Did Crist's predecessor have a viewpoint on the issue?

Capt. Fogg said...

I don't know what Jeb Bush's position on domestic exile was, but of course he never did anything about it.