My very first post on this site concerned Marty Tankleff, victim of a
staggering injustice. Tankleff, then a teenager, was convicted of killing his parents on the basis of a coerced
confession -- immediately recanted and supported by no evidence. Wonderful news arrived this holiday season:
Tankleff's conviction was reversed. Let us hope that the prosecutor comes to his senses and does not seek a new
trial, but rather allows the tragic farce to come to an end.
New Jersey has become the first state in decades to abolish the death
penalty. While there are complex arguments for and against capital punishment, they take a backseat to one plain truth: state-sanctioned
killing will take the life of innocent people. The number of DNA exonerations, which includes some people who were
on death row, clinches the case against capital punishment.
The release of the Mitchell Report about the use of performance-enhancing substances
in baseball will destroy reputations and perhaps livelihoods. Accordingly, we do well to keep in mind that false accusations
are a close cousin of false confessions.
This week brought another DNA exoneration of someone wrongly convicted,
bringing the total to 209. We must keep in mind that, in many cases, there's no preserved DNA from
the crime scene. Moreover, most convicts lack the resources or wherewithal to contact the Innocence Project. Accordingly,
there's every reason to believe that the 209 exonerated by DNA tests represent the tip of a large iceberg.
There are almost certainly a fair number of innocent people who remain behind bars. What a terribly sobering thought.